In this new series we’ll be offering you a list of cool things to do in cities across America and around the globe. This Geek Weekend we present Philadelphia, the city of geek love, where you can check out ENIAC, a Star Trek exhibit, and buy a geeky faucet.
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THINGS TO DO
· University Pinball: classic arcade in University City, 4006-08 Spruce Street, (215) 387-9523,
· The Hacktory: Josh Kopel is a techy of techies. A co-founder of Make Philly and an all around master of things made by hand to beep, blink, and transmit ones and zeros, Josh has started “The Hacktory.” The Hacktory promotes the use of technology in the arts and is incubated as a project within Nonprofit Technology Resources: providing classes for artists / craftspeople / makers, community events, shared facilities and equipment, artist-in-residents programs, art sales, and materials exchange. 1524 Brandywine Street
· Fat Jack’s Comic Crypt: Withstanding the test of time and technology, for 30 years Fat Jack’s Comic Crypt has been the place for old-school and fresh-off-the-press copies from all major and independent companies. There enough tees, action figures and old-school lunches for ever comic-lover. 2006 Sansom Street (Rittenhouse Square area)
· Brave New Worlds Comics: With action figures, designer vinyl toys, giant Silver Surfers, and of course, comics, this place has it all. (Check out Geekadelphia’s video). 45 N.2nd Street (Old City)
· The Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia: The Museum’s display of 20,000 provocative items is designed to give a beneath-the-surface perspective of what physicians study — and it’s not always pretty. You’ll find a wide smattering of abnormal body parts preserved in fluid. You’ll encounter skeletal formations — like that of a 7’6” man — that don’t seem quite possible. Diseased and enlarged organs are tastefully displayed within glass-encased oak frames. Connections to the famous include Marie Curie’s electrometer, Dr. Benjamin Rush’s medicine chest and, most spectacularly, the death cast of Chang and Eng, the original “Siamese Twins,” whose autopsy was performed in the museum. The preserved body parts of the famous include John Marshall’s bladder stones, a piece of Grover Cleveland’s cancerous jawbone and a section of John Wilkes Booth’s neck. The non-squeamish will be fascinated by the collection of 139 skulls, the exhibit on conjoined twins and objects retrieved from people’s throats and lungs. 19 S. 22nd Street, (215) 563-3737,
· ENIAC (world’s first computer): ENAIC was built at the University of Pennsylvania and parts are still on view there. At 150-feet wide, with 20 banks of flashing lights, ENIAC fills a whole room. The School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Pennsylvania, 220 South 33rd Street
· The Franklin Institute Science Museum: An innovator in designing hands-on exhibits before “interactive” became a buzzword, the Franklin Institute is as clever as its namesake. Its eminently touchable attractions explore science in disciplines ranging from sports to space. Highlights include The Sports Challenge, which uses virtual-reality technology to illustrate the physics of sports; The Train Factory’s climb-aboard steam engine; Space Command’s simulated earth-orbit research station; a fully equipped weather station; and exhibits on electricity. 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 448-1200,
· Simeone Foundation Museum: One of the world’s most remarkable collections of race cars is located just five minutes from Philadelphia International Airport — perfect for international visitors hoping to see the Simeone’s vast collection of European race cars. Within the walls of the newly opened Simeone Foundation Museum — the only museum of its kind in North America — you’ll find 60 of the world’s rarest and most famous race cars. And if luxury is your style, names like Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Maserati are pretty tough to beat. As you walk through the museum, you’ll see how technology has evolved in just seven decades of racing.
6825-31 Norwitch Drive, (215) 365-7233,
· The underground SEPTA and PATCO tunnels – especially around City Hall – are one of the greatest engineering marvels of all time.
