Best essays

As part of our effort to give thoughtful citizens a forum to comment on issues, ideas and life in our region, NewsWorks publishes essays and commentaries from experts and members of the community.

Subjects run the gamut, from history to hurricanes, politics to parenting. They can be informatuve, funny and often deeply personal. Each essay is an invitation to a public discussion. Take a stroll through 10 of the essays we most loved publishing this year.

Interested in submitting an essay for publication? Hit the button at the top of this article.


Nathan Blum

Philadelphia, an imperfect but undeniable “cradle of liberty”

By Gary B. Nash

Philadelphians snort at the idea that a building in Boston—Faneuil Hall, a marketplace and meeting place—should presume to be called “the cradle of liberty” just because James Otis gave a fiery anti-British speech there in 1761. How can that compare to a city where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States were drafted, debated, revised, and signed? This is the fourth in a monthly series of essays on key phrases from Philadelphia’s history being written for the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia project. More »


Nathan Blum

Still trying to make sense of what happened on 9/11

By Bill Wedo

Like everyone else, the TV images from 9/11 are seared into my brain, but they can never be quite real to me. The only two real images for me came as I drove up to fetch my daughter from school in Brooklyn a few days after the attacks. More »

Nathan Blum

The beach’s soul-soothing scents and rhythms

By Kathy Stevenson

As I get older, I gravitate more and more toward those things that sustain me, that please me and nourish me rather than subtract from me. Some days in my life, some long days, I have felt that subtraction keenly. If I start to get that raw feeling that everything has been scraped out of me, scraped roughly so that I have become dull and useless, then I know I need a trip to the beach. More »

Nathan Blum

The Nicholas Brothers; still inspiring more than 50 years later

By Jelani Hasan, age 13, St. Raymond’s Catholic School

Jelani Hasan is a winner of the “Achieving Greatness Through Choices” Black History essay contest at the Charles M. Finley Recreation Center in East Mt. Airy/West Oak Lane. The Nicholas Brothers were a talented team of tap dancing brothers who were Fayard and his younger brother Harod. More »


Nathan Blum

Rhyme, reason and much more behind names of Philly streets

By Dr. Robert I. Alotta

When I think of interesting street names, I have to go back to the seed that grew into my book. My son Peter was an energetic child and, when he got too energetic, his mother would hand him over to me for what today they call “quality time.” More »


Nathan Blum

Even from afar, love for Philly remained unchanged

By Queen Muse

Harsh gang wars in the early 90’s tainted the city’s glorious title, sending my family to Atlanta in search of a more peaceful dwelling; shedding tears in departure. While I grew up, cuddled in the arms of southern hospitality, my city grew up, too. More »


Nathan Blum

Drawing council lines is an exercise in disrespect

By Brett Mandel

No matter how you slice it, redistricting—drawing new political boundaries—is about dividing, not uniting. It is an exercise in disrespect. More »


Nathan Blum

Here’s how Irene brought out the best in people

By Brian Hickey

If you’d like to get a glimpse into what a hurricane did to the mind of at least one Philadelphian, here’s a weekend Tweet and Facebook status update from yours truly. More »


Nathan Blum

A month of tips on raising resilient, responsible teens

By Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg and Susan FitzGerald

During infancy and early childhood, there are a lot of “What” questions that you can look up in a child care book. As adolescence approaches, parents grapple with questions that revolve around “When” and “How.”This is the first of eight excerpts from the new book “Letting Go with Love and Confidence.” More »


Nathan Blum

Where did all the stars go?

By Karl Biemuller

Late one evening in October 1957, well after I had gone to bed and fallen asleep, my father woke me up and told me to get dressed because we were going outside. I was nine years old and really didn’t want to get out of my nice warm bed. But when he told me the reason I jumped up, threw my clothes on and dashed out the door. More »

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