Local History Photo-Tours — It’s a Thing Here Now!

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Philly author & photographer Joe Minardi’s neighborhood tours are a fun way to learn about history, architecture, and photography in a relaxed, friendly group.  If you think East Falls is photogenic in Autumn, wait’ll you see us decked out for the Holidays!

We looked, we lolled, we learned. And then we all went out for beers. If History class was always like this, I’d have probably majored in the subject.

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East Falls has been a scrappy and diverse place since colonial times, when it was just a little fishing village on the banks of the Schuylkill River, as early back as 1633. We’ve literally centuries of architecture to admire, from stately stone mansions along tree-lined streets to tidy blocks of rowhomes designed with every “modern” convenience of times gone by.

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Joe Minardi loves this about East Falls. His 2014 book, Historic Architecture of East Falls, Manayunk & Roxborough, includes a carefully-researched chapter that illuminates our local stand-outs like Oak Mansion and Timmons House but for Joe, there’s also a treasure chest of historical & aesthetic coolness just strolling our streets.

In fact, the book he’s working on focuses on residential development in Philadelphia, so he’s full of neat facts about how our neighborhood came together.  Last Saturday, he shared some of his research with a half-dozen of East Fallsers in the first of our Walking History Photo Tours:  Midvale, McMichael & Schoolhouse  (a dog-friendly event).

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Since Joe’s a photographer as well as an historian, as we walked we stopped to admire how the houses “fit” with the streetscape, and he’d point out various details of interest for a camera’s lens. About half who came brought cameras, themselves — it was a beautiful day, clear but cloudy so the light was perfectly diffuse, and really made our Fall foliage pop.

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Shutterbugs also traded tips and compared equipment on the tour… and some neighbors chatted about whatnot as we walked between houses and paused for photos. A very relaxed, friendly tour, with some hand-outs to make sure none of us missed anything.

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After the tour wrapped at McMichael, a few of us met Joe at Falls Taproom right up the road for lunch, more local history, and shop talk. And one badass Bloody Mary for Joe, for a job well done.

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Joe Minardi’s just a regular, um, “Joe” (ha) who used to work in graphic arts but awhile back he took a jump to follow his passions for writing, history & photography. To date, he’s got three books with Schiffer Publishing plus churns out University City’s Historical Society’s newsletter pretty much single-handedly.  He’s also provided us some insights on the Hohenadel mansion, as well.

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He’s good people! And so are the East Fallsers who come on his tours. Whether you like history or architecture — or photography:  you’ll have a good time & you’ll learn to view familiar sites in a new light.

And remember:  East Falls Local tours never really “end” — they just wind up at Taproom. Or Murphy’s. Or In Riva…. you get the picture.  Post-event socials give everyone a chance to unwind & recap & maybe even make friends. All welcome.

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Thanks everyone for coming out, looking forward already to some holiday scenery.

Email us at editor@eastfallslocal.com for details about upcoming holiday photo tours.



1 Comment

  1. This was a great outting with perfect weather and great leisurely learning. No mention of Nutter in his spandex or Arlen Specter in his driveway or black squirrels? Everyone made an appearance. It was a momentous adventure. Thanks Joe, Steve, Carolyn and Morgan (for all of your camera technical tips!)

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