Difference between revisions of "Philadelphia"
Revision as of 17:17, 26 June 2010
Philadelphia , located in southeastern Pennsylvania, on the southern fringe of the mid-Atlantic region, is the fourth-largest urban area in the United States and the country's sixth-largest city. Often referred to as "Philly," the official city boundaries are actually quite large—what started as a much smaller city began annexing the surrounding districts and suburbs in the mid-19th century, and Philadelphia the city is now coterminous with Philadelphia the county. Altogether, Philadelphia's metropolitan area encompasses a total twelve counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
As a result of Philadelphia's size, there are very large residential districts most visitors will never see. On the other hand, you could roam for miles, see distinct changes in atmosphere, architecture, and demographics, and still be within the city. For most tourists, the landing point will be in Center City, the "downtown" section of Philadelphia. It is bounded by South St. to the south, the Delaware River to the east, the Schuylkill River to the west, and Vine St. to the north. The 2005 Center City population, at nearly 100,000, makes it one of the most populated central business districts in the U.S, just behind New York City. Other popular districts to visit are Old City, West Philly, and South Philly. In the recent years, Northern Liberties (in the North region) has been gaining traction as a hip, trendy place.
Philadelphia, often called the "Birthplace of America" and referred to as the "new Athens" early in its existence, is the birthplace of America's modern democracy. Founded by William Penn in the late 17th century, the city's name translates to "City of Brotherly Love" and has been a seat of freedom since its inception; originally founded by Quakers, the colony promoted religious freedom among its residents in stark contrast to the England of the time.
Known for its role in the American Revolutionary War, Philadelphia saw the convening of the Continental Congress as well as the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Shortly after the nation's inception took place in Philadelphia, the city was named the nation's capital, a role it filled from 1790 until 1800, when Washington, D.C. took over.
Benjamin Franklin, probably the city's most famous resident, was responsible for the city's alternative title, the "new Athens." While Franklin's most famous experiment dealt with the conducting of electricity, he was also responsible for the country's first insurance company, the city's first public library and the first fire department; Franklin also played a great role in establishing the city's postal system as well as inventing new conveniences such as bifocal lenses and the Franklin Stove.
Philadelphia has seen its skyline and its name in lights throughout the years in such famous films as the "Rocky" series (the statue from "Rocky III" still stands prominently outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art), as well as films like namesake "Philadelphia" and many of Philadelphia native M. Night Shyamalan's thrillers.
The Liberty Bell is right in the center of Philadelphia inside of a pavilion near Independence Hall. The Liberty Bell is a major piece in Philly's history. It was rung to announce the news of the passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1828 in Great Britain. John Sartain in his book, Reminiscences of a Very Old Man, claims the Bell was cracked during this announcement: "The final passage of the Emancipation Act by the British Parliament is linked to a bit of Philadelphia history. On receipt of the news in Philadelphia the Liberty Bell in the tower of the State House was rung, and cracked in the ringing. When I was up in the tower in 1830, two years after, viewing the cracked bell for the first time, Downing, who was then the custodian of Independence Hall, told me of it and remarked that the bell refused to ring for a British Act, even when the Act was a good one."
The Philadelphia area's 6.2 million inhabitants comprise a diverse group of almost every nationality. Philadelphia's primary cultural influences can be seen in its plethora of Irish pubs, the city's Italian Market, the Chinatown District, and the Reading Terminal which plays host to a diverse crowd of merchants - from first-generation European and Asian immigrants to the area's local Amish and Mennonite farmers.
Philadelphia's economy is as diverse as the population that inhabits the city. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange, the oldest one in America, has been in operation since 1790. In addition the city is host to several Fortune 500 companies, including Comcast (one of the nation's largest cable television providers), CIGNA insurance, Aramark, and Lincoln Financial Group.
Dating back to the city's roots as the nation's first capital, the federal's government presence is also strong in Philadelphia. A U.S. Mint is located near Philadelphia's historic district and the Philadelphia division of the Federal Reserve Bank is close to that. Thanks to this governmental presence the city plays host to a large number of prestigious law firms and is considered one of the nation's centers of law.
The Pennsylvania Railroad, once the largest railroad company in the world, continues to influence Philadelphia's economy under the Amtrak name. Amtrak's second-busiest station, 30th Street Station, is on the west bank of the Schuylkill River and employs many Philadelphians in customer service, engineering, accounting, and IT jobs at the station.
Finally, many medical schools, pharmaceutical companies, and medical technology firms make their homes in and around Philadelphia, arguably making it the nation's healthcare capital.
