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What old school Philly things do we hope never go away?

Philadelphians past and present were plunged into a nostalgia-fueled depression yesterday when it was announced that Amtrak would replace 30th Street Station's flipping depature sign. That got us thinking: What other aspects of Philadelphia do we hope never go away?

Love Park

The city is going to bring back Love Park but will it be the way it was? -- Bob Fernandez, business reporter

The memory of long gone businesses

In contrast with New York, where whole high-rise blocks can be demolished and forgotten as they are replaced with still-larger buildings, Philadelphia is where big companies -- the ones that shape our city with their buildings, the ones people moved here to work for and shape their lives around -- don't disappear when they die. Center City high-rises still proudly proclaim themselves to be the homes of the long-dead Pennsylvania Railroad, Curtis Publishing Co., N.W. Ayer ad agency, Insurance Co. of North America, Philadelphia Savings Fund Society, Girard Trust, Reliance Insurance Co.,  Philadelphia Stock Exchange, and other vanished employers. It was front-page news when the old Philadelphia National Bank signs were finally taken down from that once-dominant bank's headquarters, a generation after the name went out of use. Corporations in most of America are faceless entities, forgotten as soon as their TV ads go off the air, and way more ephemeral than people. But in Philadelphia old businesses become part of the landscape, like the vanished patriots of 1776 and the statesmen of 1787. -- Joseph Distefano, business columnist

The Italian Market

If I can't argue over the price of yellow onions with a complete stranger for no other reason than it's fun, then I don't really want to be a Philadelphian anymore. There's nothing more satisyfing than returning to my South Philly home with a bag of Italian Market goodies after a hard-fought shopping session. -- Molly Eichel, assistant features editor

The Melrose Diner (but more specifically its jingle)

Philadelphia is home to many historic diners (hang in there, Little Pete's) where the food doesn't quite live up to the nostalgia-fueled expectations. But never has a diner jingle so perfectly captured a time and place.  -- Julia Terruso, City Hall reporter

The pedestrian overpass at Oxford Circle on Roosevelt Boulevard

As a Philly native and a daughter of the Northeast, I'm not sure I'd miss either the Italian Market, which scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid (live animals, blood, ugh), or the Philly AAAAK-cent. What I would miss is the pedestrian overpass at Oxford Circle on Roosevelt Boulevard. Having a 12-lane highway in the middle of your neighborhood is a big deal for a little kid, and when we got to walk across that bridge to visit friends or go to a store, it was like being at the top of the world and in the middle of Indianapolis Speedway all at the same time. The wind in your hair! (The exhaust fumes in your lungs!) When the nuns at my elementary school, St. Martin of Tours (right there at the bridge, at Sanger Street and the Boulevard), walked us across to see a movie at the local theater about some saint or another, it seemed there was always at least one kid dropping a glove or something down onto the road. And I remember holding my cousin's hand at least once when it was just the two of us, so neither she nor I would be afraid. As a landmark, it might not be the most scenic, but it has endured. -- Joanne McLaughlin, deputy business/real estate editor

The Philadelphia accent

It may be disappearing (sob!), but I have been in far-flung parts of the world only to be stopped in my tracks by a wooder or downashore. There's something comforting about the Philadelphia -- 'scuse me, Fildelfya -- accent. It sounds like home. -- Molly Eichel

South Street

I was down on South Street a month or so ago and it was ridiculously hot and humid. Everyone just seemed kind of repulsive and it was dirty and trashy. I was trying to remember whether it had always been so grimy like that or whether it had gotten more terrible since I worked at the Copa in college and would ride my bike home at sunrise, or when I would hop on SEPTA from 69th Street in high school. I guess I don't really like it that much anymore, but if found myself on South Street east of Broad 10 years from now and it was all gone, I'd be really upset. -- William Bender, staff writer

Little Pete’s

As high-end doughnut boutiques and "sushi-burrito" eateries become the norm in Center City, Pete's stands out as a reminder of funky old Philadelphia. Equally loved by lunching lawyers and partiers out past closing time, it's a place for a simple turkey club or a plate of salami and scrambled eggs. The Rittenhouse Square-area greasy spoon's days are numbered, though, with plans for a boutique hotel that would displace it and other businesses on its block.  -- Jacob Adelman, staff writer

