In case you missed it: This week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     A street view from N. 3rd and Verbeke Streets in 1941. See more historical images paired with images from today in our <a href=Then and Now photo series. (Image courtesy of the Dauphin County Historical Society) " title="icymi_1941" width="640" height="360"/>

    A street view from N. 3rd and Verbeke Streets in 1941. See more historical images paired with images from today in our Then and Now photo series. (Image courtesy of the Dauphin County Historical Society)

    Happy Friday. For most students, last school year is history, but we have a weekend full of history, education and urban news for your reading, viewing and listening pleasure.


    Historically, most cities and boroughs that entered Act 47, Pennsylvania’s program for distressed local governments found it akin to entering roach motel — easy to check in and sticky to get out. Keystone Crossroads’ latest television program explores the structural issues at the heart of these local governments’ troubles — poverty, loss of industry, aging and declining populations.  Issues no financial management program can fix.  Watch “Keystone Crossroads: Municipalities in Distress.” (WITF)

    Beyond its position as the Commonwealth’s Capitol and city emerging from financial distress, Harrisburg has a rich history. The latest Then and Now photo essay explores Harrisburg’s origins: from Hardscrabble to City Beautiful.

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    German and Pennsylvania have a long history of learning from each other. For example, Jeff Parks, president of ArtsQuest, the group that runs the Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, got the inspiration for the arts campus when he visited a revitalized former steel mill in Duisberg, Germany in 2002. Follow Marielle Segarra at #kcgermany as she explores the German Pennsylvania connection during her travels to German cities, including Berlin, Erfurt, Cologne, Dortmund, and Hamburg.

    Enjoy a look at Carlisle’s 19th century historic firehouses with an upcoming tour. There is also a book by local author Randy Watts. (Penn Live)


    The day before the June 15 deadline, the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission said they needed more time to come up with recommendations for a new formula for distributing state funding for basic education to school districts. In the 13th installment of Multiple Choices we explain the role of the commission.

    On Thursday, the commission recommended a new funding formula that would address one of the largest gaps in the nation between wealthy and impoverished school districts. 

    In the 14th installment of Multiple Choices we explain how Philadelphia’s school district is funded and how much money it spends. It’s complicated, but we tackle the not so frequently asked questions.

    On Monday,  the Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill that would delay when the Keystone Exams, a state-wide assessment of literature, algebra I and biology, would take effect as a requirement for high school graduation. Lead sponsor of that bill Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster, said the exams are already holding back students in his district, particularly those on a career and technical education track.

    Bucking national trends … unfortunately

    Pennsylvania’s 3,200 municipal pensions make up for 25 percent of the nation’s plans. At a Thursday hearing, the State Senate Finance Committee listened to stakeholders on proposed municipal pension fixes. Read Keystone Crossroads reporter Emily Previti’s tweets straight from the hearing.

    A Brookings Institution study found another way that Pennsylvania stands out when compared to other states. Pennsylvania cities have more lower-income households and high-income households than the national average.

    Mall Makeovers

    Mall space as indoor space may be history. The Gallery in Philadelphia is being transformed from an urban indoor mall to an outdoor outlet center. (NextCity)

    Philadelphia’s City Council questioned whether workers in the renovated mall would be paid a living wage, and has approved measures to help finance the project. (NewsWorks)

    Al Boscov’s plans to bid on the foreclosed Steamtown Mall have come under scrutiny by Scranton’s City Council for its financing through state grants and a federal loan.  (The Times-Tribune)

     Just for fun: beer, wine and … Woof!

    It will soon be legal to start selling beer at one area Wawa store. (Delaware County Daily Times)

    Pennsylvanians may be one step closer to being able to order home-delivery of wine. What pairing goes best with pizza? (Lancaster Online)

    Finally, humans don’t have to be the only Civil War re-enactors. There is a Gettysburg store that sells civil war costumes for dogs. Cat costumes are also included. Watch out for that hoop skirt. (The Evening Sun)

    Have a great weekend!

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