In June 2021 I traveled to Pennsyvania with two friends after weathering the endless COVID-19 pandemic. Fully vaccinated amid easing social distancing requirements, it was an unusual but welcome change to do normal things like go to a restaurant and walk around a museum. It was a pretty relaxing weekend and I don’t really have any great stories of discovery or misadventure, but I took some nice photos.
Sited on the ancestral lands of the Lenni Lenape tribe, Quaker farmer George Peirce purchased this property about 35 miles west of Philadelphia and generations of his family built a sprawling garden and arboretum complex that has been open to the public for about the last century. It has changed hands a few times over the years and is currently managed by a public trust. It got its current name from “The Long Woods”, a section of the underground railroad that came through here just across the Mason-Dixon line. The property was also a frequent meeting point for abolitionist leaders.
The Magic Gardens
This quirky location is the largest art installation created by Isaiah Zagar and was probably my favorite stop on the trip. The entire three-city-lot site is a swirling mosaic of discarded objects and cement, with pathways and tunnels running in three dimensions. Around the beginning of the 21st century they were almost priced out by gentrification of downtown Philadelphia but were able to keep and even expand the property with financial help from the community.
The rest of these photos just document normal things I did with my friends, and I can’t express how strange and wonderful that felt. We went to restaurants, bars, museums and even got a group together to sing karaoke (my favorite thing in the world which I have missed dearly).
And, of course, I got a cheesesteak.