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Old 01-17-2011, 02:57 PM
4 posts, read 15,915 times
Reputation: 10


Hi All,
I will be starting a new job at the Wharf at Rivertown facility (PPL Soccer Statdium, the old/refurbished Delaware County Power Plant) in Chester, PA. I am almost certain that I want to live in Philadelphia. The neighborhoods I am considering are (from North to South):
Northern Liberties
Olde City
Washington Square West
Rittenhouse Square
Society Hill
Queen Village
Bella Vista

You can easily figure out the theme here: Young Professionals, Coffee Bars, Restaurants, etc.

In a parallel universe with no rush hour traffic, it would take about 30 minutes to get from almost anywhere in Center City Philly to Chester. However, I am trying to be realistic about what the traffic will be like. And, I do realize that I will be basically going in the opposite direction of the morning rush hour.

As far as I can tell, it is better to live in a neighborhood that borders 95 (like Northern Liberties, Society Hill, Queen Village, Bella Vista, etc.) instead of 76 (like the Art Museum) because it would be better during the morning rush hour (heading south from Center City).

So, with all of that said, would one neighborhood be better than another from a traffic perspective?

Also, I am all ears with any other thoughts about any of these neighborhoods or any other. And, if anyone has any recs for places in Delaware County for a young single man, again, I am all ears.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-17-2011, 03:36 PM
Location: Philadelphia, PA
35 posts, read 136,870 times
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I commute Northern Liberties to Ridley Park (just shy of chester), and take essentially the same route you'd be taking. I've been here 6 months and traffic is a breeze from there. Maybe 25 minute commute from parking spot to parking spot in the 7:30-8:30 time frame. That accounts for ~5 -7 minutes getting onto 95, ~18-20 minutes on 95, and I'm just a hop, skip and jump off the Ridley exit (though you'll probably have a few minutes to tack on to Chester). Should only get better as they finish up construction on the Girard Pt Bridge.

I get on 95 at Market St, and I imagine it's going to be the same from anywhere else but QV/Society Hill (in which case you may head down Columbus to hop on). Old City will probably warrant you the quickest route, but that commute is going to vary less than 10 minutes from any of those neighborhoods I'd say. Others might chime in about traffic to be expected from south of Market, but heading down 2nd street to Market has never given me troubles.

I did consider the Fairmount area and even as far as Manayunk when looking, but I'm really happy with where I've ended up with regard to my commute (I'd also heard 76 is a worse experience than 95).

Happy Hunting!
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Old 01-17-2011, 05:42 PM
4 posts, read 15,915 times
Reputation: 10
Default Really Helpful

NOLAJim, thank you.

What time of day are you leaving? Near the peak of Rush hour?

Also, regardless of traffic (or parking) knowing what you know now, would you still prefer the Northern Liberties or would you have chosen some other neighborhood? (With NOLA in you name, I can guess your answer.)
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:32 AM
Location: Philadelphia, PA
35 posts, read 136,870 times
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Haha, NOLA is actually New Orleans Lousisiana; I just haven't gone through the effort of addopting a PhillyJim.

I leave anywhere between 7:15 and 8:15 (typically around 7:40ish), and in the summer the commute was 25 min, nowadays it's maybe 30 min to the Boeing plant.

I have friends that live off South street, in Rittenhouse, Southwest Philly, and in University City, I arguably spend most of my nights out in Old City, and I skate down Fairmont to the Schuylkill trail for exercise. After getting to know those neighborhoods, it'd be a tossup between Society Hill and Northern Liberties for me. I think you get more bang for your buck in Nolibs (1260/mo for 700 sq ft and a parking spot at the relatively nice Piazza), but Society Hill has better convenience for nightlife, and seems built to impress.

