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Philadelphia/West

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Philadelphia/West

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West Philly is a mostly residential section of Philadelphia west of the Schuylkill River, which represented the western boundary of William Penn's original plan for the colonial city. West Philadelphia is a vibrant, diverse, multi-cultural urban area, home to three excellent and world-renowned universities. Tourists may be more interested in the neighborhoods near the campuses than the working-class that lie further west. Even farther out, at the very edge of the city, West Philadelphia gradually gives way to newer, and often larger housing in neighborhoods like Overbrook and Wynnefield, the latter of which is home to half of the Saint Joseph's University [1] campus.

Understand[edit]

With the exception of a few colonial and early federal mansions like the Woodlands and Bartram's Gardens, most of West Philly developed from farmland as an early suburb. Development moved west from the Schuylkill following the course of a network of trolleys (many of which still run today) and the El which runs above Market St. University City is also known as the "Left Bank" (an homage to Paris' Latin Quarter), as well as Philadelphia's "international" neighborhood because of the multitude of ethnicities living here.

Not surprisingly, West Philadelphia today presents a living catalog of 19th- and early 20th-century residential architecture ranging from dramatic ornate Queen Anne Victorian mansions to more humble brick rowhouses. Although many sections suffered decline and urban blight as the heavy industry that fed the demand for housing construction in West Philly dwindled and departed the United States, areas like Powelton Village, Spruce Hill and Cedar Park have been largely preserved and provide an opportunity to "step back into time" as you stroll the wide tree-lined streets of stately 19th-century homes. The area has been declared a National Historic District.[2]

West Philly is home to several large educational institutions including the University of Pennsylvania [3], Drexel University [4] and the University of Sciences in Philadelphia [5].

The area also holds most of Philadelphia's expansive Fairmount Park, the largest municipal park in the country. It is home to Mann Music Center, the Philadelphia Zoo, and soon the Please Touch children's museum. On Sundays, MLK Drive is closed to traffic, so bring your Rollerblades!

Check out Clark Park on Baltimore Ave at 43rd Street, or take a stroll on Spruce or Pine.

Get in[edit]

By public transit[edit]

West Philadelphia is primarily served by stops 30th St through 63rd St of the Market-Frankford subway/elevated train line [6], which most locals refer to simply as "the El." This transit line which, as its name suggests, runs along Market Street, connects the neighborhoods of West Philadelphia with Center City [7] to the East, ending in the Frankford section of Northeast Philadelphia [8]. To the West, the El connects the city with 69th Street Terminal in the suburb of Upper Darby, where riders can transfer to various suburban trolley [9][10] and bus [11] lines.

In addition to the El, all of Philadelphia's remaining trolley lines [12] run through West Philadelphia at some point of their route.

West Philadelphia is also served by Regional Rail, [13] the city's network of commuter lines. Every line serving the city stops at 30th St station, and each of the R1, R2, R3 and R5 lines make additional stops in the area (see the SEPTA rail map [14] for additional information).

There is also a relatively new bus line at 30th and Market called the P2P Circulator. [15] This bus is very affordable and its only stops are 30th and Market in Philadelphia and the Penn Station in New York. It's known for its cheap prices and for the quick time en route (under 2 hours).

By car[edit]

In addition to the network of city streets, West Philadelphia has easy access to Interstate 76 (usually referred to as the Schuylkill Expressway, after the river along which it was built) on its Eastern edge and Interstate 476 (the Blue Route) may be accessed on the Western edge of the area via PA Route 3 (West Chester Pike).

