October 11: Revoking clean power | Modern Trail Tour | Please and hello

Systems designs, old school hellos, and PA energy in today’s news:

Missed connections: In 1912, there were millions of miles of telephone wires and nearly 12.5 million telephones in the world, and 67% were in American homes and businesses. “But none were useful without innovations that would enhance connectivity,” writes Ken Finkel for PhillyHistory Blog. Finkel looks at how the Bell Telephone building at 406-408 Market crushed the American telephony market with the new Law switchboard system. Fun fact: the phone companies eventually developed greater efficiencies by banning time-consuming courtesy words like “please” and “hello.”

Peco has assembled a new super power group to address the needs of customers who want to produce their own alternative energy, Frank Kummer reports. The 14-person Distributed Energy Group, comprised of engineers and designers, works to apply “a new company philosophy — as well as technology” to design systems that help cut costs for homeowners who need upgrades to connect their solar system to Peco’s energy grid.  

On the topic of alternative energy and federal decrees, StateImpact PA looks at how EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal to revoke the Clean Power Plan “could set the state back in ramping up renewable energy.” Former PA DEP secretary John Quigley cautions that stepping back from the goals to restrict carbon emissions in the energy sector would “result in increased soot and other public health hazards” and “also hurt the state’s economy.” Once the EPA formally submits its proposal, it must go through a lengthy public comment period.

Jason Laughlin checks out Columbus, Ohio’s experiment to pay for workers’ public transit commute, and why Philly probably wouldn’t come up with a similar incentive program. In a nutshell, according the SEPTA and Center City District (CCD), Philly doesn’t have Columbus’s extreme struggles with crippling traffic, downtown vacancies, and six percent public transit ridership of the 84,000 workers still in that area. For one comparison, CCD notes that 60 percent of Center City workers use public transit.

Conrad Benner shares a few of his favorite things with a ‘Modern Trail Tour’ of Philadelphia. Walk 10 stops in his Timberlands, including Isaac Tin Wei Lin’s mural at Juniper and Race streets, Tania Bruguera’s ‘Monument to New Immigrants’ as part of Monument Lab, and James Daniel Burns’ Gayborhood Mural above 13th and Chancellor streets.

XOXO Philly, 1904-1910 edition. Karen Chernick, contributing to Hidden City Philadelphia, highlights real photo postcards from Athenaeum’s new exhibition, ‘Real Philadelphia: Selections from the Robert M. Skaler Postcard Collection.’ These photo postcards offer a glimpse of glamorous and not-especially-glamorous life in the city: working class neighborhoods, prospering neighborhoods centered around factories and large-scale manufacturing with newly built rowhouses.

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