Today I took the Amtrak from Philly to DC after reading at breakfast about potential contamination of Philly's drinking water supply, up the Schuylkill River on a feeder creek. Just a "fish kill" from high level of toxicity. No problem, officials say. But people shouldn't swim or even boat in the river as a precaution. Guess I'll stick to bottled water the rest of the trip and scotch that brisk morning dip tomorrow. Just when I said the water was safe to drink at the sustainability forum. Makes me glad I have a protected water source from the slopes of Mt. Tam at our house and from Hetch Hetchy when at work in SF.
On the Amtrak train I could see chemical plants in Wilmington, Delaware, home of Dupont. Those orange windsocks and loudspeakers on the chimney and rooftops are not for a festival, but rather are there in case of an "event". Bottled water for sure.
Passed through Baltimore, city I've never visited though my grandfather Carroll "skippy" Spedden came from there. A street musician, he ended up skipping off to his own beat during the Depression never to be seen again. I can see why he left there--rowhouse after rowhouse, a number of them abandoned or burned out. I'm sure there's a better side, and one day I hope to see it.
DC presentation for governmental types interested in green building and sustainability indicators at the DC Planning Office. They said the water in DC is no longer over the EPA's legal limit for lead content, with high levels of lead reduced by water treatment and replacement of old pipes throughout the city.
After visit to Washington Post offices, back through the old DC Union Station, an architectural masterpiece with coffered ceilings emitting natural light through hundreds of octogonal cut-outs. Too bad the shops are the same old chains mostly--I could have been in Anywhere USA if it weren't for the Saint-Gaudens statues staring down at me.
Return to Philly for more of its amazing nitelife in Old Town. Lemon water ice (exactly like Chicago's Italian Ice), Yuengling, America's oldest beer, ethereal beauty of City Hall which is I was told the tallest stone building (white marble?) and tallest building with a statue on top in the world, William Penn, above the moonesque clockglow. Breathtaking.
The city has walking signs hanging over sidewalks everywhere with arrows pointing out attractions, and also a very useful map showing walking distances to different neighborhoods. Maybe Philly can improve its 6.5% walk to work rate, now the 6th highest in the nation.
History everywhere--American's Constitution was printed here--here was London Coffee House where slaves were sold. A bartender says she's glad the city council banned smoking in bars (will come into effect in January), even though she's a smoker and her best customers are. "If New York could do it, we can. New York! International City of the the World. They can do it."
A candle-lit procession of students all wearing headphones moves silently through a colonial alley, on the sidewalks hundreds of people of all races and ages, taking to the streets in a warm night of laughter, jokes, wise-guy comments, Spanish Dancers, Raggaeton musicians.