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Old 01-15-2011, 12:39 PM
mm4
 
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Philly's less expensive but it has fewer jobs.
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Old 01-21-2011, 10:07 AM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
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Default Boston vs. Philly

Boston is more upscale, cleaner, refined and elegant than Philadelphia.

Philly is more of a blue collar, working class kind of town. It's much cheaper to live in Philly and for this reason there are more of the younger "hipsters" in Philly as noted in another post. It also has more immigrants from places like Cambodia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Peru, Brazil, and Trinidad, etc.

There is more poverty in Philly. You will see more urban blighted areas in Philly. Back in the 1980's travel writer Bill Bryson called Philadelphia "the ugliest city in America." (Although Philly has improved significantly since then).

On the other hand, Philly is a much larger city than Boston, and it is growing. Philly has 1.6 million people - #6 in the US - and a metro area of over 7 million. Boston has 645,000 and is in 20th place.

Boston's Arnold Arboretum is better than Philly's Morris Arboretum.

The Boston Pops is better than the Philadelphia Symphony.

The Philadelphia Art Museum is (a little) better than Boston's.

Philly has a better skyline than Boston.

Philly has a better art and music scene; but Boston has a better literary scene.

Boston is much colder than Philly and the two cities are in different climatic zones. Boston usually gets much more snow, and is windier.

I considered moving to Boston once (I was born in NYC) because I had an uncle and aunt who lived in Back Bay, but chose Philly instead because it was much more affordable for me and I can't stand Boston's winters.

Philly's better skyline:




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Old 01-21-2011, 11:46 AM
 
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Very balanced comparison, Clark, but let me make a small correction to your otherwise fine post (one that matters in the classical music world). The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra are the two units of comparison. Both are excellent and in the (so-called) big five of American orchestras (with Cleveland, Chicago, and New York). The Boston Pops is a BSO tradition that begins every year in May once the regular Symphony season wraps up. They do light classics, movie music, Vienna waltzes, and the like. They finish up at the end of June, I think, when the full orchestra reassembles at Tanglewood for the summer festival season.
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Old 01-21-2011, 01:21 PM
 
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
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I miss Boston so much, I lived there part of my life however I don't think I could stand the cold anymore. I have often thought about moving back but I think I could have to go and visit in the winter to really make sure I could stand the snow. The rest of my life I have lived in Texas and Florida so I am a real softy when it comes to cold and snow.

Living there, I didn't find the people so difficult but I was one of them so maybe that's the difference.
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Old 01-21-2011, 04:15 PM
 
Location: Dallas
4,625 posts, read 8,536,495 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post
Boston is more upscale, cleaner, refined and elegant than Philadelphia.

Philly is more of a blue collar, working class kind of town. It's much cheaper to live in Philly and for this reason there are more of the younger "hipsters" in Philly as noted in another post. It also has more immigrants from places like Cambodia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Peru, Brazil, and Trinidad, etc.

There is more poverty in Philly. You will see more urban blighted areas in Philly. Back in the 1980's travel writer Bill Bryson called Philadelphia "the ugliest city in America." (Although Philly has improved significantly since then).

On the other hand, Philly is a much larger city than Boston, and it is growing. Philly has 1.6 million people - #6 in the US - and a metro area of over 7 million. Boston has 645,000 and is in 20th place.

Boston's Arnold Arboretum is better than Philly's Morris Arboretum.

The Boston Pops is better than the Philadelphia Symphony.

The Philadelphia Art Museum is (a little) better than Boston's.

Philly has a better skyline than Boston.

Philly has a better art and music scene; but Boston has a better literary scene.

Boston is much colder than Philly and the two cities are in different climatic zones. Boston usually gets much more snow, and is windier.

I considered moving to Boston once (I was born in NYC) because I had an uncle and aunt who lived in Back Bay, but chose Philly instead because it was much more affordable for me and I can't stand Boston's winters.

Philly's better skyline:



Good post and nice pictures Clark. Yes, Philly's skyline has really come along nicely over the past few years. Boston just plain doesn't want a skyline, they never did. They fight every skyscraper tooth and nail.