By bike[edit]

West Philadelphia cyclists count on one of the more extensive networks of bike-friendly streets in the city, many of them with designated bicycle lanes. These streets are all part of the city's Bicycle Network [16]. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia [17] also provides resources. There are also a few good places to get new/used bikes as well as new/used parts and accessories: The Bike Church [18] and Firehouse Bicycles [19]

See[edit][add listing]

Neighborhoods[edit]

  • Powelton Village [20][21] is a small enclave outside the University City section of Philadelphia, from 34th to 40th streets between Market and Haverford. It remains visually identifiable, an oasis of tree-lined streets, porch-fronted suburban houses interspersed with a few mansions and their commercial support buildings dating from the second half of the nineteenth century. Large, well-cared-for homes from the early 20th and late 19th century line several streets. This area is a collection of Philadelphia natives, college students and professors.
  • University City [22] Roughly speaking, University City begins at 30th street anchored by the historical 30th Street Train Station [[23], extends west just beyond 40th street, and north to Spring Garden street. The area includes two of Philadelphia's major universities, Drexel University [24] and University of Pennsylvania [25], and a teaching hospital. This is also a neighborhood undergoing gentrification [26] and "University City" refers to a rapidly growing, heavily policed, student-friendly enclave within the large working class section of the city called "West Philly." It also includes the prestigious culinary school "The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College" at 43rd and Walnut and the private university "University of the Sciences in Philadelphia". West Philadelphia also includes the residential areas of Powelton Village, Spruce Hill [27] and Cedar Park [28], all of which have large student populations. Locust Walk, a part of Locust Street that has been made pedestrian-only through the University of Pennsylvania campus, is a particularly nice place for a stroll.

Fairmount Park[edit]

  • Philadelphia Zoo 34th Street and Girard Avenue. (Parking is available along Girard Avenue at 35th and 38th Streets) [29] Open daily, except Thanksgiving Day, December 24, 25 and 31, January 1, and the second Thursday in June. 9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. March–November; –4:00 p.m. December–February. World-class zoo with camel and pony rides, bird safari, and Victorian-era train. Tickets $10.95/16.95 adults, $10.95/$13.95 children (2-11) high/low season.(Channel 6 Zooballoon additional)
  • Centennial Hall [30]. Beaux-arts building of granite, glass and iron now houses a recreation center and offices for the Fairmount Park. Free.
  • Mann Center for the Performing Arts 5201 Parkside Avenue (parking on Belmont Avenue). Tickets 215-893-1999 (fax 215-546-9524). [31] Theater and dining complex. Admission free, show prices vary.
  • Japanese House and Garden (Shofuso) [32]. The Japanese House, as it is informally known to Philadelphians, was built in 16th century style on the grounds of the Horticultural Center in the West Philadelphia section of Fairmount Park near the intersection of Belmont Avenue and Montgomery Drive.
  • Please Touch Museum, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, +1 215 581-3181, [33]. Daily 9AM-5:00PM, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. A fantastic place to take young children. As the name says, everyone is encouraged to touch the exhibits. $16.00.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Studio 34: Yoga | Healing | Arts (Studio 34), 4522 Baltimore Avenue (2nd Floor), (215) 387-3434, [34]. check website for hours. Studio 34: Yoga | Healing | Arts is a 5,000-square-foot healing and creative arts space in vibrant, diverse West Philadelphia. Opened in March 2008, it offers yoga, Pilates, healing, creative arts events, and community programs. Just 15 minutes from City Hall on SEPTA's Route 34 Green Line trolley. $5 and up. (39.948861,-75.213583) edit

Theatre[edit]

  • The Bridge Cinema Delux [35]
  • Group Motion Dance Company [36]
  • Film @ International House [37]
  • Philadanco [38] The Philadelphia Dance Company.
  • Spiral Q Puppet Theater [39]
  • Curio Theatre Company [40] (also offers lessons for children [41])

Galleries[edit]

  • Arthur Ross Gallery [42]
  • Esther M. Klein Art Gallery [43]
  • Institute of Contemporary Art [44]
  • The Slought Foundation [45]
  • Barnes Foundation. Just west of the city boundaries, a few hundred people a week get to see a one-of-a-kind collection of art ranging from the primitive to the post-Impressionist, arranged together in a mansion in the middle of a 12-acre arboretum. Many works here, although by famous artists, have almost never been exhibited elsewhere. The Foundation [46] is only open to the public 3 days a week, and advance reservations are required. Depending on the time of year, reservations can fill up weeks or months in advance.

