As I mentioned in a previous post, my family and I had one other major city move before we called it quits.
And the winner is……Philadelphia!
It was not necessarily our first choice, but it was not our last choice, either. It was, however, where some of our family lives; and satisfies my persistent need for a big city and location near other big cities…and the beach…..and the mountains…..and, and, and.
I enjoy getting to know Philadelphia, and its personality. It can leave you exhilarated and saddened, and sometimes both at the same time. It has been a two-year relationship with this city, and I am falling deeper and deeper in love every day. Not only is this where I am supposed to be professionally, but this is where my sweet boys and I belong as well.
I’ve decided to create my Top 10 Favorite things about Philadelphia. This list, I’m sure, is a fluid one and will change as I experience more of Philadelphia. I hope you enjoy!
Top 10 Favorites about Philadelphia
10. Higher Education
Philadelphia is one of the largest college towns in the U.S. with over 80 colleges, universities, trade, art, and specialty schools in the region, including the first university in the country, University of Pennsylvania. Not only is there so much for the students, but the universities and colleges create amazing space for the city as well, including museums, panel discussions, concerts/sports, etc…The colleges are well connected to each other, and some literally are right next to each other. I’m never quite sure when Penn begins and Drexel ends. There is NO WAY you will miss out on spectacular education wherever you wanted to go.
9. The Neighborhoods
Like any major city, Philadelphia is a mix of tradition and culture, and the neighborhoods of the city reflect this.There are neighborhoods within neighborhoods, and each one has its own personality. They are amazing to me because on each block you can see the past, the present, and the future. Now, not on every block is this a positive thing, but if you look close enough, you can see what it was, and what it can be. There are community gardens throughout the city- on the most beautiful and saddest of streets. Every neighborhood has their own community development corporations, neighborhood watch, block captains, and other civic organizations that work to address issues, celebrate history, and plan for the future. You will see the most stunning of neighborhoods; enjoy the trendiest of bars and restaurants; and meet the friendliest of people; but you will also see the hardest of times in other areas. I drive around the city everyday for my job, and there are days I am filled with anger when driving down the dirtiest or poorest of streets. But even on those days where I see only blight, I can still feel the heartbeat of the city, and know it can be better.
8. Outdoor and Nature fun
Drive, walk, bike….no matter what mode of transportation you take you don’t want to miss the nature of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. The city alone has 10,500 acres of park systems, including one spectacular park (picture below) is over 500 million years in the making. The Philadelphia parks system is considered one of the largest urban park systems in the world with the largest portion running along the historic Schuylkill River. So this obviously implies miles and miles of hiking paths, biking paths and all out beauty. It would be hard to sum up all the places to look, but all of it is worth seeing. Philly also has multiple gardens and arboretums, environmental education centers, and a hidden gem in our Horticulture Center. Seriously, I could go on an on, and still would forget outdoor awesomeness in the city. Come and enjoy!
7. The Architecture
Philadelphia is where history and modernism collide from one street to the next. The row style homes got their start in this city, and a drive through Rittenhouse, Society Hill, Old City, and West Philadelphia will have you loving their style, and also imagining a man with a white wig walking around. The older, Georgian buildings in Center City are also interesting because they have their original structure and business names carved into the stone. Many buildings that are old and unused are being transformed into modern styles, like the sustainable buildings designed by the Onion flats firm. They are most definitely something to see! Take a drive through East Falls, Germantown,Mt. Airy, and Chestnut Hill and you will see breathtaking stone homes that are over a century, or two, or three old. If you would rather walk, The Preservation Alliance has wonderful tours throughout the city. Until 1987, the iconic City Hall, with William Penn atop the building, was the tallest building in Philadelphia. According to The Curse of Billy Penn, the Philadelphia sports teams have been cursed since 1987 when the first building was constructed to be taller than City Hall. So much for that legend because the Phils won in 2008!
