The Upcycle Is This

Dumpster Divers at the Archives

Dumpster Divers at the Archives

Philadelphia’s intrepid Dumpster Divers are at it again – making fine art out of nothing more than other people’s doomed trash.

See their results of their latest project at the National Archives building in downtown Philadelphia.

Entitled Archives Alchemy: The Art of the Dumpster Divers the unusual project is a first-time collaboration for Leslie Simon, director of Research Services at the Philadelphia National Archives, who teamed up with the Dumpster Divers, a collective of some forty classically trained and self-taught artists with a heightened fondness for found objects.

The challenge to the Dumpster Divers was to create artworks from the debris of many moves and renovations that was otherwise headed for the dumpster, says Leslie Simon. Some of the available materials included miles of obsolete microfilm and electronics, old ladders and library carts, aged leather book bindings, displays, posters, photographs and “lots of red tape.”

With an artist’s touch, the reimagined trash is a way of preserving and interpreting much of the history contained within the vaults of the Archives. Philadelphia’s Archives, one of fifteen facilities across the country, holds records of federal courts and agencies operating in five mid-Atlantic states. Records range from handwritten 18th century customs manifests to 20th century scientific data.

The Divers’ upcycled artworks have been exhibited before at places like the American Visionary Art Museum, Noyes Museum of Art, Perkins Art Center, Please Touch Museum, the Garbage Museum and at many other national and regional locations. 

The exhibit is on display January 10th through April 24, 2014. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. the second Saturday of each month. Entrance to the galleries is at 9th & Chestnut Streets. Photo ID required to gain entrance to the Federal Archives building. For more information, call 215-606-0101.

Update: The exhibit is extended through Friday, July 25th!

Credit: Press Information and photo from Don Brewer’s Philadelphia Art News Blog


Made In America

SS United State eases into port

The SS United States eases into port…

The SS United States is the greatest mid-century ocean liner ever built. Incredibly it’s still afloat.

Although it sits derelict, berthed on the Delaware River in South Philadelphia, it’s not truly abandoned, as passionate fans from around the world strive to fund its restoration.

Philadelphia author and historian, Steven Ujifusa, is one of its champions and he’s just published A Man And His Ship, a biography about naval architect William Francis Gibbs, who designed his technical masterpiece to be the fastest, finest and most beautiful ocean liner of its time.

The 2000-passenger “floating Waldorf Astoria” was “designed to be extremely safe – it was fireproof and had virtually no wood – and she had the speed and maneuverability of a Navy destroyer,” says Ujifusa, in an interview published recently in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Still, its technical marvels couldn’t compete with modern jet aircraft, and after seventeen years breaking sea records and safely transporting tens of thousands of passengers, the great ship was retired. By 2009, stripped bare to its hull and destined for a scrap ship graveyard in India, it was saved by last-minute funding from entrepreneur and philanthropist Gerry Lenfest, who came to the aid of the non-profit SS United States Conservancy, headed by Susan Gibbs, granddaughter of William Gibbs.

The ship’s long saga isn’t over yet, and its future is as precarious as ever, but there’s hope still to revitalize this former grand dame of the seas. To learn more, go to the Conservancy’s website at 

For an in-person visit to the great ship, it’s best viewed from the Ikea Store‘s large second floor restaurant windows, located at 2206 S. Columbus Boulevard, directly across the street from the ship’s dock site.

 Photo courtesy of  Telestar Logistics

About the Blog

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Spring in the City… Rittenhouse Square

Philadelphia is a vibrant mix of old and new, historic and hip, traditional and trendy.

This City of many historic firsts and innumerable legends has long been a popular destination.

Centuries before William Penn sailed up the Delaware,  it was a gathering place of great reverence and relevance for generations of Native Americans who settled here, farming the ancient lands, hunting in its forests and fishing along its rivers and streams.

From its earliest beginnings as a City, it was an enclave that beckoned to millions fleeing religious or political persecution in their lands of origin. Philadelphia became a perfect melting pot of ethnicities, cuisines, and cultures.

Chinatown New Year’s celebration.

Home to the largest municipal park in the world, with tree-lined streets even in its business district, and pocket parks nestled throughout its many neighborhood communities, today it’s every bit the “green country town” that Penn envisioned long ago.

The City once renowned as “Workshop of the World” continues to attract international visitors and abounds in cultural amenities, many of them free. Events, programs, lectures, food markets, theater, art, sports and more do much to showcase the City’s rich historic profile.

This blog will guide out-of-town visitors and hometown residents who seek out the best of what the city offers.