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Old 04-28-2008, 07:26 PM
Status: "Hello" (set 14 days ago)
2,209 posts, read 5,127,963 times
Reputation: 1479


I saw the thread asking if anyone loves Philly and would have responded there, but I decided to start a new thread since I decided to post a more comprehensive opinion.

As a native Chicagoan who recently visited Philly for the first time, I would like to say that I loved it there. Philly combines the charm, culture and history of Boston with the down to earth sensibility of Chicago. The following attributes may sound unbelievable, but I assure you they are true:

1. People are very friendly and helpful there. After landing and the airport, I picked up my rental car (I stayed in Plymouth Meeting to save a few dollars) and encountered a rather surly woman behind the counter. Well, that must be the Philly attitude I've heard so much about, I thought. Overwhelmingly, though, almost everyone else I encountered was quite friendly.

2. Philly is very clean, at least in Center City, it's one of the cleanest big cities I've been too.

3. You actually feel safe on SEPTA. In Chicago, you hardly ever see CTA employees, let alone police or security. In Philly, transit cops are everywhere.

The suburbs are stunningly beautiful. The minute you leave the city limits (at least to the north and northwest) you encounter rolling hills, forests, and one Norman Rockwell town after another. In Chicagoland, we have a number of suburbs somewhat similar to those on the Mainline, but there scattered about, not lined up one after the other like in Philly. Admittedly, the near west suburbs are ghetto lite, and what I believe would be lower Bucks county (next to Northeast Philly) is a rather blah working to middle class area. For that matter, so is much of northeast. And I caught the train in Norristown a few times, which certainly needs a lot of work. On the other hand Conshohocken is stunning. It is so quaint and picturesque, then you get to the riverfront, and there is an incredible panorama of midrise office buildings, hotels and condos. It looks a bit out of place, but it's very nice.

Now, there were some things I didn't like about Philly as well.

1. It's impossible to find your way around the 'burbs. Roads don't follow any kind of grid outside the city, and they are poorly marked. I would often end up miles out of my way because I would miss an intersection or turnoff.

2. SEPTA badly needs a stored value card for fares. The fare system is impossible to figure out, with somewhere around a million different fares, depending on the type of transit, how far you're going, what time of day, etc. I often ended up overpaying.

3. EVERYONE in metro Philly smokes. There wasn't a man, woman or child not holding a cigarette. Though to be fair, perhaps the kids were just holding them for their parents.

4. The airport. The terminal I flew out of (on Southwest) had gray concrete walls and ceiling. Do you have any idea how gloomy and depressing this is? And it would be so easy to fix, a coat of white paint on the walls and white acoustic ceiling tile would be a 100% improvement.

Things I'm indifferent to:

1. Massive corruption. We invented it here in Chicago

2. Massive urban blight. Riding the elevated train into Center City from 69th St., and looking at the burned out neighborhoods below, it was just like taking the green line into downtown Chicago through the west side, except that in Philly there are row houses instead of single family homes.

Things that alarm me:

1. The indifference of the city. Chicago may be tremendously corrupt, but it really does work. Lots of streetscaping improvements, new and well funded libraries, the police are actively involved in the neighborhoods. I'm particularly shocked at the reports of how difficult it is to get the police to respond to criminal complaints in Philly. If the police and the city won't work with residents, there isn't much hope of saving the city.

And finally, don't hate me for this, but I'm not a huge cheese steak fan. Philly magazine said the best in the city was Cosmi's Deli in south Philly, and that's where I went. It was very good, but not really my thing. On the other hand, my guidebook pointed out that the roast pork sandwich is a lesser known Philly specialty. I forget the name of the place, but it was in the Reading Terminal Market, and the roast pork sandwich I had there may have been the greatest thing I've ever eaten in my life. It had sharp provolone! I've never even heard of sharp provolone! And with the marinated pork, peppers, on a giant fresh roll, and a bag of Herr's chips. I plan on returning to Philly just for lunch!
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Old 04-28-2008, 08:05 PM
Location: Silver Spring, MD/Washington DC
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With your SEPTA comments, you forgot to mention they don't have announcements saying gambling is prohibited like they do on CTA trains.
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Old 04-28-2008, 08:52 PM
1,031 posts, read 2,260,782 times
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I'm glad you were able to see much of the Philadelphia metro and still see that it is a great city. Philly has a mix of urban blight and some of the countrys best neighborhoods all in one. Come back again.
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Old 04-29-2008, 07:52 AM
Location: Philadelphia,New Jersey, NYC!
6,967 posts, read 17,478,265 times
Reputation: 2610
Philly is very clean, at least in Center City, it's one of the cleanest big cities I've been too.
tell that to Mayor Nagin

well something tells me he strolled off the beaten path
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