Philadelphia Metropolis

Cover Stories

In-depth stories, analyses, profiles and investigations exclusive to Metropolis.

News About Metropolis

Though Metropolis has closed, Tom Ferrick will continue his Publius blog on the new site You can read his first columns there. The site also will use Metropolis content and writers in the future. Read more.... (Comments)

Council's Secret "WAM" Fund

By Ryan Briggs» Few taxpayers know about it, but each year their district Council members divvy up a $1.98 million slush fund buried deep within the Department of Parks and Recreation's $47.8 million budget. Referred to by one political aide as "Council's Walking Around Money," the Philadelphia Activities Fund, Inc. (or simply, "the Fund") is a grants program that essentially operates like a piggy bank for the city's political class, an easy pot of money for Council members to hand out cash to favored groups in their districts. Reporter Ryan Briggs reveals the details... (Comments)

Day in the Life: The Funeral Director

By Ada Kulesza» The story of violence in the city can be told many ways. First, there are the numbers: 320 killed so far this year, many of them young, black men. In each case, someone must enter the scene to tend to the burial of the body, the grief of the family, the simple logistics of death. As part of our Day in the Life series, we visit one such person, Khaijah Alderman, a funeral director who works in North Philadelphia. (Comments)

Public Schools' Reality Check

Saying the Philadelphia School District was "out of time and out of options," Superintendent William Hite released his school close-and-merge list to howls of protest from parents and advocacy groups. The district plan, which still must be approved by the School Reform Commission, calls for the closing of 11 district high schools, 5 middle school and 23 elementary schools. In addition, another 13 elementary schools will be restructured, a move that will require the transfer of fifth and sixth graders. In most cases, the schools are going from K-6 to K-4. (Comments)

A Day in the Life: The Teacher

With the fall semester underway, reporter Connie Langland visited two Philadelphia high schools to take a measure of how the schools and teachers were doing early in the semester. The two schools -- University City and Gratz -- have undergone major changes in recent years, each taking a different approach to the same end: improving student performance. The story opens with a day in the life of UC teacher A.J. Schiera. (Comments)

A Day In The Life: The Teacher II

A new school year is underway in Philadelphia and we sent reporter Connie Langland to oberve the work of two teachers at two different schools. Gratz High School is a former public school that was turned into a charter school by the district. JacQueline Palmer has taught there for three years -- both before and after the change was made. We look into the classroom of Palmer to get an insight into the everyday life of a teacher in an urban school..... (Comments)

The Secret Life of Clothing Bins

By Christopher Malo» How many people give a second thought after they drop off a bag of old clothes to those sturdy metal clothing bins that dot the American landscape today. What happens to that donated clothing? Where does it end up? Reporter Christopher Malo went looking for an answers to those y simple questions and returned with a surprising, even bizarre, story. He tells it in The Secret Life of Clothing Bins... (Comments)

A Day in the Life: The St. Francis Inn

The recession is over. At least that's what the media keeps saying. So why is it that on a rainy October morning, nearly two years after the Great Recession's end, there is a line of hungry people rounding the block at St. Francis Inn in Kensington waiting to be fed? The scene at St. Francis is a more accurate barometer of the state of the post-recession city, where the economic pain continues. As I make my way up to the century-old building that was once a corner bar, I am struck by the mélange of faces that have coalesced to embody the face of poverty in Philadelphia. (Comments)

Backgrounder: Can Obama Win Pennsylvania on November 6th?

With the election just days away, the polls are showing a tightening of the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania. Can Obama hold onto the lead he has enjoyed through the summer and early fall or will he lose this important state to his Republican rival? We analyze the broad voter trends that may decide the race on Nov. 6. (Comments)

City Council Rising

What happens when you have a strong-mayor form of government with a weak mayor? Now in his second term, Mayor Nutter is looking more and more like a lame duck and City Council has started to assert its power. Report Ryan Briggs offers this snapshot of who's who in Council in a story based on insider interviews with Council staff and others. (Comments)

Backgrounder: All About AVI

City government is nearly finished the task of reassessing all of the 500,000-plus residential properties in Philadelphia. The new numbers are due to be mailed out in February. The project is called the Actual Valuation Initiative. What is AVI? Why is it needed? And how is the project being done? We provide answers with a Backgrounder on AVI that is just a click away. (Comments)

Backgrounder: Setting the Value

How is the city going about reassessing properties in Philadelphia? Reporter Jared Brey reveals the steps the Office of Property Assessment is taking -- and the complicated formulas it uses -- to determine the "actual value" of your house in Part Two of our Backgrounder on the Actual Valuation Initiative. Click to read more... (Comments)

A Day in the Life: The Trash Men

What's it like to be a trash man? It has to one of the worst jobs, especially in the summer, when the street swelter in the heat. To find out, we asked reporter Ada Kulesza to shadow a crew of city sanitation workers as they made their daily rounds. She returned with a fascinating tale about the job, the city, and our empire of trash. (Comments)

My Philadelphia: East Passyunk

Mid squat, in the basement bathroom at the Pub on East Passyunk, I overhear a statuesque hipster girl in a granny frock and oversized black rimmed glasses (that albeit aren't prescription) say, "I'm so glad we moved here, this nabe is like, so much more choice than Brooklyn ever was." I giggle and wipe as I look up at the homage to Patrick Swayze above the toilet that's been marred with drunken bathroom poetry and band stickers. Climbing the dungeon-esque steps back to my beer I think about my own migration from Brooklyn to Philly. Love and all of its possibilities were the only things capable of loosening the grip New York City had on my heart. (Comments)

My Philadelphia: Rhawnhurst

S. Trinh is a native of Philadelphia who brings a distinct voice -- and a distinct point of view -- to writing about her life and times. We asked Trinh, a student at Temple University, to write and reflect on Rhawnhurst, the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood where she was born and raised. Read on for her quirky but affectionate view of her life there so far (Comments)

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