Philadelphia doesn’t come up much in conversations about sustainable cities. Nor does it appear in a top 10 sustainable cities internet search. But while Philly might not check every box to be considered a model city, it has made huge leaps in recent years, particularly in the way that it has re-purposed buildings and spaces, focused on cultural conservation, and made more of an effort in the area of food sustainability.
In Spring of 2019, Urban Adventures Philadelphia rolled out three new tours that highlight Philly’s commitment to the three major themes above. The team is thrilled to show off the individuals and organizations responsible for improving our environment, economic well-being, and social equity, all while gaining special access to some very cool and truly off-the-beaten-path Philly locations.
Philadelphia once boasted the title “the Workshop of the World”, and this industrial boom era can still be seen today in several neighborhoods around the city. This boom would never have happened if not for our once-impressive (albeit sooty) railroad system, which not only helped build our country but specifically made Philadelphia a destination for immigrants coming to the “Old Country”. Nowadays, it’s endearingly nostalgic to see a decommissioned railroad system transformed into a green space that everyone in the community can enjoy: Philadelphia’s answer to New York’s Highline, the Rail Park. While this space is still a work in progress, visitors and locals alike can enjoy the gigantic industrial swings, native plant gardens, and unique views of the city.
Philly’s restaurateurs and bar owners have also risen to the call of repurposing old and abandoned sites. Among them, Love City Brewing, a local brewery was once a manufacturing building that created parts for trains travelling on the famed Reading Railroad. While you’re enjoying their indoor German-beer-hall-style atmosphere, grab a Pathways Pilsner which benefits Philadelphia’s Pathways to Housing, an organization dedicated to ending homelessness.
Recently revitalized as a food hall, The Bourse offers a diverse variety of ehtinic and national food favorites (think Korean tacos and Philly cheesesteaks). Once a commodities exchange market from the late 19th century, the market today creates an open and welcoming environment for everyone to come together.
Our Re-imagined Spaces Private tour offers the chance to visit local buildings and spaces that have been given a new lease of life, including the newly revitalized Delaware River Waterfront. We will discover the hidden history behind famous landmarks, sample locally-produced treats or beverages, and learning about programs and organizations committed to responsible development throughout the city. And because it’s a private tour, the itinerary is 100% customizable
Philadelphia takes food pretty seriously, too, and we’re not necessarily talking cheesesteaks and pretzels.
Sourcing locally is key in food sustainability, and you’d be hard pressed to find a business that prides itself and thrives on offering products made in and nearby Philadelphia, including pioneering bakers making strides in amaranth-based goods. Make a day of exploring Mt. Airy, where you can shop all local (or close enough) at Weaver’s Way Co-op. While you’re there, enjoy ethically sourced, locally roasted coffee across the street at High Point Cafe, and take a drive or a walk through the enchanting neighborhood of architecturally diverse houses and beautifully cultivated gardens.
Bennett Compost, on the other — or final — end, addresses the universal problem (or in this case, opportunity) of food waste. Once food hits the point of no return, composting is a great way to use this “waste” in a productive way. Bennett Compost works with communities to offer a convenient way to divert food waste from landfills and back into our soil. Look out for their team of bicyclists carting off compost buckets from residents all around the city.
Not every business or operation here is 100% sustainable, and even though Philadelphia has some ways to go in making that top ten list, its working hard towards that goal, and the Urban Adventures team is excited to show off how far we’ve come!
Our Private Food Sustainability tour highlights the promotion of sustainable practices in an urban environment, such as visiting urban farms, co-ops, or green spaces and discovering delicious restaurants, breweries, and markets that support eco-friendly practices.
Philadelphia Urban Adventures works in partnership with The Green Program (TGP); 10% from each of tour sold is donated to TGP’s scholarship fund, which aims to help disadvantaged students gain access to global sustainability education opportunities.