Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The City Of Brotherly Love

to follow up on the post i made a few days ago: what is it that i like about philadelphia so much? its a complicated, mulitpart answer so i will attempt to do my best to answer it.

for starters, i grew up in the city. until i was 8 i lived at 22nd and green street which is located in the fairmount section of the city, right near the art museum. it was a very nice neighborhood to grow up in. it wasn't in center city but it was still plenty close to walk downtown to rittenhouse square and the franklin institute. i think thats where my love affair with the city started. back then, the city wasn't in the greatest of shape, but over the past 20 years A LOT has changed.

one of the things that has never changed about philadelphia is the residential nature of downtown. in my mind, successful cities have dense, livable downtowns. cities like new york, chicago, san francisco, and boston all fit this description, but one of the things that sets philadelphia apart is how dense its downtown is. downtown philadelphia, or center city as us locals call it, is defined by the area bordered on the east by the delaware river, on the west by the schuylkill river, market street on the north, and south street on the (duh) south. approximately 80,000 people live in this small area making downtown philadelphia the 3rd densest downtown in the US after new york and chicago. this density, combined with the amazing houses and buildings that you find in center city truly make philadelphia a wonderful place to be and walk around in.

the neighborhoods of center city are something to behold. from society hill and old city with their colonial housing to spruce street and rittenhouse square with their federal style houses and brownstones to fairmount and its rowhouses, philly has it all. and its all authentic. a lot of this stuff was built WAY back in the day. taking a walk around old city is like taking a walk in the philadelphia of ben franklin. walking in rittenhouse is like experiencing philadelphia at the peak of its might and wealth right before WWII.

and the centerpiece of philly? why, its city hall, of course! one of the grandest buildings ever built in these here united states. its just a magnificent piece of architecture and until 1987 was the tallest building in the city. but, despite buildings taller than billy penn's hat, city hall remains a true philadelphia icon.i could go on and on. i haven't even mentioned the ben franklin parkway, the art museum, franklin institute, the mudder museum of medical oddities, the reading terminal market, neighborhoods like bella vista, queen village, and northern liberties. bottom line: philadelphia is a wonderful place. i highly recommend a visit for those who have not experienced all the city has to offer. unfortunately, i can't write well enough tonight to accurately say all i want to say, so hopefully tomorrow i will be able, in more eloquent terms, describe my walk saturday night that took me from rittenhouse to old city and back.

good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

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