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Old 10-23-2019, 07:14 AM
 
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I wouldn't write off Bethlehem, which has a vibrant and historic downtown. One of the best (if not the best) downtowns near Philly is Chestnut Hill, which is technically a neighborhood of the City of Philadelphia but really a separate town unto itself with a feel similar to Doylestown.

Last edited by Angus215; 10-23-2019 at 07:24 AM..
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Old 10-23-2019, 08:11 AM
 
Location: Pocopson
353 posts, read 142,449 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macalan View Post
Thanks all for the suggestions! I haven't lived in PA since the mid 80s so I'm sure lots has changed. I forgot all about Bethlehem! We used to go for Christmas, and I remember there was a great music festival I think in August that lasted a few days. Don't remember what it was called. I don't remember Easton at all.
Lehigh Valley is on an upswing. I lived there from 2012-2017 and it was amazing how much it changed in those 5 years. I can't imagine what it looks like today compared to the 80s. And the music festival you mentioned is called Musikfest and ~10 days in early/mid August (it's really fun, but honestly one of the few fun things I found to do up there). The revised SALT limits on federal taxes has been causing a lot of New Jersey people to move there, which is pushing housing prices up.

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Originally Posted by macalan View Post
We have been to Winterthur which was beautiful. We stayed in Chadd's Ford which was very pretty (but very rural) and drove through (quickly) Kennett Square and I think had lunch in West Chester. I remember going to a really interesting big book barn somewhere near there and thinking how pretty the countryside was.
I live in what is essentially Chadds Ford and agree that the specific area is rural, but you're a short car/Uber away from West Chester and Kennett Square. The book barn you mention is probably this.

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Originally Posted by macalan View Post
Not that we will send much time there (we're not really city people) but will base there. Has Philly gone through any kind of revitalization? When we went to Winterthur we based in Philly. I don't remember where we stayed, but I was able to walk to the Apple store on Walnut St and to Rittenhouse Square (lovely!). But much of Philly seemed kind of down on it's heels - dirty and lots of homeless and the smell of urine in the streets. It also had the reputation for very high crime. That was @ 2011.
Yes, the revitalization was just getting started around 2011 and is mostly caused by millennials buying flipped rowhomes in areas that were tired but conveniently located. It's unknown if the millenials will actually stay in the city once they have kids, but at a minimum, the restaurant scene got a shot in the arm and a chunk of the housing supply got refreshed. Make no mistake though; the poor and homeless still exist.
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Old 10-23-2019, 08:23 AM
 
1,114 posts, read 1,935,468 times
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Originally Posted by Patmcpsu View Post
Lehigh Valley is on an upswing.

Yes, the revitalization was just getting started around 2011 and is mostly caused by millennials buying flipped rowhomes in areas that were tired but conveniently located. It's unknown if the millenials will actually stay in the city once they have kids, but at a minimum, the restaurant scene got a shot in the arm and a chunk of the housing supply got refreshed. Make no mistake though; the poor and homeless still exist.
I would say that the revitalization started in the 1980's or early 1990's. There will always be homeless people and crime in Philly, even Center City. If anything, there are probably more homeless on the streets today than there were in 2011.

But for the OP, if you are looking for "charm", which it sounds like you are, you will find that in Society Hill and Old City.
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Old 10-23-2019, 08:45 AM
 
Location: Pocopson
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Originally Posted by Angus215 View Post
I would say that the revitalization started in the 1980's or early 1990's. There will always be homeless people and crime in Philly, even Center City. If anything, there are probably more homeless on the streets today than there were in 2011.

But for the OP, if you are looking for "charm", which it sounds like you are, you will find that in Society Hill and Old City.
You could say that quality of life in Philadelphia has been getting better-instead-of-worse for decades, and not be wrong, but I believe the 2008 housing crisis was a pivotal point for Philadelphia. I say that because of this article from earlier in the year: Slow, but steady
For the last 12 years, Philly has continued to grow — even faster than its suburban neighbors — according to Census numbers revealed today for Pa. and N.J.


This is reiterated in a more recent article which states:
Quote:
Since the local housing recovery began in 2012, after almost five years of decline that started just before the Great Recession, the Philadelphia housing market has experienced a rise that is extraordinary for this historically gritty, underdog city. In the last seven years, Philadelphia home prices have risen nearly 46%, data from local economist Kevin Gillen show. Neighborhoods grappling with disinvestment have seen housing and retail sprout. Population has grown, income has jumped, and nearly 6,000 vacant units have vanished. “The city feels like it’s getting a face-lift,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.
It's obvious that some sort of catalyst occured at that time.
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Old 10-23-2019, 09:58 AM
 