Ultimately, I'd now choose Northern Liberties again, as I have had an easy time using SEPTA to get around in the cold months, and I do not mind the 1.5 mile walk home in the summer months. Other factors that make me enjoy it are that it's extremely pet friendly neighborhood (while I don't have a dog, I do love them and pet them whenever the opportunity arises); the parking is not as easy as suburbs or suburban-like portions of the city, but it's definately findable for the friends I have come visit (it's rather easy immediately around me as the Piazza has a large free lot open til 3am); the neighborhood has an easier-going/more casual 'atmosphere' than south of Vine, by my perception (people have made eye contact and gave me a nod of recognition on the streets up here...though only a couple); and it's got a nice big grocery store coming in in the near future.
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Old 01-18-2011, 12:54 PM
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I live in Fairmount and commute down 95 everyday into Delaware. I've taken both 76 and 95 and have to say that getting to either one is a little bit more tricky than other neighborhoods with 95 being the easier one. There is no easy way to get on 76 without crossing over 676 to Vine westbound to 22nd St. I don't normally encounter much traffic except for a slowdown in the 676 trench through the city to get to 95. 76 has it's slow downs at the exit from 676 from people headed towards 30th/Market Sts. and then again where people head towards University City.
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Old 01-18-2011, 05:23 PM
4 posts, read 15,915 times
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NOLAJim, thank you again for the really good information. I used to live in North East Philly (Mayfair), but I have almost no time spent in Center City. This has been really helpful.

NOLA, one more question: from a quick googling, it sems that hoods like Society Hill and Olde City are not as good for getting a coffee and a local cafe on a Saturday morning as say Queen Village or Bella Vista. Is that accurate, or is my research shoddy?

Thanks. You are confirming what I had thought about 76, so I am glad that I asked.
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:26 PM
Location: SW Florida
5,537 posts, read 7,806,398 times
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I don't have daily experience with that commute, but I'd definitely want to live as close as possible to 95. If you can hop right onto 95, it shouldn't take long at all. There might be a bit of a backup on 95 where it splits off to 476 (past NOLA's Ridley exit) so it might take a few minutes longer than his commute. The further you live from 95, the longer it's going to take navigating through center city.
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Old 01-19-2011, 08:08 AM
Location: Philadelphia Pa
1,053 posts, read 770,705 times
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Hey DougRisk,
I commuted from NL to Chester for a couple years, and it's a fairly painless commute as mentioned above. You'll probably shave about 7-10 minutes off the drive if you live in Queen Village or Pennsport, but not enough time to consider it a major advantage or dectractor to living in one area or another. I would however strongly suggest living East of Broad so you can just jump on 95 without messing with crosstown traffic or 76 and 676.

With that said, it all comes down to what you want from your neighborhood. I've lived in NL, QV, Bella Vista and currently in the North section of Pennsport. I'm also very familiar with Old City and Wash Sq. West. Here's my take on the neighborhoods:

-- Northern Liberties
- Hottest neighborhood in the city right now.
- Lots of activity -- people walking the streets, drinking coffee outside, walking dogs. Tons of bars/pubs/eateries/cafes, new condos and townhomes. Exciting and vibrant place to be
- Getting very pricey
- Parking is really starting to suck
- While the neighborhood is vibrant, it skews substantially to the liberal-minded artist (think bearded hipster). If you're more mainstream or centrist in your thinking, you might not find the vibe you're looking for. When I lived there I loved it, but I found myself leaving the neighborhood most weekend nights to find a scene more my style
- More dangerous than the other neighborhoods listed. Borders rougher sections of N. Philly (to the North and West) and every year there are murders, rapes, violent muggings right in the heart of the NL neighborhood. I'm not trying to scare you (nothing ever happened to me or my friends), but you need to be alert and know what to look for and what areas to avoid.

Old City
- Critical mass of weekend fun
- very urban and vibrant
- Incredible American history all around you
- Everything you need right in your neighborhood -- restaurants, bars, independent shops, gyms, etc...
- Very centrally located to just about everything
- Critical mass of weekend fun (loud and abnoxious at times)
- Lots of weekend warriors invade your neighorhood which will greatly annoy you if you live there
- Expensive
- Not a true "neighborhood" feel for the most part
- Zero parking (add another 150 or so to your monthly rent and probably a several block walk to your apt. for a parking garage space)

Washington Square West
-- Basically a classier, more upscale, older demographic and calmer (also more expensive) Old City. Location is ideal for the entire city.