Culture[edit]

  • Community Education Center [47]
  • East Africa Resource and Study Center [48]
  • Special Events @ International House [49]
  • Penn Humanities Forum [50]
  • University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology [51]
  • University City Historical Society [52]
  • 2nd Friday [53] on Lancaster Ave -- a more "laid-back" version of Old City's 1st Friday [54].

Live music[edit]

  • Be Happy House [55]
  • Crossroads Music, [56]. Crossroads organizes world music concerts at various venues in West Philly.
  • Danger Danger Gallery, 5013 Baltimore Ave (at 50th St), [57]. DIY concert venue in an old rowhouse. Contains two music rooms, one on the first floor and one in the basement. Concerts here have a house-show feel but can sometimes attract large crowds. All ages, BYOB. Cover charge $5-10.  edit
  • Fiume (229 S. 45th Street, Upstairs) Live blues every Sunday, 7-10, and live Bluegrass on Thursdays, 10-1:45
  • The Green Line Cafe [58]
  • Gatherings Concert Series [59]
  • Millcreek Tavern [60]
  • Music @ International House [61]
  • Philadelphia Boys' Choir & Chorale [62]
  • Pilam [63]
  • Philafunk [64]
  • The World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St, [65]. Offers an eclectic offering of concerts, from jazz to rock, from locally and nationally-renowned artists.  edit

Misc[edit]

  • Foreign Language Classes @ International House [66]
  • Kelly Writers' House [67]
  • University City Arts League [68]
  • West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance [69]
  • Penn Presents -- Annenberg Center [70]
  • The Rotunda (promotion of arts/live music) [71]
  • Strikes Bowling Lounge [72]
  • University Pinball [73]

Fitness & Recreation[edit]

  • Clark Park [74]
  • FIT Gym [75]
  • LA Fitness [76]
  • Penn Ice Rink [77]
  • Philadelphia Karate Club [78]
  • Power Yoga Works [79]
  • Strikes Bowling Lounge [80]
  • Studio 34: Yoga | Healing | Arts [81]
  • SWEAT gym (right before the Walnut Street Bridge)
  • The Urban Arboretum of University City [82]

Buy[edit][add listing]

There are two main streets in West Philadelphia along which the majority of the area's shopping is concentrated. Walnut street in University City caters to the more upscale tastes of residents, many of them students, who live on and around the college campuses, while 52nd St has historically been frequented by the less affluent residents of outlying neighborhoods. The 52nd St shopping district has recently started falling into decline, earning itself a reputation for being unsafe, but still may offer some interesting shopping and dining options for those who care to visit.

City Line Ave, which divides Philadelphia City and County from suburban communities in Montgomery County, also provides a variety of chain stores and restaurants.

  • Eastern Mountain Sports, 3401 Chestnut Street, 215-382-0930, [83]. Excellent selection of Scott Bikes - Road bikes, Hybrids, and Mountain Bikes  edit
  • The Fresh Grocer [84]
  • Clark Park Farmer's Market [85]
  • Lancaster Ave Farmer's Market (Powelton Ave & Lancaster Ave) [86]
  • Eastern Mountain Sports [87]
  • The Black Cat [88]
  • University Square [89]
  • Penn Bookstore [90]
  • The Natural Shoe Store
  • Market & Shoppes @ 30th St Street Station [91]
  • Supreme Supermarket (43rd and Walnut)
  • UC Pets (4916 Baltimore Ave)

Eat[edit][add listing]

West Philadelphia boasts one of the largest and most varied concentrations of ethnic restaurants outside of Center City. However, more familiar chain restaurants, from McDonald's to Boston Market, aren't hard to find for the less-adventurous palate. Food trucks are also popular around the university areas, leading several Penn students to start a website cataloguing and mapping all the local trucks [92], with a handy filter for only trucks that are currently open.