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Originally Posted by macalan View Post
Has Philly gone through any kind of revitalization?
Definitely; If you were last here around 2011 that was right around the recovery from the recession getting started. Since then we have the new Barnes museum opened on the parkway, expansion of the Franklin institute, American Revolution Museum opened and I'm sure some others. Also Dilworth Plaza at City Hall was completely redone and love park, sister cities park on the parkway. Also several new high rises added to the skyline, including the new tallest Comcast Technology center. Also in general a lot of neighborhoods changed as folks moved into the city, particularly in center city and around. Lots of new restaurants and cafes/shops. I would suggest at least spending a little time here. If you like charm, Old City, Society Hill and Rittenhouse are the neighborhoods to focus on. The museum of art is also always fun for nice views of the city and park/river behind, and of course great art (although I'll say that a large portion is under construction for a massive expansion. A new entrance just opened on the north side that reuses an old vaulted hall that was previously inaccessible). I'll also echo that chestnut hill is very charming and worth a visit. Two of the regional rail trains go there. Germantown ave has tons of shops and the neighborhood in general is just really nice to stroll around.


Quote:
Originally Posted by macalan View Post
What time of year would be best to go (we won't be going until next year)?
I'd say spring or fall (April/May or September/October). Spring is nice for all the blossoms and fall of course for the leaves. The leaves have just been changing recently. Summer I think gets pretty hot, particularly around July and August. Winter can be pretty cold, but sometimes it's not that bad. Hard to predict though. Holidays are nice too because of the decorations. Chestnut Hill gets decked out for the holidays, and of course the city (lights in rittenhouse square are really charming). I've heard good things about Bethlehem but have never been.
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Old 10-23-2019, 10:09 AM
 
9,932 posts, read 5,629,379 times
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Originally Posted by Angus215 View Post
I would say that the revitalization started in the 1980's or early 1990's. There will always be homeless people and crime in Philly, even Center City. If anything, there are probably more homeless on the streets today than there were in 2011.

But for the OP, if you are looking for "charm", which it sounds like you are, you will find that in Society Hill and Old City.
Correct. One can trace re-vitalization in Center City to at least the 90s when the Center City District was created.

Tbh, compared to San Francisco or LA we don't have a big visible homeless problem. Although I'm not saying it doesn't exist here because of course it does. It just not on the scale I have seen elsewhere.
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Old 10-23-2019, 12:35 PM
 
12,714 posts, read 28,538,951 times
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Originally Posted by macalan View Post
Thanks all for the suggestions! I haven't lived in PA since the mid 80s so I'm sure lots has changed. I forgot all about Bethlehem! We used to go for Christmas, and I remember there was a great music festival I think in August that lasted a few days. Don't remember what it was called. I don't remember Easton at all.

We have been to Winterthur which was beautiful. We stayed in Chadd's Ford which was very pretty (but very rural) and drove through (quickly) Kennett Square and I think had lunch in West Chester. I remember going to a really interesting big book barn somewhere near there and thinking how pretty the countryside was.

Not that we will send much time there (we're not really city people) but will base there. Has Philly gone through any kind of revitalization? When we went to Winterthur we based in Philly. I don't remember where we stayed, but I was able to walk to the Apple store on Walnut St and to Rittenhouse Square (lovely!). But much of Philly seemed kind of down on it's heels - dirty and lots of homeless and the smell of urine in the streets. It also had the reputation for very high crime. That was @ 2011.

Thanks again for all of the help. Looking forward to our trip. What time of year would be best to go (we won't be going until next year)?
I'd suggest that you pop back up to the Lehigh Valley on one of your trips, if not this one then some other time. Bethlehem is a vibrant very cool city that has a great downtown and festivals every few months. The most recent was Celtic Fest and coming up is Chriskindlemart. https://www.christmascity.org/christkindlmarkt/ The old Bethlehem Steel has been converted to "Steel Stacks" a popular music venue.https://www.steelstacks.org/festivals/ Musikfest is so popular that if you want to stay close, you'll want to book a hotel pronto. https://www.musikfest.org I don't go to Easton nearly as much as I do Allentown and Bethlehem but it has also undergone an upgrade with a local farmers market downtown and some really good restaurants. Of course, Crayola has been there and it's hands on place is very popular with little kids.

The Phillies farm team plays in a wonderful stadium in Allentown https://www.milb.com/lehigh-valley and the Flyers farm team http://www.phantomshockey.com/ plays in another new arena in downtown Allentown- The PPL center. I've gone there for a couple of concerts and it's a great venue. A couple of weeks ago a very cool market opened up within walking distance of that. https://www.mcall.com/business/retai...awe-story.html Time has not stood still in our cities - there are Brewpubs, bars, restaurants, museums and markets. We moved here in 1994 and for years people moaned about the heyday of Allentown and how far it had fallen. That is not the case today.
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Old 10-23-2019, 01:01 PM
 
Location: New York City
5,917 posts, read 5,331,728 times
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Originally Posted by kyb01 View Post
Correct. One can trace re-vitalization in Center City to at least the 90s when the Center City District was created.

Tbh, compared to San Francisco or LA we don't have a big visible homeless problem. Although I'm not saying it doesn't exist here because of course it does. It just not on the scale I have seen elsewhere.
Even New York. Philadelphia is no worse than those cities.
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