Plays and Players

With Society Hill Playhouse coming down to make way for townhouses, I'm now fearing for the creaky Plays and Players Theater at  1714 Delancey Street. Built  in 1912, one of the oldest continuously operating theaters, it's cramped (people were smaller then) and musty but  oozes charm. Saw lots of classic theater there (Greek tragedies, Brecht, Shakespeare) back in my high school youth when the Drama Guild resided there, before moving to the Walnut Street Theater and later morphing/merging into the Walnut  house company. Some New York billionaire could look at P&P's  primo location and declare "I could buy it and build a mansion here for less than  a nice three bedroom apartment in Manhattan!"  - Jonathan Takiff, Gizmo Guy


You can keep your tokens, sweep South Broad as clean as grandma's steps. But do not by any circumstances take my Wawa away. -- Dan Rubin, enterprise editor

The Dad Vail Regatta (And rowing in general)

As dad of a rower turned crew coach, I am thankful to live in the only place in the country, other than Boston, where the sport is really prominent and essential. Wouldn't give up those days tromping around in the mud on the banks of the Schuylkill for anything. -- Les Bowen, Eagles reporter

The Palestra

In an era of ever larger, glossier basketball arenas, Penn's Palestra – opened in January 1927 – retains the intimacy, history and charm of college basketball for fans who can see the action from every seat in the house. The only thing that's changed since my youth, circa the 1960s, is that there is no longer a haze from the cigarette smokers wafting into the upper corners of the arena. -- Bill Marimow, Inquirer editor-in-chief

Philly's ability to gather 

And of course Reading Terminal Market, which is just crying out for some bright developer to convert it into something like Eataly in New York: clean, organized, airy. Which is fine for what it is, but it lacks the anarchic energy of RTM (and, for that matter, the Italian Market).  -- Addam Schwartz, deputy metro editor 

Dirty Frank's

Dirty Frank's embodies a lot of the best qualities about Philly dives: cheap, cozy, completely unpretentious, and a place where you can find lawyers and doctors sitting next to neighborhood regulars (and, as opposed to staring at their phones, actually interacting with one another). I hope places like this never toss up edison bulbs, subway tile, or reclaimed wood. Long live the worn out stools and paper snowflakes/other random art hanging from the ceiling. -- Chris Palmer, staff writer

The KYW 1060 jingle

Before I even cared about traffic (what's traffic?) I loved the jingle. It's up there with the Ideal store song (So take the wheel of your automobile, and head on down to.... Ideal!), which went away a long time ago. -- Cathy Rubin, lifestyle editor

Action News theme

With all this talk of jingles, we have to add the greatest of all: 6ABC's Action News theme song, aka "Move Closer to Your World." You're singing it right now to yourself, aren't you? No lie: Once, I sang this during an interview with Jim Gardner. (This wasn't not one of my finer moments.) -- Molly Eichel

I Goldberg’s

Need a pair of hiking or combat boots? A winter sleeping bag? A Swedish military trench coat? Then I Goldberg – at 1300 Chestnut St. since it moved from a bigger nearby location in 2002 – is probably where you want to go. The Philadelphia military-surplus-and-outerwear emporium has long been a Philadelphia institution, a one-stop-shop for campers and hikers, as well as a place to put together the perfect art-school fashion statement. But the store may be ousted from its location by rising rents, as competition for Center City storefronts grows increasingly fierce. -- Jacob Adelman

The Wanamaker's holdovers: The Christmas light show and the Wanamaker Eagle
Rittenhouse Square statues

Not that anyone would dare to try, but the goat, lion, and frog statues in Rittenhouse Square must never leave us. For decades they have functioned as climbing walls for cautious and adventurous children alike. Anyone can try the goat, as parents and babysitters sit nearby in a semicircle. Or the frog, perching on his cool stone back and gripping his eyeballs. But it takes real courage to scale the lion's slippery metal pelt. Sure, safer and more child-appropriate jungle gyms may now exist elsewhere, but may this always be a place where Center City kids grow up playing. -- Allison Steele, staff writer

The Heart at the Franklin Insitute

On my very first visit to Philadelphia in 1981, my friends took me all over the city to show me the sights, but the one that stood out for me was the giant  heart at the Franklin Institute. Its sheer size is incredible. And how freakin' cool is it to walk through a beating heart? When I  ended up moving here  years later, I had to go back and make sure it was still here! --Ann Applegate, copy editor