Bella Vista:
- Bigger neighborhood than the other
- Very close proximity to other fun neighbhorhoods
- Good neighorhood feel and relatively safe
- Italian market

- Tough parking
- Might be a little residential for you (there is a strip of bars on Passyunk Ave and good restaurants scattered about, but you're probably going to have to walk a bit -- unlike NL and Old City)

Queen Village/Northern Pennsport
- historical neighborhood with original architecture/cool sights
- Great neighborhood feel
- Lots of little cafes/coffee shops
- Very close to 95
- Fairly safe

- Expensive
- Might be too family-oriented for your wants
- Could be a little sleepy for you (handful of pubs/restaurants, but on weekends you'll probably leave the area)

Passyunk Square (I'm adding this to your list)
- Upcoming area that is only going to grow in the coming years
- Big neighborhood with room to grow
- Less expensive than other areas
- Good stock of restaurants/bars/cafes
- vibrant area

- This is the new "hipster" neighborhood, so intensify the NL crowd by 20 and that's the scene.
- Pretty far removed from Center City proper (although public transportation is a breeze)
- Mix of young artist kids with old school South Philly residents can make for a strange feel at times (nothing dangerous though)

In summary, I would rank the areas in this order for you:
-- Northern Liberties
-- Bella Vista
-- Passyunk Square
-- Queen Village
-- Old City
-- Wash. Sq. West

Good luck!
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Old 01-19-2011, 02:04 PM
Location: Philadelphia, PA
35 posts, read 136,870 times
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I would agree with what Pennsport wrote. I'm no hipster (I'm likely classified as mainstream young professional), but it's not an unpleasant crowd in NL, and I don't feel like an outsider for it. I am definately the weekend warrior described invading Old City and Rittenhouse though, and it's probably why I like the situation. All the fun at slightly less convenience but slightly less price. I do go to the NL bars (700 club for dancing, Standard Tap for chatting, Abbaye/North Third for Food), but Old City is just so centrally located and dense with activity that it's where everyone can agree upon most nights. It is not difficult to convince people to come visit my neck of the woods, if I really wanted to though.

As far as coffee shops go, I'm a poor choice as a non-coffee drinker. I think you'll find a little something everywhere. The South street area and QV/BV are where I know of some cafes that are nice. I don't know of any in Society Hlil or Old City, but I haven't looked. NL has a couple around (I stop at the one in the Liberties walk for hot chocolate in the winter and Random Tea house for ice tea in the summer; both have that unique feel to them, and I enjoy them), but I'm not of the style to sit with a latte and wifi.

Society Hill is probably the nicer neighborhood for "strolling" in. On the other hand, NL has the big screen with sports, movie nights, and the occasional live music free o' charge.

You'll also probably want to take into consideration size of unit. The cost-equivalent (including parking spot), quality-equivalent, units I could afford were a 490 SF place at Museum Tower (Fairmount), 512 SF at Chocolate Works (old city), or 700 SF at the Piazza (NoLib). I only had two days here to apartment hunt, and had to secure a lease on my visit, so I didn't hit much more than what was publicly advertised, but that's about what I found in that trip.
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Old 01-19-2011, 02:40 PM
1,030 posts, read 3,279,134 times
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FYI, you might think it's a reverse commute, but it's not when you consider the amount of people in Philadelphia who commute to the suburbs, and also the fact that Wilmington is the 2nd largest job center in the region - you're gonna have a good share of traffic going the other way. As long as you stay away from the Schuylkill you should be fine.

I would personally recommend the South Phila area around the Italian Market. This way, you can shoot down Washington Ave to Del. Ave and hop on 95. Fishtown would also be an easy shot to 95 south, however I would personally prefer to be on the southern side of CC.

Good luck!
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