Philadelphia has a humid continental climate with four distinct seasons. Winters are cold and often snowy, with temperatures usually hovering around 32°F (0°C) during the colder months. Average annual snowfall is 24 inches (59 cm) which is spread out mainly from December to March, but the area is sometimes hit by devastating blizzards that can dump up to half that total or even more on the city in one day, such as in 1996 when a single storm dumped 30.7 inches (78 cm) of snow on the city in just a couple days.
Spring and fall are rather pleasant, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s F (15°C-25°C). Summers are hot and humid, and conditions can get quite unpleasant when the air temperature is near 90°F (32°C) and humidity is high.
Philadelphia International Airport (IATA: PHL, ICAO: KPHL)  is the largest airport in the Delaware Valley, just minutes from the city and is served by taxis and the SEPTA R1 Regional Rail Line. Taxis offer a flat rate of $28.50 from the airport to Center City. The R1 railway line serves each terminal throughout the day until approximately midnight and takes about twenty minutes to travel between the airport and center city Philadelphia, making stops at all major commuter tunnel stations: 30th Street Station (Amtrak), Suburban Station (Penn Center, City Hall) and Market East Station (East Market Street, The Gallery, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Reading Terminal). Tickets for the R1 train can be purchased on-board the train, cash-only, for $7. Tickets purchased at ticket windows at stations in Center City cost $6. You can also buy a day pass for $10 valid on all regional rail trains except into New Jersey either on-board the train or at a ticket office. However, if you buy on-board the train be advised that to use your pass on SEPTA services other than Regional Rail, you will have to trade in your pass for an Independence Pass at a ticket office in the city center. A family pass is available for $25 dollars; the same restrictions apply. Alternately, the #37 SEPTA bus stops at all terminals (Directly outside baggage claim) and goes into South Philadelphia, terminating at the Broad Street Line subway station "Snyder." The trip costs $2 cash, payable to the driver.
The predominant carrier at PHL is US Airways , which offers flights to destinations throughout the U.S. and Europe, as well as a handful to Latin America. Southwest  has become US Airways' main domestic competitor at PHL, and the two airlines constantly attempt to outbid each others fares on many trunk routes.
Alternatively, you can fly to Newark International Airport (IATA: EWR, ICAO: KEWR) or Baltimore-Washington International Airport (IATA: BWI, ICAO: KBWI), each of which has a more or less direct connection by Amtrak to 30th Street Station (1 hr from EWR; 80 min from BWI). Other New York and Washington-area airports are much less convenient.
Philadelphia proper also has the Northeast Philadelphia Airport (IATA: PNE, ICAO: KPNE). PNE is Pennsylvania's 6th busiest airport. It opened in 1945, which was a great relief to the city, in which PHL (then called the Philadelphia Municipal Airport) was shut down. Currently, it operates as the city's general aviation airport and does not have scheduled commercial airline service.
The city is a major hub along Amtrak's  Northeast Corridor and Keystone lines, with frequent trains (at least once an hour during the day) from some of the nation's largest cities. Inbound trains from Washington and New York arrive at least once an hour during the day; 30th Street Station is also part of Amtrak's Acela High Speed Corridor which allows for faster travel times between the major Northeast Corridor cities. The Keystone and Pennsylvanian trains arrive in Philadelphia many times throughout the day, with Keystone service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia arriving between 10-14 times daily and Pennsylvanian service between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia arriving once each day. Additionally, Amtrak provides service to Vermont, Virginia, Charlotte, and overnight service to Florida and New Orleans.
It's also possible to get to Philadelphia from NYC via commuter rail. Using this method, one would take New Jersey Transit from Penn Station to Trenton and then transfer to SEPTA's R7 regional rail. While this is about a third the price of Amtrak service from NYC, it is more than an hour slower.
All SEPTA regional commuter lines stop at the SEPTA Platform at 30th Street Station. Commuter rail is an efficient way to see the scenic Philadelphia suburbs and enjoy the shopping that the city's 'burbs have to offer. New Jersey transit to and from Atlantic City makes stops around the clock at the station. SEPTA's Market-Frankford Elevated Line Subway stops just one block outside the station at a newly-renovated station and is efficient for travel between 30th Street, Old City, and West Philadelphia.
As a last resort, and most costly depending on destination, 30th Street Station has a taxi platform just outside the main entrance that is served by all major Philadelphia taxi companies. Several rental car agencies have cars at 30th St Station.
