Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: Navy Yard Edition

Thank you to the 4,500 attendees who donned ponchos, toted white and clear umbrellas and brought their most positive attitudes to brave the rain on the Marine Parade Grounds at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the site of the Fourth Annual Diner en Blanc Philadelphia.

Welcome to the Navy Yard

Navy Yard Front Gates, 1929


Braving the rain with a smile

Ravishing ladies in white at the Navy Yard

Ravishing ladies in white at the Navy Yard (photo credit HughE Dillon)

Thursday’s weather thwarted many of our plans, including using over 60 uplights designed to illuminate the trees and historic buildings along the perimeter of the grounds.  The rain also caused technical difficulties which delayed Martha Graham Cracker’s performance by an hour. Thank you to the entire band for their patience and flexibility and to DJ Sabeel Chohan for starting the dancing early and keeping it going strong after!


(Photo credit Kory Aversa)

Despite the grey skies and falling rain, we hope our passion for- and appreciation of- this year’s space radiated through! Many members of our planning team are familiar with the Navy Yard as the site of the Broad Street Run‘s Finish Line (note the sign that greeted 2,100 of the attendees who walked through the Navy Yard gates!)

Almost there!

Almost there!

Several us have friends or loved ones who work at one of the many companies that now call the Navy Yard home (from the headquarters of Urban Outfitters to GlaxoSmithKline, Tasty Baking Company and RevZilla, to name just a few) and a few of us remember childhood stories of grandparents who worked there. No matter the frame of reference, the Philadelphia Navy Yard holds an important place in the history of the city and a dynamic role in its future.

The planning team's badges were based on Natanya's great uncle's Navy Yard badge

The planning team’s badges were based on Natanya’s great uncle’s Navy Yard badge

Philadelphia is the birthplace of the US Navy – President George Washington signed the Naval Act here on March 27, 1794- and where the first 6 ships were built to defend our country. The Philadelphia Navy Yard moved from its original site in the city’s Southwark neighborhood to the current site in 1876. As the buildings were constructed, they were numbered with a shield to mark their chronological order- at one point totaling 1,000 buildings.

Marines in Formation

Marines in Formation

The beautiful buildings that frame the Marine Parade Grounds are former marine barracks; Building 101, built in 1911 and Building 100, built in 1901 and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Building 100

Building 100

Recognize Building 101?

Recognize Building 101?

Marc Vetri’s restaurant, Lo Spiedo, is housed in Building 500 at the gates of the Navy Yard.

Lo Spiedo's entrance

Lo Spiedo’s entrance

Other buildings inhabited by Urban Outfitters range from some of the Navy Yard’s oldest (3, 7, 12, 15) to building 543, which holds their cafeteria, café, fitness center and campus commons.


DEBPHL's hat tip to the Numbered Building SIgns

DEBPHL’s hat tip to the Numbered Building SIgns (photo credit Johanna Austin)

World War II saw the busiest years for the Philadelphia Navy yard- at one point employing over 40,000 Philadelphians, constructing 53 warships and repairing over 1,200. To keep up morale during the war years, the Philadelphia Navy Yard Development Association formed the Navy Yard Band and organized lunchtime shows, with entertainers ranging from Esther Williams to John Wayne.

Navy Band performing in 1941, and Mad Beatz performing in in 2015

Navy Band performing in 1941, and Mad Beatz performing in in 2015 (second photo credit Johanna Austin)

Battleship NJ

Battleship NJ

Martha Graham Cracker (dressed as Marilyn Monroe- who performed many USO shows- along with her band dressed as sailors) performed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in honor of Judy Garland, who performed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1944.

Martha Graham Cracker performs for the crowd

Martha Graham Cracker performs for the crowd (photo credit Johanna Austin)

Some of our nods were subtle…

The first hint for many

The first hint for many

While others were a little more obvious (thank you, Roddy Caravella and the Canarsie Wobblers!).

Love those Wobblers!

Love those Wobblers! (photo credit Charles Mosteller)

We threw in a nod to Sailor Jerry’s naval tattoos with our own versions and “tattoo artist” on site.


(photo credit Charles Mosteller)



We even celebrated the return of the Army-Navy Game to Philadelphia this December by sending Fox 29’s Mike Jerrick– megaphone in hand- out into the crowd to give away three sets of tickets to the game (courtesy of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau) to the most spirited couples. (This was a particularly tough task since anyone who dines and dances in the rain already has a lot of spirit!)

Some of the Most Spirited winners!

Some of the Most Spirited winners! (photo credit Kory Aversa)

This year’s event, as indicated by the “Philadelphia Neighborhoods” Preview Party theme in June, was all about showing off a different part of Philadelphia, and we are so thrilled we did! Many thanks to John Grady, the President of PIDC, Amy Schultz, Jennifer Tran and the AlliedBarton team for giving us the opportunity.

Harry Truman's historic toss

Harry S. Truman’s coin toss at the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia on
December 12, 1950

Fun Fact:  A tradition since 1890, the first Army-Navy game was held in Philadelphia at Franklin Field in 1899. Due to the historic nature of the city and the fact that it is approximately halfway between West Point and Annapolis, the most games (85) have been played in Philadelphia with Navy winning 43 of those games!

For more information click here , or to take the Navy Yard walking tour go to this link.

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