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Western Hospitality

This month Sansom Common is sponsoring the first "Go West! Go International! 3rd Thursdays," a program launched by the University City Business District (UCD) to attract visitors to the area and highlight its cultural, retail, and restaurant resources. Running from 4:00-8:00 P.M. on Thursday, September 17, the event will close off Sansom Street from 34th to 36th Streets and 36th Street from Walnut to Chestnut for a street festival and other attractions.
    At a forum announcing the program, Penn's executive vice president, John Fry, listed the goals of the UCD, established last year, as "cleaner neighborhoods, safer neighborhoods, and the beginning of a marketing and image-building program to reposition the way University City is viewed in the city and throughout the region." Initial focus was on the first two goals, which he said had begun to be addressed by efforts such as the UCD public-space maintenance program -- which employs 25 West Philadelphia residents, "formerly jobless or on public-assistance," to sweep 250 blocks of University City daily and 275 more twice a week and to perform other clean-up tasks -- and the hiring of 40 "safety ambassadors," whom he described variously as being "like a professional Town Watch," "hotel concierges," and "walking billboards for all the things we are doing in University City."
    With those and similar programs in place, Fry said, "Now is the part where we begin to tell our story, the story of University City, a wonderful and diverse set of neighborhoods." The 3rd Thursdays project is "one of many things we intend to roll out over the next several years to showcase University City." He added that it was fitting that the first event will be held at Sansom Common, which he called "the largest commercial investment in the history of West Philadelphia" and a "sign of confidence" that the area "in years to come will be a better and better place."
    Scheduled events for the kick-off include special deals and events at Sansom Common retailers; entertainment by the Philadanco dance troupe and a band sponsored by WXPN-FM on two outdoor stages; a preview reception at the Institute of Contemporary Art for its 35th anniversary exhibit, "From Warhol to Mapplethorpe: Three Decades of Art at ICA"; "Zesty Fiesta," at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, featuring Mexican music and food, along with an exhibit of Mesoamerican artifacts; various exhibits and programs at the Arthur Ross Gallery, the Esther M. Klein Gallery, the Kelly Writers House, and International House; and outdoor booths offering food from area restaurants, as well as restaurant discounts.
    3rd Thursdays are scheduled through May 1999. For more information, call the University City District at 1-888-GO-WEST7 or visit their Web site at

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