Philadelphia is located at the crossroads of many of the region's and the nation's most vital Interstates. Interstate 95 runs along the Eastern edge of Philadelphia as it traverses the East coast from Maine to Miami. In addition, Philadelphia is linked to the Pennsylvania Turnpike which traverses the state from east to west. The Northeast Extension of the Turnpike connects Philadelphia to the Poconos and Wilkes-Barre-Scranton. It is also served by I-76 and I-676, which connect directly to the New Jersey Turnpike and Atlantic City Expressway, and indirectly to the Garden State Parkway. Within the city, Route 1 (also called the Roosevelt Expressway) as well as Roosevelt Boulevard serves as a connector for Northeast Philadelphia and Center City. There are also bridges across the Delaware River that link Philadelphia to New Jersey. Of these bridges are Tacony Palmyra Bridge (Route 73), Betsy Ross Bridge (Route 90), Benjamin Franklin Bridge (US 30) and Walt Whitman Bridge (I-76).
Traffic - In terms of congestion Center City Philadelphia compares favorably to most large U.S. cities. Gridlock does occur, however, particularly during rush hour. Traffic generally moves at the slowest pace in the Chinatown neighborhood, on the numbered streets west of Broad and in the South St. and Olde City areas on weekend evenings. Broad St. is "nicely" congested. The most heavily-travelled roads in the area are I-95, I-676/I-76 (The Schuylkill Expressway aka "The Surekill"), which connects Center City to the various suburbs west of the city, and I-476, the "Blue Route," which curves from the south to the west of Philadelphia, connecting I-95 with I-76 and, beyond that, the PA Turnpike. Rush-hour delays are common on all these roadways: During the morning rush-hour I-95 south-bound typically backs up between the Bridge St. and Girard Ave. exits and eastbound Rt. 76 (The Schuylkill Expressway)typically jams from Gladwynne to 30th St. During the evening rush-hour, I-95 usually slows from the Bridge St. to Academy Rd. exits. On I-676 and the west-bound Schuylkill traffic can be stop-and-go from roughly Broad St. potentially all the way to the so-called "Conshohocken Curve," just east of the town of the same name, effectively doubling the time it normally takes to drive from Center City to the PA Turnpike entrance at King of Prussia. Anyone planning to drive through Philadelphia during either the am or pm rush hours would do well to anticipate the above-described traffic conditions and plan accordingly. In 2009, there has been roadwork in the late evening/early morning hours on I-76 and I-95, thus intensifying the traffic on those main routes.
Philadelphia is served by the Greyhound, Trailways, Bieber, and Peter Pan bus routes to cities across the U.S. The city is also served by an exclusive "Chinatown Bus" service, which connects Philadelphia's Chinatown district to the Chinatown section of NYC and D.C. The buses, though amazingly cheap in comparison to their more corporate competitors, are far from luxurious; they also use small terminals in both Chinatown districts, which can be daunting and undesirable for a first trip or any trip. But if it's a bargain you're looking for, the Chinatown buses are by far the best one you'll find between the two cities.
If you buy tickets online, be sure to get on the right bus. Some companies trick you into taking the wrong bus and then charge you again.
The RiverLink and Freedom Ferry services  provide travel from Philadelphia to neighboring Camden, NJ between April and September. The service provides direct service to Camden's Susquehanna Bank Center on the Waterfront, a popular concert venue for the Philadelphia area. Access to the other waterfront attractions, including an aquarium, is also provided by the ferry service.
Philadelphia is one of America's most walkable cities. This has been taken advantage of and the city is marked extremely well by "Walk! Philadelphia" signs that are placed on each block, sometimes only several feet apart, that guide visitors toward shopping, dining, gallery perusing, cultural enjoyment, local must-sees and public transportation should it need to be taken. The city has two very walkable shopping districts as well as the walkable Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which is home to many museums, including the Franklin Institute and the Museum of Art that was made famous in the "Rocky" movies.
Phlash Bus - Philadelphia has a seasonal (May-October) trolley bus for tourists called the Phlash. It runs in a 20-stop East-West circuit of major tourist locations, from the Museum of Art in the West to Penn's Landing in the East. Free for kids under 5 and for senior citizens 65 & up. It is $2 per ride or $5 for a one day pass. Look for the purple trolley bus or the winged purple & blue logo .
SEPTA Bus - SEPTA has an extensive bus network in Philadelphia. Cash fare $2, tokens $1.45. Seniors ride free.
SEPTA Regional Rail  regional commuter rail trains stop in Center City at underground commuter rail tunnels. The three major center city stops, 30th Street Station, Suburban Station and Market East Station, will drop you off right in the center of it all. Suburban Station is near City Hall, the shopping district, the financial district, and many cultural attractions; Market East Station connects to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, shopping at The Gallery ("Four blocks long, four stories high!") and the Reading Terminal Market, a famous local marketplace. Traveling within Center City is considered a "Zone 1" fare and will cost $3. Seniors ride for $1. Fares to other destinations are up to $8. Between Temple University, the city center stations and University City, service is generally frequent enough that you won't need a schedule. Service in other areas tends to be about every hour, with more frequent service during peak hours. The R1 Airport comes every 30 minutes from about 4:30 AM to midnight 7 days a week, and R5 Paoli/Thorndale and R5 Lansdale/Doylestown also have half-hourly service during the day on weekdays. The lightly-used R6 Cynwyd only comes Monday through Friday on an erratic, rush hour centered schedule.
