Any opinions on Philadelphia?

I saw some threads asking about Seattle and Chicago…so, I thought this would be the appropriate place to ask about Philadelphia. I’m sort of interested in going, but I haven’t heard much about the place. Good things, Bad things…It doesn’t matter. Please, offer any opinions about the city. I’m open…


I spent a month in Philly one weekend!

Seriously, though…I’ve always thought of it as a slightly larger Boston, but without the charm.

And I’ve got a shiny new nickel in my pants for the first guy to pop up with the W.C. Fields quote.

My husband lived there for two months doing research. During this time, his car was stolen twice. The first time it was stolen, the police officers didn’t even bother to come to the scene to fill out a report. Hubby was left, friendless, penniless, and lost, trying to find his way to the station to fill out his report. A few days later, the car was found, little worse for wear. Hubby was ecstatic. Then, less than a week later, his car was stolen again. He trudged back to his aparment in the pouring rain. As he was unlocking the door, the phone rang.

My husband tells this story so well.


“Yeah. Hey. I got your car.”

Hubby froze. Crazily, it went through his mind that this was the thief, calling for ransom money. “Who is this?”

“Oh, this is Officer So-And-So with the police. We’ve got your car.”

“That’s great! When can I get it back?”

“Oh. It’s uhm, in the basement.”

“The basement? You mean like the police impound garage? What do you mean?”

Well, as soon as they get done winching it out we’ll take–"

“What? Winching? What?”

The cop sounded impatient. “The basement of the HOUSE, sir.”

“What house? What are you talking about?”

“OH! Well, the kids who stole the car crashed it into some lady’s house, and it fell through the floor into the basement. Uhm . . . I hate to tell you this . . . but there’s not much left.”

Turns out the car had crashed through the house, barely missing an elderly woman who was sleeping in her room, and awoke to see the somewhat surreal vision of a car coming at her through the living room, and suddenly dissapearing through her floor. The poor thing didn’t even have insurance. Hubby went by her house the next day and it was boarded up with plywood, which was already liberally covered with graffitti. They never caught the thieves, and Hubby mutters darkly when recounting this tale of woe that he doubts they even tried.

So, carless in Philly, hubby now must walk to the research center until he can get a new one. The first night’s walk home goes well . . . as well as can be expected in a poorly-lit urban center, but he is mugged at gunpoint the second night. Hubby went home, and immediately called his brother, and asked that Bro send a Western Union A.S.A.P.

He hasn’t been back since.

Great place - a city of neighborhoods. I used to live less than ten blocks from City Hall and it felt like I was living in the suburbs (with the advantage of lots of nearby restaurants and the disadvantage of not having a place to park).

Okay… Perhaps I should’ve specified. I’m considering Philadelphia University (formerlly, Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science). So, if I go, I’d be staying for a while. Are there any alum out there? Even if not, keep the opinions coming… Thanks.

Good cheesesteak ™.

Interesting place. epeepunk goes to Drexel, but we don’t live there (he commutes). Also, Esprix could tell you some more. I spent a lot of time in a few areas, doing research for my Master’s degree. Mostly in Chinatown.

The Boston comparison is sort of right, and also way wrong. Boston has a different attitude altogether, but some similar areas. Hard to put a finger on it. More of a scrappy attitude in Philly, and the Quaker influence can still be found.

Philly is indeed a city of neighborhoods. Because of land speculation, it developed from the beginning almost as a bunch of small cities jammed together into one, with each area having industry, commerce, and residences all together. Pedestrian oriented, originally, but that also means that there are some parts that have died and stayed pretty dead.

Only city I know where you can give someone directions using humans as landmarks (“turn left at the pretzel guy”). (aside to epeepunk: dear, can you tell that story, please??)

Crime exists, like other big cities. Race problems exist. Homelessness exists. But also a lot of other things, like a decent club scene (according to some people I know), theater and dance (arts), and really good schools. Tons of history, some great small museums (I love the Balsch, though I don’t get there much anymore). Sports fans who are as loud with their hate as their love, but will go a million miles for a team they can count on (and often HAVE to go a million miles to find such a team, but that is another story altogether). Physically limited but populous Chinatown, great Italian market, and some food that you can’t find anywhere else. Like real cheesesteaks, TastyKakes, and armpit pretzels (don’t ask, you’ll find out when you get here).

Hey, if you don’t like it, you can always transfer. :slight_smile:

The clarity of the planning of Philadelphia is one of the things that sets it apart from most other cities. It is very historic architecturally - everything from Colonial to Modern. The arts and culture scene is indeed very strong. A large population of college students both in the city and the surrounding towns. Fairly good public transportation connecting city to suburbs - trains that run out in all directions. Subway and buses too. And many things are within walking or biking distance.

Yes there are bad parts and scary parts. That unfortunately is the nature of cities in general these days. Something we architects (and architecture students) are trying to fix.

Now, the story (for hedra):

Bob Saget, a native of the area, tells this story about coming home for a visit.

"So my parents had moved and I’m getting directions to their house.

DAD: ‘OK, get off 95, turn left at the pretzel vendor, go straight …’
BOB: ‘Umm, Dad, you just gave me a person as a landmark.’
DAD: ‘Yeah.’

“So, I got off 95, turned left at the pretzel vendor …”

I thought it was a decent movie, though why Hanks won the Oscar for it I have no idea.

Philly has an excellent music scene. A good way to get a feel for it is checking out I’m a big fan of this station. They produce the ‘World Cafe’. You can listen over the web. It’ll give you an idea of variety of music around town. Good luck. And, uh, …cheesesteaks yes, armpit pretzels no!


I’ve lived here since coming out here from LA to attend UPenn. At first, I hated it. Hated it. Thought that while it looked like a city, it felt like Mayberry.

But that was 7 years ago and a lot has changed since then. There was a minor restaurant and club renaissance that is somewhat tapering off but has populated the city with hip, beautiful and delicious places to eat and drink. There’s more hip stores that keeps the money in the city and increases pedesterian traffic in the more high-profile parts of town.

There’s still crime and still parts of town that were meant to be developed and have been left as gaping holes instead. But it’s not that bad.

I miss LA dearly, but living there is not an option. I don’t want to move to New York because the thought of living with roommates or alone in a mousehole for a grand a month is so not appealing. So I settle for Philly, which while having some of the big city atmosphere, also has low rent (relatively). If you want to avoid crime, the best idea is to stay away from the extremes of the city (the North, West, South parts). Once you live here for a while, you’ll learn the parts of town best avoided after dark.

Well, I’m not sure I want to know about what you have in your pants Ike, but I know of two:

(the one you’re probably referring to)
"All things considered I’d rather be in Philadelphia." (Fields’ proposed epitaph), and

"Last week I went to Philadelphia, but it was closed."

Born and raised, but moved to San Diego Dec. 31. What do you want to know?


If the pretzel vendor in question is the one at the intersection of York Street and Aramingo Avenue (or one like him/them), the story is most likely true. There has been a person selling pretzels on the median strip there for over twenty years. Every single time I’ve gone through that intersection, there has been a pretzel vendor there. Whether its the same one or different ones I have no idea. I used to live in that neighborhood (charmingly called Fishtown). Most of my extended family still lives there. I love Philadelphia, but I’m biased, having been born there and having lived there for a long time. My adopted hometown of Baltimore (Go RAVENS!) is nice, but it will always be #2 in my heart.