Also worth mentioning somebody early in this thread called Philly a city in decline. I didn't and don't believe that for a minute. Boston was the first city to recover from the 1980's crack war and recession, then NYC. Now Philly is next. Clearly PHL is coming along nicely. Correct me if you think PHL is in decline, but I suggest it is not. It's behind BOS and NYC in revitalization, but's definitely going that way.
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Old 01-21-2011, 05:07 PM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missionhill View Post
Very balanced comparison, Clark, but let me make a small correction to your otherwise fine post (one that matters in the classical music world). The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra are the two units of comparison. Both are excellent and in the (so-called) big five of American orchestras (with Cleveland, Chicago, and New York). The Boston Pops is a BSO tradition that begins every year in May once the regular Symphony season wraps up. They do light classics, movie music, Vienna waltzes, and the like. They finish up at the end of June, I think, when the full orchestra reassembles at Tanglewood for the summer festival season.
Thanks for the clarification. You are right. The "glory days" for the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra was the decades when the maestros Leopold Stokowoski and Eugene Ormandy were in charge. Still, we have the Academy of Music, the Kimmel Center, and Curtis - which is ranked with The Julliard School as one of the premier music schools in the country.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bostonian08 View Post
Good post and nice pictures Clark. Yes, Philly's skyline has really come along nicely over the past few years. Boston just plain doesn't want a skyline, they never did. They fight every skyscraper tooth and nail.

Also worth mentioning somebody early in this thread called Philly a city in decline. I didn't and don't believe that for a minute. Boston was the first city to recover from the 1980's crack war and recession, then NYC. Now Philly is next. Clearly PHL is coming along nicely. Correct me if you think PHL is in decline, but I suggest it is not. It's behind BOS and NYC in revitalization, but's definitely going that way.
No, I do not think we are in "decline" but revitalization is coming along so slowly. Certainly the population is increasing, not decreasing; and housing is getting a little pricier, too. In my neighborhood, University City (on the other side of the Schuylkill River were the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, USP, and Walnut Hill College are located) gentrification is taking place. In the 10 years when I bought my 3 story 6 bedroom c.1890 Victorian - hard to believe I snatched it for under $200K - it has more than doubled to close to a half million ... it has stained glass windows, 3 fireplaces, high ceilings, etc. Some formally rough working class neighborhoods like Fishtown, Northern Liberties to the north of Center City and Point Breeze and Gray's Ferry in South Philly are getting "hip" and more expensive.

I think there can be a lengthy discussion comparing Boston's historical roots as a Puritan city vs. Philly the Quaker city, which helped shaped the character of each of these cities. Baked beans vs. cheesesteak sandwich.
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Old 01-21-2011, 05:59 PM
 
Location: Dallas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post

I think there can be a lengthy discussion comparing Boston's historical roots as a Puritan city vs. Philly the Quaker city, which helped shaped the character of each of these cities. Baked beans vs. cheesesteak sandwich.
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Sounds like a tasty combination to me.
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:29 PM
 
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The late Digby Baltzell (a Philadelphian) wrote the book Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia, which compares the two very thoroughly. As I recall he agrees with you that Phila is more distinguished in art; Boston more in learning and business acumen as a result of that Puritan ethos.
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Old 01-22-2011, 01:47 PM
 
Location: Dallas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missionhill View Post
The late Digby Baltzell (a Philadelphian) wrote the book Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia, which compares the two very thoroughly. As I recall he agrees with you that Phila is more distinguished in art; Boston more in learning and business acumen as a result of that Puritan ethos.
And some people think Puritan heritage has no bearing on modern day Boston!
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Old 02-13-2011, 09:48 PM
 
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Being a Boston native and someone who moved to Philadelphia in my late 20's, I have to say Philly takes the cake. Don't get me wrong, I love Boston; it is a beautiful city and I will always consider it my home but if forced to choose between the two cities, Philadelphia wins. And this is coming from someone who, before I lived outside of Boston, truly thought it was the greatest place on earth, like most Bostonians. But after leaving Beantown and living in several places, and as much as it pains me to say it, Philadelphia has stolen my heart. The downtown "Center City" area of Philadelphia is far superior to anything Boston has to offer. And, when looking strictly at that area, Philly is not that far off from Boston prices. Although, Philly is still offers more affordable areas that are not as run down or "suburban" as some of Boston's "affordable" areas. You get a lot more for your buck in Philly.

Philly has a phenomenal arts scene, from the performing arts along "Avenue of the Arts" to the spectacular and beautiful museums along the Ben Franklin Parkway. Science and art museums far outshine Boston's however big name Broadway shows often have short lived stays in Philadelphia's performing art's world, as NYC is just a quick ride away and it is not uncommon to train or bus into the big apple for a Friday night show. Boston seems to keep the big ticket shows much longer although my impression is that Philly has a better independent and small show scene.

