In parts of Philly, it’s a pop-up world

    Angela Sullivan laughs when I ask about the bold location of her inflatable pool.

    “Yeah, I know it’s probably a little dangerous,” she says. “But when we had it just on the sidewalk, it wasn’t level.”

    So, she set it up closer to the street. Like a lot closer.

    Look, I’ve grown accustomed to maneuvering around all kinds of obstacles in Philly – people who play chicken with cars, potholes as big as black holes. Aggressive water vendors who seem seriously concerned with my hydration.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    But a big inflatable pool, practically in the middle of a Northeast Philly street?

    For that, I had to stop.

    Turns out Sullivan has set up a pool — they usually only last one season — right outside her home for a few years now.

    She used to just open the hydrant to cool off her kids. But then, she said, cops started turning it off. And the public pool is too far to walk to in the heat.

    So, the mom of four “and one on the way” got creative.

    And now Sullivan says the pool at the intersection of 2nd and Cambria streets has become a neighborhood cooling spot – actually one of at least three I noticed in the area.

    “There’s some days all the kids who live around here are in there,” she said.

    When she’s feeling especially adventuresome, she adds soap – dish soap is cheapest and best, she says. And just like that, the neighborhood’s got a sidewalk Jacuzzi of sorts.

    She showed me a video she took – bubbles and smiles everywhere.

    As I drove away, it struck me that in a trendier neighborhood, this might be called a “pop-up.” You know, one of those hipster manifestations that appear unexpectedly, draw people in, and then just as quickly disappear.

    But here, one resident told me, it’s just called making do with what you’ve got.

    And there’s a lot of that — what I’m calling pop-up economy —  in some of Philly’s lower income neighborhoods.

    Not that far from the pool, there was a pop-up car wash, a bunch of guys with rags and cleaning supplies “at your service.” Down the street, a pop-up mall, with a selection of shirts to rival some stores I’ve been in.

    Have you run into any examples of these neighborhood pop-ups in your travels? Let me know.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal