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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 www.gowest.org.
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