As Michael Nutter prepares to move in, we'd like to bid a fond hello to another new City Hall tenant, the revamped and expanded City Hall Visitors' Center and Gift Shop, located at the building's East Portal (where the tower tours meet) and open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
The gifts here should appeal to any hard-core Phillyphile on your list. There are local history and architecture books, such as "Philadelphia Then and Now" ($19.95) and "Philadelphia City Hall" ($19.99). There are Love statue replicas, including a handsome miniature with a pencil sharpener in its base (a bargain at $3.99). There are punk-rock Philly T-shirts ($29.99) that might delight a college student or a soldier who's home on break from afar.
"It's not just souveniry magnet stuff," says City Hall tour director Greta Greenberger. "It's for lovers of Philadelphia."
Are there Rocky souvenirs? Yes, of course there are Rocky souvenirs. The gift-shop staff spends an exasperating amount of time explaining to out-of-towners that Balboa is a fictional character. For those people there's the inspirational "Rocky's Guide to Life: Heavyweight Wit and Wisdom" ($9.95).
For the rest of us, there's a spectacular poster of City Hall ($14.99), free of scaffolding and looking like Cinderella's castle in a creamy color photograph shot by city photographer Dick Gouldey. "This is what it looks like on a good day," Greenberger says.
You'll delight your favorite Phillyphile with the news that the city Records Department employs not one but three staff photographers.
Their workaday job is to document construction projects around town and shoot ceremonial "grip and grin" photos for City Council, among other assignments. But Gouldy's masterpiece suggests there's gold in them thar Records Department archives. (Dig for yourself at phillyhistory.org.) *