6. The People
You know there is something special about the people of a city when they have to write newspaper articles about appropriate behaviors at games and in public generally. Ha! Read and listen, the people in the City of Philadelphia are phenomenal. They are louder and with stronger accents, AND a little more straight forward than people from The South and Midwest, but I lie to you not, they are just as genuine and kind-hearted. They are passionate about their city, and they are not afraid to say if something needs to change. They are not easily offended, and can take anything you throw at them. They work hard, they play hard, and they love hard. It is diverse in every way from race to class to creed to religion to everything! The only issue I see, which may stem from it being an old city with so much history, is that the people do not come together much. Regarding sports and food, oh yes, but when talking about strengthening a community it has been a tough process. It is moving in the right direction with more people deciding to stand together, and I’m excited to be part of the process. So to me, even with the roughness around the edges, the people in this city are diamonds in the rough.
5. The History
I mean, really, do I need to even write anything here…..maybe something like, oh I don’t know, The Birthplace of America. Yep, that will work. Seriously though, in the city and the surrounding areas (including Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Amish Country, etc…), you will be flooded with the past meeting the present. Soak it in and enjoy!
4. Arts and Music
I have to give this city credit. While I have lived in places that tote art and music as a highlight…..Philly really lives up to it, and is still becoming stronger. The famous Art Museum, the Rocky statue, and other museums flowing down The Benjamin Franklin Parkway are just waiting to be explored and loved. I’m just in the infancy stages of the arts scene, and can’t wait to make my way through it. The water fountains and mosaic artwork (including an entire mosaic garden) that sprawl across the city are also incredible, but one of the most anticipated tours for me is the Mural Art tour. You should see this city! The murals leave your eyes wide with awe and wonder.
Philly has a diverse and eclectic music scene. Enough to satisfy anyone’s music flavor for the evening. Several of the neighborhoods, like Fishtown, have made a name for themselves for having more intimate and indiscreet settings for locals and radio folk to come and play their tunes. Northern Liberties has an outside event space called The Piazza at Schmidts. Good music, good food, and good bar scene at the Piazza. Plus, the Philly history is rich with musical talent as the birthplace of musicians like The Roots, Boys II Men,Patti LaBelle, Jill Scott, and Will Smith. Other musicians, like John Coltrane, spent most of their life creating a legacy in Philly. My first concert was at The Electric Factory for Adele, but what I am most excited about are the smaller venues and the local music.
Philadelphia has all the major sports: NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS. The universities are also awesome for a sports night out. If you are a sports lover, like me, the scene on any given game day is thrilling. The city has a Philadelphia Sports Complex section where most of the sports arenas are located. To add to the atmosphere, the City opened Phase 1 of Xfinity Live! (picture below), which is an entertainment complex smack dab in between the sports arenas. I can only imagine what tailgating is like…and I look forward to finding out. The fans are…shall we say, passionate, about their teams. They hold their teams to a standard, and when it is not met, sadly, you have to face the crowd. I adore 97.5 The Fanatic, and never thought I would love listening to sports talk radio all day, but that is what this city does to you! The players, coaches, and the sports radio personalities become so entrenched in your daily discourse. Like I’ve said before, I would love and fear playing in Philadelphia.
2. A BYOB?
Why, I don’t mind if I do. The restaurant scene is a-mazing. From your famous cheese steaks to the unique BYOBs you won’t be able to get enough. The Reading Terminal and the cheese steak houses, like Genos and Pats, are some of the biggest tourist spots. I am still new to Philly, and haven’t got sick of a good ole Pat’s cheese steak yet. Mark and I have had a blast with the BYOBs and the other Philly restaurants. The Italian joints we have gone to…WOW. The first one we went to was La Locanda Del Ghiottone, in Old City. It was so fun and small, like most of them. The owner wanted to make sure we were pronouncing “ricotta” and “gnocchi” right while the bus boy was singing Sinatra at the top of his lungs as he slammed our water glasses down on the table and kept moving. It was great and the food was delicious. At Monsu, a South Philly BYOB, we had a meat lasagna with raisins, cinnamon, and an egg on top. Just typing about it makes my mouth water. Ingenious. There are so many options and different food genres. You can never run out, but we look forward to trying.
1. Location, location, location.
Philadelphia is a couple of hours from skiing, 2.5 hours from NYC and D.C., and a short, sweet drive to a full day of sunbathing at The Jersey Shore or Rehoboth Beach. The three surrounding counties in Pa (Delaware, Montgomery, and Bucks) are beautiful and great places to raise a family. The City of Brotherly Love, and all its uniqueness has taken this Oklahoma girl by the hand and heart!