As much as Boston is referred to as a walking city, Philadelphia is much more accessible and easier to walk around in (thank you Ben Franklin for laying the city out in a grid). It is also a lot easier to navigate. Both are equal in history and old European charm. Both are set up in charming neighborhoods, each with their own unique personality and vibe. The difference is in Philadelphia, for the most part, they are all concentrated into a square area known as Center City (or just outside it) where as in Boston they are scattered about haphazardly, like much of the city.

The Philadelphia dining scene blows Boston out of the water. Boston has its share of good restaurants, don't get me wrong, but Philadelphia is a breeding ground for star chefs - just take a look at the number of Food Network stars in Philly. The Philly food scene has been ranked among cities like NYC, Chicago and San Francisco. And Philadelphians take pride in their food scene. It is one of the city’s best kept secrets for those less familiar with Philly.

Philly may be a bit "edgier" or "blue collar" overall, but the entire city of Philadelphia is also significantly larger than Boston. Much of the city is made up of lifelong hard working residents – much like what you would see if you included the neighboring towns such as Chelsea, Revere, Milton, and Quincy as part of Boston which is probably closer to a size comparison. But overall, even in Philly’s Center City, the people do seem more down to earth. It is refreshing to walk down the streets of Philly and feel like you can relate to most of the people around you (even if they don't talk to you) where as in many parts of Boston, you may feel like you don't belong if you're not of the privileged few making upwards of 6 figures and own a million dollar home (or your parents do, ala Kennedys). Both cities have a mix of extravagantly wealthy and horribly poor. You'll find just as many homeless in Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square as you will in the Boston Common. Both cities have a lively student population although I believe Boston has a significantly higher number. Despite that, Philly wins out in cultural diversity, tolerance, and acceptance.

On average the winters are significantly milder in Philly despite the relative proximity. The ease of getting to multiple beautiful beach towns offer a plethora of options to escape the summer heat that Boston does not offer. And despite the earlier posts, Mid Atlantic waters are MUCH warmer than New England - even southern New England. I've lived in Newport, RI and rarely could stand the ocean waters. I don't run out of the water screaming along the Jersey Shore Points. There is a noticeable difference. It’s no Myrtle Beach, but there is a biting cold in NE waters that does not exist.

There is much more of a "Shore" mentality ingrained in Philadelphians - the summer is for trips to the beach. As stated in another post, Philadelphia is deserted in the summer months as residents hop the trains and busses or highways to their chosen shore destination. This, of course, means there is less of a wait for that outdoor sidewalk table at your favorite restaurant on the park. Boston, on the other hand, comes alive in the summer. After months of hibernating from the frigid winters, the city is abuzz with outdoor events, activities, and tourists flooding the streets. There is no mass exodus to the ocean although occasional trips to the Cape or North Shore are not out of the norm. And, of course, summer is Red Sox season. There is an energy in the city around Fenway Park unlike any other city.

Travel in and out of Philly is much easier. Quick access to NYC or Washington DC and the PHL airport is a breeze. Philly's 30th Street Station beats Boston's South Station hands down as far as ease and access to trains, taxis, and busses. As for airports, BOS (Logan) is detached from the city and a hassle to get in and out of. Depending on where you are coming from, you likely have to drive through city traffic to get there. Public transportation is available but it is not a quick trip, likely requiring switching between trains (the T) and busses (Silver Line). PHL airport is just outside the city, with multiple highway options that take you around the downtown area so traffic often is not a major issue. Airport parking is cheaper and a taxi will get you there for $28 from anywhere downtown in 25 minutes. Trains also run every half hour from downtown that take you right to each terminal. The benefit of BOS it that you have more flight options, particularly international flights, and usually fewer delays. PHL competes with the DC, NJ and NY airports for both business and airspace and PHL is the lowest priority airport on that totem pole of often the first to be delayed.

Another spot where Boston wins out - is the sports fans. Philly fans are a bit crass and aggressive. Boston fans are fun-hearted and warm-spirited. This was even more evident after experiencing a World Series win after years of drought in both cities. Boston fans take the cake on class – and for those who lived through the Boston win and the explosion in Kenmore Square, you know that isn’t saying much. As far as baseball, basketball and hockey go, the arenas are in the heart of downtown so that adds to the excitement for both those going to the game and those just walking by. Philly’s sports complexes are nestled together just outside of Center City. Although this makes for a great tailgating atmosphere and ease for commuters, all that excitement and energy is concentrated around the parks. There is something to be said for hearing the cheers from inside the park as you walk down the neighborhood streets and the energy as the crowds spill into the streets after a win.

So all-in-all, two great cities and both have their ups and downs. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to live in both, do so. You will love them both. But if you do have to choose, Philly wins. Sorry my fellow Bostonians! The grass really is greener! At least for me.
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