Budget[edit]

  • Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant, 229 S 45th St, +1 215 387-2424‎. Daily 9AM-midnight. Good, affordable Ethiopian food, if you can stand the poorly rated service and long wait times. Vegan friendly.  edit
  • Bobby's Burger Palace, 3925 Walnut Street (University City), +1 215 387-0378, [93]. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay's first "fast casual" burger joint in a major city, featuring "Crunchified" burgers—potato chips between the meat and the bun. $6-$8.  edit
  • Kaffa Crossing Cafe, 4423 Chestnut St, +1 215 386-0504, [94]. Su-F 9AM-9PM; Sa 9AM-10PM. Cross between fair trade coffee shop and Ethiopian restaurant. Vegan friendly.  edit
  • Kim's Oriental Food, 37th and Walnut Streets (in the plaza next to the Pottruck Gym). M-F 11AM-8PM, Su Noon-8PM. Food truck that's immensely popular amongst college students, because it's cheap, tasty, extremely fast, and is one of the few food trucks that feels like it's always open. $3-$6.  edit
  • Pho Cafe Saigon, 4248 Spruce St, +1 215 222-6800. Cheap Vietnamese food.  edit
  • Saad's Halal Restaurant, 4500 Walnut St, +1 215 222-7223, [95]. M-Th 11AM-9PM; F-Sa 11AM-10PM. Mediterranean restaurant. $4-$15.  edit
  • Tacos Don Memo, 38th Street, between Walnut and Chestnut Streets (University City, across from the 7-Eleven), +1 610 529-2039. Some of the best burritos and tortas in the area actually come out of this tiny, blink-and-you'll-miss-it taco truck on traffic-heavy 38th Street. Unfortunately, there will be quite a long wait—about a half hour or so—during the lunch rush, and despite their popularity, their presence is not always reliable (though you can now follow their Twitter account for updates). $2-$6.  edit

Mid-range[edit]

  • Allegro Pizza & Grill, 3942 Spruce Street (University City), +1 215 382-8158, [96]. Su-W 11AM-midnight; Th-Sa 11AM-3:30AM. A staple of the college student's late-night delivery repertoire. $8-$15.  edit
  • Dahlak, 4708 Baltimore Ave, +1 215 726-6464, [97]. M-Su 4PM-10:30PM. Economical Ethiopian/Eritrean fare, one of the original and best east African restaurants in the neighborhood. Lovely traditional decor. $8-$14.  edit
  • The Greek Lady, 222 S 40th St. (University City), +1 215 382-2600. Greek food.  edit
  • Kabobeesh, 4201 Chestnut St, +1 215 386-8081, [98]. Daily Noon-11PM. Pakistani restaurant. $8-$11.  edit
  • Koreana Restaurant, 3801 Chestnut St (University City), +1 215 222-2240‎, [99]. M Closed, Tu-Su 11:30AM-10PM. You'd never know it was there, since it's tucked behind Abner's Cheesesteaks and a Chili's, but the Korean college students will tell you it's some of the best Korean food in the city. $7-$10.  edit
  • Lemongrass Thai, 3626-30 Lancaster Ave, +1 215 222-8042, [100].  edit
  • Metropolitan Bakery, 4013 Walnut Street (University City), +1 215 222-1492, [101]. M-F 7:30AM-7PM; Sa-Su 8AM-7PM. Locally-based artisan bakery with several stores throughout Philadelphia.  edit
  • New Delhi Indian Restaurant, 4004 Chestnut St (University City), +1 215 386-1941, [102]. Su, Tu-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, M Closed. Vegan friendly. $10-$15.  edit
  • Penne Restaurant, 3600 Sansom St. (University City), +1 215 823-6222, [103].  edit
  • Sang Kee Noodle House, 3549 Chestnut Street, +1 215 387-8808, [104]. Su-Th 6:30AM-10:30AM, 11:30AM -11:00PM; F-Sa 6:30AM-10:30AM, 11:30AM-Midnight. $7-$16.  edit
  • Satellite Cafe, 701 S 50th St. Local and organic coffee shop.  edit
  • Savas Brick Oven Pizza, 3505 Lancaster Ave (University City/Powelton Village), +1 215 222-7777, [105]. 9am-2am. Pizza and beer in the front, Greek diner with a full bar in the back.  edit
  • Sitar India Cuisine, 60 S 38th St, +1 215 662-0818. W-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5PM-9:30PM; Su-Tu Closed. Vegan friendly.  edit
  • Tandoor India Restaurant, 106 S 40th St (University City), +1 215 222-7122. M-Th, Su 11:30AM-2:30PM, 4PM-10PM; F-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM, 4PM-10:30PM. Vegan friendly.  edit
  • Vientiane Cafe, 4728 Baltimore Ave. Thai/Laotian Restaurant. Vegan friendly.  edit
  • White Dog Cafe, 3420 Sansom St (University City), +1 215 386-9224, [106]. M-Th 5:30PM-10PM F-Sa 5:30PM-11PM, Su 5PM-10PM. One of the pioneers of the "buy local" movement in Philadelphia, the White Dog uses products from local farmers, and serve beers from local breweries. As a result, prices are higher. The food is mostly American/Continental style, with pub grub served at the bar. $15-25.  edit

