Here’s what you need to know about the DNC

(Bastiaan Slabbers for NewsWorks)

(Bastiaan Slabbers for NewsWorks)

Thousands are descending on Philadelphia for the week of the Democratic National Convention, July 25 – 28. What do we know now … and what don’t we know yet about the big event? Here’s our guide to #PHLDNC2016.

What is the DNC?

When is the DNC?

Why is it in Philly?

Will this be like when the Pope came to town? Should I leave the city?

What roads will be closed? And when?

If I stay in the city, can I go to the DNC?

What is there to do for a regular person like myself?

What is the DNC?

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The Democratic National Convention happens every four years after the primaries and ahead of November’s presidential election. During primary season, each state chooses people to represent them as delegates. During the DNC, all the delegates from each state come together to formally nominate their choice for president and vice president, and to adopt the official Democratic Party platform.

When is the DNC?

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The DNC officially runs from Monday, July 25, through Thursday, July 28. However the hubbub in the city (e.g., driving restrictions, crowds, etc.) will likely be felt beginning late Thursday, July 21, and continuing through Friday, July 29.

Why is it in Philly?

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Every four years a different city is chosen to host the DNC. This year it’ll be held here in Philadelphia. Philadelphia really began pushing for the host position back in 2014, when former Mayor Michael Nutter, and former Gov. Ed Rendell both had a hand in raising money and wooing host committee leaders. Philadelphia was officially chosen as the 2016 DNC host city in February 2015, beating out Brooklyn, New York, and Columbus, Ohio.

Will this be like when Pope Francis came to town? Should I leave the city?

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City officials promise that the logistics of the DNC are very different from those of the pope’s visit — which means that the security perimeter will be focused mainly near the Wells Fargo Center, leaving much of the city free to move about as usual. 

dnc-security-perimeter

According to a press release from the U.S. Secret Service, “fencing, other physical barriers and uniformed law enforcement officers” will enforce road closures and other restrictions. During a news conference with state, federal and local officials, James Henry, the special agent in charge of the Philadelphia office, declined to say how high the fencing would be, but said it would be comparable to what was used during the papal visit and would not block protesters from being visible to delegates.

The city expects about 50,000 visitors for the DNC, including delegates and media. Thousands of protesters are also expected.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said the department is working with activist groups ahead of the convention, and protesters won’t see police dressed in riot gear. He also touted a new city law allowing police to issue $100 fines for certain “nuisance crimes,” rather than making arrests.

What roads will be closed? And when? Will there be parking restrictions?

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Here are the roads that will be off limits starting at 12 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, until “late evening” Friday, July 29:

North and south bound lanes of South Broad Street between Packer Avenue and the Navy Yard/Terminal Avenue
Pattison Avenue from South 7th Street to the easternmost entrance to FDR Park
Terminal Avenue from South Broad Street to South 11th Street
South 11th Street from Hartranft Street to Terminal Avenue

During the same time frame, the following roads will be closed to all vehicles except those with authorized access:

Pattison Avenue from South 20th Street to the eastern most entrance to FDR Park
Hartranft Street from South Broad Street to South Darien Street
South Darien Street from Packer Avenue to Lurie Way
10th Street south of Packer Avenue

All highways and expressways in Philadelphia will be open to passenger vehicles throughout the DNC. However, commercial vehicles over five tons (i.e., delivery trucks, utility vehicles, buses and tractor-trailers) will not be allowed to drive on I-95 between exits 13 and 22.

From Monday, July 25, through Friday, July 29, exit 350 for Packer Avenue off I-76 east will be closed between 2 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Drivers should also be prepared for other exit ramp closures on I-95 at varying times, which PennDOT announced last month.

The city has also released the dimensions of a “demonstration zone” in FDR Park, across the street from the Wells Fargo Center. 

The City will be enforcing a ban on median parking on South Broad Street between Washington and Packer Avenues.  Enforcement will begin the morning of Sunday, July 24, and continue through end of day on July 29.  Curbside parking will still be allowed.

Residents whose cars are towed should call (215) 686-SNOW to locate their vehicle. Please, do not call 911.

If I stay in the city, can I go to the DNC?

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Unless you’re a delegate or a credentialed member of the media, the answer is likely no. But there are many things to do here during the week of the Democratic Convention. Which leads us to our next question.

What is there to do for a regular person like myself?

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Leading up to and during the week of the DNC Philadelphia will be bursting with patriotically themed events and celebrations. We suggest throwing on some red, white, and blue, and joining in the fun.

PoliticalFest is a week-long series of events, exhibits, and displays taking place in and around Center City. The National Constitution Center will serve as the hub for and will be the only physical location to purchase tickets. They’re otherwise available online. Tickets purchased are good for all six days: adult tickets are $15; tickets for kids under 17 are $5; and the event is free for veterans and credentialed Convention attendees.

There will be a dedicated bus loop serviced by Philly PHLASH vehicles connecting all seven participating locations. Ticket holders will be able to use the bus to travel between locations, though most are walkable.

