For the longest time, Philadelphia was a city you passed on your way to New York or Washington. Today, Philly is “hot”. National Geographic Traveler Magazine called it “The Next Great City”.
The city of “brotherly love” (the actual meaning of the word Philadelphia) began with a grant from the British crown to William Penn’s father for a debt owed to him by the crown. The Declaration of Independence was written and signed here, the Constitution was adopted here and Betsy Ross made the first U.S flag in Philadelphia. The city was the first “planned city” in the New World, the first multi-year capital (after 1 year in New York) and had the first public library, volunteer fire department, hospital, university, zoo and computer.
How did the transition in this historic town come about? Many credit former mayor Ed Rendell for the revitalization. He got people back to Center City, cleaned up the streets and encouraged major building. Under his tenure The Kimmel Center, The National Constitution Center, The Liberty Bell Center, the Independence Visitors Center, a major convention center and two new sports stadiums were built. All that money brought new restaurants, bars and clubs and forced people to take a new look at this wonderful city.
Where New York can be overwhelming and Washington a somewhat transient town, Philadelphia is a city of great neighborhoods. There is a wonderful ethnic diversity here and the people are friendly, welcoming and passionate. Don’t start a conversation about the town’s sports teams unless you have a few hours to spare.
I love walking through different areas of town, each with its own character and eccentricities; funky South Street, the narrow streets, cobblestones and gas lamps of Society Hill, the art galleries of Old City, the smells of the Italian Market and the beauty of Rittenhouse Square just to name a few. Like Boston, this is a city that I could easily call home.
How can you not love a city that brought us Rocky, Tastykakes, hoagies, cheese steaks, hot pretzels and even Scrapple? Fortunately, they have some great hospitals too!