Splurge[edit]

  • Distrito, 3945 Chestnut Street (University City), +1 215 386-1072, [107]. Su-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM. "Modern Mexican" food by local restaurateur Jose Garces. $5-$35.  edit
  • Marigold Kitchen, 501 S. 45th St., +1 215 222-3699, [108]. Su, Tu-Th 5:30PM-9:30PM; F-Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM, M Closed. $25+.  edit
  • MidAtlantic, 3711 Market Street, +1 215 386-3711, [109]. M-F 11:30AM-2PM, 4:30PM-10PM, Sa 5PM-10PM, Su Closed. Modern reinterpretation of Mid-Atlantic and traditional Philadelphian food. $5-$30.  edit
  • Pod, 3636 Sansom Street (University City), +1 215 387-1803‎, [110]. M-Th 11:30AM-10PM; F 11:30AM-11PM; Sa 5PM-11PM; Su 5PM-10PM. Stephen Starr's Asian fusion restaurant in a funky, nightclub-like decor. $10-$30.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

In West Philly, local dive bars and Irish pubs rule the roost.

  • The Blarney Stone, 3929 Sansom St (University City), +1 215 222-5340. M-F 11:30AM-2AM; Sa-Su 12PM-2AM. Dive bar popular with Penn undergrads. Cheap and crowded, serves drinks in plastic cups.  edit
  • Bridgewater's Pub, 2951 Market Street (inside 30th Street Station), +1 215 387-4787, [111]. Rotating selection of local and German microbrews on draft.  edit
  • Cavanaugh's, 119 S. 39th Street (39th and Sansom), +1 215 298 9619, [112]. Sun-Wed: 11am-12am. Thu-Sat: 11am-1am. Colloquially referred to as Cavs, this is a popular bar spot for Drexel students. On Thursdays expect a cover charge and a line out the door with lots of college students around.  edit
  • Dock Street Brewery, 701 S. 50th Street, +1 215 726-2337, [113]. Changing selection of six microbrewed beers. Gourmet pizzas prepared in a wood burning oven.  edit
  • Fiume, 45th and Locust St. Live bluegrass music on Thursday nights and $3 PBR/Whiskey specials. Located above Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant, enter on Locust street, and go up the stairs.  edit
  • Gojjo, 4540 Baltimore Ave, +1 215 386-1444, [114]. Daily 4PM-2AM. Ethiopian restaurant with a resident DJ that plays Friday and Saturday after 10PM.  edit
  • Local 44, 4333 Spruce Street, +1 215 222-2337‎, [115]. Daily 11:30AM-2AM. Good food and a large selection of craft beers, both local and from around the world. Although the name evokes the all-powerful Philadelphia labor union, the crowd reflects this West Philly neighborhood of young professionals and graduate students.  edit