Here’s a list of events.

The National Constitution Center’s feature exhibit, Headed to the White House, focuses on the presidential election process. Programs include PoliticalTrivia, one-on-one interviews with actors who have played presidents on-screen, led by Melissa Fitzgerald of “The West Wing”; and screenings of historic political speeches.
The Pennsylvania Convention Center has an Oval Office and Air Force One fuselage replicas; a political photo exhibit; voting booths from the past, present and future; and the “Future Leaders Fun Zone” with activities for the kids.
The National Liberty Museum is showing “First Ladies: Influence & Image” a video featuring stories of America’s 45 First Ladies. The dresses worn by First Ladies and White House China dating back to George Washington, will be on display, as well as a National Geographic photo exhibit highlighting First Families. There’s also an interactive program for K-12 students encouraging civic engagement and explaining the electoral process.
The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent is featuring iconic front pages and landmark political moments from the Philadelphia Tribune; interviews with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign from Philadelphia Gay News; and memorabilia from local collectors that highlight Philadelphia’s political convention history. There’s also a special photo-op for visitors with a life-size train replica, like those that were used during whistle stop campaign tours.
The Library Company of Philadelphia is showcasing archives from Presidential Libraries as well as writings, photographs and artifacts from the museum’s own collection. There will be an exhibit on women in American politics and 19th-century African-American political conventions.
The Historical Society of Philadelphia is featuring “Behind The Ballot,” an interactive exhibit provided by the city of Birmingham, Alabama, highlighting the Civil Rights Act and the Voters Rights Act, as well as an exhibit on Women’s Suffrage.
The Heritage Center of Union League’s “Sweep the Country: Political Conventions in Philadelphia” exhibit looks back at the 11 conventions held in Philadelphia.

 

Attend the DNC’s interfaith gathering, 2 p.m. Sunday, June, 23, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It’s free to attend and open to the public, but tickets are required.

Artists from Radnor-based Haverford Trust will begin drawing an interactive pop-up art display of Mount Rushmore at 8 a.m. on Monday, July 25, using a combination of spray paint and chalk. The mural will be on display through July 26 in Dilworth Park.

The Atlantic will host a series of policy briefings, forums and receptions with key campaign staffers, lawmakers, local officials, leading pollsters and political strategists for a range of events all centered at the Field House, 1150 Filbert St. Philadelphia, PA 19107. Events begin on Monday, July 25, and run through Thursday, July 28.

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s interactive “Money in Motion” exhibit is free and open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day during the DNC. It is a great place to learn about the Federal Reserve System and the story of central banking in the United States. 

Find food trucks, live music, and retail vendors at Philly Feast, a Night Market-style food truck festival from 11a.m. – 3 p.m, Monday, July 25, at 3rd and Arch Sts. Scheduled trucks include: Baby Blues BBQ,  Baker’s Jar, Bistro Romano, Calle Del Sabor, Chewy’s, Chow Bella, Cow and the Curd, Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, Cuisine365, Curbside Creamery, Dos Hermanos Tacos, Dump n Roll, Eat-a-Pita, Foolish Waffles, Gigi & Big R, Happy Pita, Jules Thin Crust, Li Ping Corn Company, Luke’s Lobster, Mac Mart Cart LLC, Mama’s Meatballs, Masala Kitchen, Naturally Sweet Desserts, Oink and Moo BBQ, Penns Woods Winery, Philadelphia Distilling Co., Philly Fry, Phoebes BBQ on Wheels, Rigatonis Mobile, Rio Brazilian Steak Truck, Snap Kitchen, Spicy Belly, Surf and Turf Truck, Sweet Lavender, Taco Mondo, Taza Truck, Tot Cart, Tyson Bees, Unrgrnd Donuts, and Viva Empanada and  Yards. Featured performers include Julian King, Chill Moody, Philbilly, and the B Street Band; dance groups from Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, including The Roger Lee Dancers, On Edge Movement Dance, and Philly Drag Mafia; as well as roving entertainers. There will also be games and activities, including cornhole and an interactive social media wall.

Open the entire week of the DNC, the National Museum of American Jewish History shows rare foundational documents demonstrating President Washington’s commitment to religious liberty and equality for citizens of all faiths. On display, the 1790 Letter to a Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island and Washington’s nondenominational Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789. As a bonus: convention attendees receive two-for-one admission; convention volunteers are admitted free.

South Philly’s East Passyunk Avenue neighborhood expands its weekly summer-evening stroll into a DNC Passyunk Passeggiata Street Festival, closing down the byway to cars so pedestrians can roam amid alfresco dining, live music, five DJs, and a farmers’ market, Wednesday, July 27, on East Passyunk Avenue from Tasker Street to Broad Street.

 

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This list was last updated July 23.

Got questions about the DNC? Let us know. We’ll get them answered for you. Write one in the comments section below, email kcolaneri@whyy.org, or tweet her.

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