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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

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.

Transportation

Public Transit

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).

Driving

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).

Cycling

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

Neighborhoods

  • 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 50th 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. 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". The area also includes the residential areas of Powelton Village, Spruce Hill [26] and Cedar Park [27], all of which have large student populations.

Fairmount Park

  • Philadelphia Zoo 34th Street and Girard Avenue. (Parking is available along Girard Avenue at 35th and 38th Streets) [28] 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 [29]. 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). [30] Theater and dining complex. Admission free, show prices vary.
  • Japanese House and Garden (Shofuso) [31]. 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.
  • The Please Touch Museum, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, +1 215 963-0667, [32]. Daily 9AM-4:30PM, 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. $9.95.

Do

  • Studio 34: Yoga | Healing | Arts (Studio 34), 4522 Baltimore Avenue (2nd Floor), (215) 387-3434, [33]. 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)

Theatre

  • The Bridge Cinema Delux [34]
  • Group Motion Dance Company [35]
  • Film @ International House [36]
  • Philadanco [37] The Philadelphia Dance Company.
  • Spiral Q Puppet Theater [38]
  • Curio Theatre Company [39] (also offers lessons for children [40])

Galleries

  • Arthur Ross Gallery [41]
  • Esther M. Klein Art Gallery [42]
  • Institute of Contemporary Art [43]
  • The Slought Foundation [44]
  • 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 [45] 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

  • Community Education Center [46]
  • East Africa Resource and Study Center [47]
  • Special Events @ International House [48]
  • Penn Humanities Forum [49]
  • University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology [50]
  • University City Historical Society [51]
  • 2nd Friday [52] on Lancaster Ave -- a more "laid-back" version of Old City's 1st Friday [53].

Live Music

  • Be Happy House [54]
  • Crossroads Music Series [55]
  • Danger Danger (900 S. 47th Street)
  • The Green Line Cafe [56]
  • Gatherings Concert Series [57]
  • Millcreek Tavern [58]
  • Music @ International House [59]
  • Philadelphia Boys' Choir & Chorale [60]
  • Pilam [61]
  • Philafunk [62]
  • The World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St, [63]. Offers an eclectic offering of concerts, from jazz to rock, from locally and nationally-renowned artists.

Misc

  • Foreign Language Classes @ International House [64]
  • Kelly Writers' House [65]
  • University City Arts League [66]
  • West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance [67]
  • Penn Presents -- Annenberg Center [68]
  • The Rotunda (promotion of arts/live music) [69]
  • Strikes Bowling Lounge [70]
  • University Pinball [71]

Fitness & Recreation

  • Clark Park [72]
  • FIT Gym [73]
  • LA Fitness [74]
  • Penn Ice Rink [75]
  • Philadelphia Karate Club [76]
  • Power Yoga Works [77]
  • Strikes Bowling Lounge [78]
  • Studio 34: Yoga | Healing | Arts [79]
  • SWEAT gym (right before the Walnut Street Bridge)
  • The Urban Arboretum of University City [80]

Buy

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, [81]. Excellent selection of Scott Bikes - Road bikes, Hybrids, and Mountain Bikes
  • The Fresh Grocer [82]
  • Clark Park Farmer's Market [83]
  • Lancaster Ave Farmer's Market (Powelton Ave & Lancaster Ave) [84]
  • Eastern Mountain Sports [85]
  • The Black Cat [86]
  • University Square [87]
  • Penn Bookstore [88]
  • The Natural Shoe Store
  • Market & Shoppes @ 30th St Street Station [89]
  • Supreme Supermarket (43rd and Walnut)
  • UC Pets (4916 Baltimore Ave)

Eat

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.

  • Abraccio Italian Restaurant
  • Abyssinia Etheopian Restaurant Vegan Friendly
  • Allegro's Pizzeria [90]
  • Ben and Jerry's (218 S. 40th Street)
  • Best House Pizzeria (4301 Baltimore Ave)
  • Dahlak, 4708 Baltimore Ave (at 47th). M-Su 4PM-10:30PM. Economical Ethiopian/Eritrean fare, one of the original and best east African restaurants in the neighborhood. Lovely traditional decor.
  • Fatou & Fama Senegalese Restaurant Vegan Friendly
  • Greek Lady [91]
  • Kaffa Crossing Cafe [92] Vegan Friendly
  • Kabobeesh Pakistani Restaurant
  • Lemongrass Thai, 3626-30 Lancaster Ave, +1 215 222-8042, [93].
  • Marigold Dining Room [94] Pricy
  • Mediterranean Restaurant - Bitar Vegan Friendly
  • Metropolitan Bakery and Cafe [95]
  • Mokas Greek Restaurant
  • New Delhi Indian Restaurant [96] Vegan Friendly
  • Penne Italian Restaurant
  • Philly Diner
  • Pho Cafe Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant
  • Qdoba Mexican Grill [97]
  • Rx, 4443 Spruce St, +1 215 222-9590. Great food, with somewhat slow service.
  • Satellite Cafe, 701 S 50th St. Local and organic coffee shop.
  • Sitar India Restaurant Vegan Friendly
  • Tandoor India Restaurant Vegan Friendly
  • Vientiane Cafe Thai/Laotian Restaurant [98] Vegan Friendly
  • White Dog Cafe, 3420 Sansom St, +1 215 386-9224, [99]. M-Th 5:30PM-10PM F-Sa 5:30PM-11PM, Su 5PM-10PM. An elegant restaurant that is bound to the local community. They use products from local farmers, and serve beers from local breweries. The food is mostly American/Continental style, with pub grub served at the bar. $15-25.
  • Zocalo, 3600 Lancaster Ave (in University City), +1 215 895-0139, [100]. M-F 12PM-3PM & 5PM-10PM, Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 5PM-9PM. Contemporary upscale Mexican cuisine.

Drink

  • World Cafe Live [101] (smoke-free)
  • New Deck Tavern
  • 12 Lounge @ The Bridge [102]
  • Gojjo
  • Local 44 [103]
  • Natalie's Lounge
  • New Angle Lounge l
  • The Blarney Stone
  • Watusi Pub
  • Bridgewater's Pub @ 30th Street Station [104]
  • Zocalo
  • Walnut Bridge Coffee House [105]
  • Dock Street Brewery, 701 S. 50th Street, 215-726-2337. Changing selection of six micro brewed beers. Gourmet pizzas prepared in a wood burning oven.
  • Fiume

Sleep

Hostels

  • HI - Chamounix Mansion Hostel, 3250 Chamounix Drive (West Fairmount Park), +1 215 878-3676 (toll free: +1 800 379-0017, , fax: +1 215 871-4313), [106]. 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.

Bed and Breakfasts

  • Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast [107]
  • The Gables Bed & Breakfast [108]
  • Spruce Hill Manor Bed & Breakfast [109]

Hotels

  • The Inn at Penn [110]
  • Sheraton Philadelphia, 36th and Chestnut Streets, [111]. Sheraton Philadelphia University City hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania features luxurious rooms, meeting space, and a restaurant near city center.
  • Penn Tower Hotel [112]

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