  • Natalie's Lounge, 4003 Market St., +1 215 222-5162. M-Sa 8PM-2AM. Jazz club. Most popular night is on Saturdays, kicking it off with a jam session for anyone to join in and then with professional acts throughout the evening.  edit
  • New Angle Lounge, 3901 Lancaster Ave, +1 215 387-5147. A local bar on a triangle lot, hence its name. On Wednesdays, ordering a drink gets you a balloon which you pop, and there are instructions inside that tell you what to do next!  edit
  • New Deck Tavern, 3408 Sansom Street (University City), +1 215 386-4600, [116]. Daily 11AM-2AM. An Irish pub a stone's throw away from the University of Pennsylvania, it's a popular hangout for students with good bar food. Home of the first Quizo game, which is still happens every Monday and Wednesday nights.  edit
  • Sláinte, 3000 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19104 (Directly across from the south west corner of 30th street station), (215) 222-7400, [117]. Daily 11am-2am. An Irish themed pub owned by the same people as New Deck and with a similar but less collegiate feel. Draws more of a business crowd but has good inexpensive bar food and beer.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Hostels[edit]

  • HI - Chamounix Mansion Hostel, 3250 Chamounix Dr (West Fairmount Park), +1 215 878-3676 (toll free: +1 800 379-0017, , fax: +1 215 871-4313), [118]. checkin: 4:30PM; checkout: 11AM. On a scenic bluff above the Schuylkill River and 45 minutes to downtown Philadelphia's cultural and historic attractions. Associated with Hostelling International. Curfew at 2AM, daily lockout between 11AM and 4:30PM.  edit

Bed and Breakfasts[edit]

  • Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast [119]
  • The Gables Bed & Breakfast [120]
  • Spruce Hill Manor Bed & Breakfast [121]

Hotels[edit]

  • The Inn at Penn [122]
  • Sheraton Philadelphia, 36th and Chestnut Streets, [123]. Sheraton Philadelphia University City hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania features luxurious rooms, meeting space, and a restaurant near city center.  edit
  • Penn Tower Hotel [124]

Airport Hotels[edit]

  • Residence Inn Philadelphia Airport, 4630 Island Ave, +1 215 492-1611, [125].  edit
  • Marriott Courtyard Philadelphia Airport, 8900 Bartram Ave, +1 215 365-2200, [126]. Located less than 2 miles from PHL Airport. $89. (39.886269,-75.249137) edit
  • Philadelphia Airport Marriott, 1 Arrivals Rd,, +1 215 492-9000, [127]. Connected to Terminal B of the Philadelphia International Airport via the skybridge. Has event space for meetings and weddings. Ten miles from downtown Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
  • Philadelphia Airport Hilton This hotel is not recommended for those who travel with their computers. There is no wireless access in any of the rooms (despite the website saying that there is free wireless). The hotel was not very clean (especially in the lobby). The front desk staff were rude and condescending.
  • Microtel - Airport, 8840 Tinicum Blvd, +1 215 492-0700, [128]. Economy/budget hotel offering guests free local and free long distance calls in the continental United States, and free Wi-Fi in every room of their hotels, as well as advance online check-in and check-out with unlimited access to online folio information. Additional location available in West Chester [129].
  • Embassy Suites‎, 9000 Bartram Ave, +1 215 365-4500‎.
  • Renaissance Philadelphia Hotel Airport‎, 500 Stevens Dr, +1 610 521-5900‎.

Stay safe[edit]

Contact[edit]

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