· Omoi: Omoi boutique brings the trendy styles of Tokyo to Philadelphia. Filled with kitschy-chic clothing, jewelry and accessories, Omoi reflects the colorfully streamlined sensibilities of Asian fashion. And now Omoi has evolved to include other quirky and punk-inspired fashions from around the world. Keep an eye out for Japanese toys, tea ceremony sets and hand-printed stationary. And for those who speak the language, feel free to leaf through Japanese magazines to inspire your shopping. 1608 Pine Street, (215) 545-0963,
· Abakus Takeout: a new footwear spot in Philadelphia’s Chinatown with a Chinese takeout joint atmosphere. 227 N. 10th Street Philadelphia
· Ubiq: This hipper-than-thou Philly-owned sneaker gallery—built inside a Victorian-era townhouse—stocks couture-level Nikes and classic to cutting-edge Vans (renovated & reopened May 2007). They even have a blog. 1509 Walnut Street, (215) 988-0194
PLACES TO EAT
· Pod: Philadelphia’s renowned restaurateur Stephan Starr is behind University City’s pan-Asian Pod. The space is almost right out of a Sci-fi movie — stools that light up when you sit down; private egg-shaped dining spaces (or “pods”) that change neon colors as you eat; and a conveyor belt that moves colorful plates of edamame, maki and sashimi around an elongated sushi bar for you to pick up when one strikes your fancy. Pod now has a new, invisible component: free wireless internet access is available to diners throughout the restaurant. 3636 Sansom Street, (215) 387-1803.
· Yakitori Boy: Yakitori Boy, opened in December 2007 in Chinatown, serves “Japas” (Japanese tapas) alongside a sushi bar and a yakitori bar, where cooks grill skewered meats. Upstairs is the karaoke bar, with special sake and cocktails and private karaoke rooms. 213 N. 11th Street (Chinatown), 215-923-8088
· National Mechanics: A restaurant owned by a web company and operated by tech geeks? Kiiinda awesome. The menu is fun to peruse, full of nostalgic favorites and innovative mash-ups. Sample throwback items include corn dogs, grilled cheese and Campbell’s tomato soup, and the “Frito Taco Extravaganza” — a split-open bag of Frito’s topped with a heavenly medley of chili and cheddar cheese. The restaurant’s décor pays homage to all things mechanical. Metal devices adorned with Christmas lights illuminate the dining room, while the restaurant’s bathrooms are worth a trip for their artistically designed sinks and light fixtures. 22 S. 3rd Street, (215) 701-4883
UPCOMING / CURRENT EVENTS
Schuylkill Banks Movies: On Philadelphia’s other riverfront, film fans take a seat on the grass with their picnic food and blankets to take in the free movies along the Schuylkill River Trail by the Walnut Street bridge. The movies show every other Thursday, June 25-August 6, 2009. Schuylkill River Trail at Walnut Street, (215) 222-6030, ext. 103.
· Hollywood Classics Under The Stars: The outdoor concert venue The Mann Center has summer picnics. On July 21st, the Philadelphia Orchestra performs music from Star Wars.
· Star Trek: The Exhibition (Through September 20, 2009) This exhibition will highlight 200 authentic objects from this groundbreaking television and motion picture series. The Exhibition allows visitors to connect with iconic Star Trek moments and characters while celebrating the creative spirit of science fiction that gave rise to many of today’s modern marvels. The Franklin Institute Science Museum, 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 448-1200,
OUT IN BUCKS COUNTY, PA…
· NASTAR CENTER: At the National Aerospace Training and Research Center, pilots can fly a centrifuge-based flight simulator, to practice flying skill and discover the boundaries of the aircraft’s performance limits. NASTAR also readies private space travelers for their flights into space by conditioning them to the rigors of space flight, which gives them the confidence that they can handle the stresses of space launch. (Including Richard Branson!) NASTAR Center has a wide variety of “serious entertainment” experiences: puts you in a high-fidelity cockpit, and sends you skyward into engagements against skilled pilots. Your co-pilot is there to assist you during your engagement, and coach you through the high G turns and maneuvers. If you want to fly higher and faster than a jet pilot, our Space Launch experience will launch you into a suborbital flight, with all the G forces of an actual launch. There’s also a GYROLAB, a full-motion flight simulator, and an Altitude Chamber, is a hypobaric vessel which can simulate atmospheric conditions up to 100,000 feet. The Ejection Seat System and Night Vision Goggle Training. 125 James Way Southampton, PA