Beware that while lines are numbered R1 through R8, there are actually 13 lines so some numbers belong to more than one line. For example, the R3 West Trenton will take you to suburbs northeast of the city while the R3 will take you southwest. Be sure to check the destination of the train before boarding. Conductors are generally polite and helpful at providing information, though not always.
New Jersey Transit RiverLINE  is a lightrail line serving 20 stations between Trenton and Camden, NJ. The line connects with DRPA's PATCO Hi-Speed Line as well as SEPTA's R7 Regional Rail line between Philadelphia and Trenton. RiverLINE travels North-South along the Delaware River entirely in New Jersey. One-way fare between Trenton and Camden, NJ is $1.35. There are reduced fare options for senior citizens, children and families. Monthly passes are available. Trains come every 15 minutes during rush hours but only every 30 minutes at other times. There is no late evening service except on Saturday nights.
New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Line  provides service to suburbs in New Jersey and to Atlantic City. Service patterns are somewhat uneven; be sure to check the schedule online in advance. These trains pick up passengers from the Amtrak concourse at 30th Street station.
SEPTA operates two subway lines and a Subway-Surface line that serve Center City Philadelphia as well as the smaller neighborhoods on the city's fringe. Cash fares are $2, but one can buy tokens ($1.45) in packets of two, five or 10. Seniors ride free with ID.
Broad Street (Orange) Line - sometimes called the Orange line - runs North-South underneath Broad St., one of Philadelphia's two major streets. It serves Temple University, City Hall, the Sports Stadium Complex and everywhere in between. The BSL also has a "spur" called the Broad-Ridge Spur that serves Chinatown and 8th & Market Sts. in Center City. Free transfers from the Broad St. Line to the Market-Frankford Line can be made at City Hall Station (BSS) to 15 St. (MFL); a free interchange with Subway-Surface Lines can be made at the City Hall station. Transfers from a subway to a bus or from a bus to a subway cost $0.75 and must be purchased before the bus or train leaves the station. This transfer is also required from the 8th St. Ridge Avenue spur to the 8th MFL station.
Market-Frankford (Blue) Line - sometimes called the Blue line or the "El" - runs North-South from the Frankford Transportation Center in Northeast Philadelphia to 2nd and Markets St., then East-West between 2nd and Markets St. and 69th St. Terminal in West Philadelphia. The line runs underground beneath Market Street from 2nd to 45 Streets within Center City, Old City, and University City, and is elevated elsewhere. An interchange with the Broad-Ridge Spur is available at 8th St. Station; an interchange with SEPTA's Regional Rail is available at 11th St. to Market East Station, 15 St. to Suburban Station, and at 30 St. to the 30th St. Amtrak Station; a free interchange with the Broad St. Line is available at 15th St. Station. A free interchange with the Subway-Surface Lines is at 13 St. Station.
Subway-Surface Lines - sometimes called the Green line is actually a set of five streetcar lines: 10 (Lancaster), 11 (Woodland), 13 (Chester), 34 (Baltimore), and 36 (Elmwood). Each runs along a different avenue in West Philadelphia, but all meet at a subway portal at 40 St. and Woodland Ave. (except the #10, which joins the subway at a portal at 36th St.) to run in a streetcar subway under the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University to 30 St., then under Market St. from 30 to Juniper St, near 13 St. It shares 30th, 15th, and Juniper/13th St. stations with the MFL, but is the only subway stopping at 19th and 22nd Sts. along Market St. There is a free interchange between the lines at all three shared stations. There is no cross platform interchange because the MFL has high platforms, and the Subway-Surface has low platforms, and these have to be on the right side of the streetcar.
Norristown High Speed Line - sometimes called the Route 100, this above-ground electric single car service departs from the 69th Street terminal on the Market-Frankford Line and travels through suburbs in the main line to Norristown. Service comes about every 20 minutes, with more frequent service including express trains during peak hours. Stops are made on request only- to request a train to stop when standing on a platform (except at 69th Street, Ardmore Junction, and Norristown), it is necessary to press a button to activate a signal to stop the train. Otherwise, trains can blast through at up to 65 miles per hour, leaving you stranded. When traveling outbound from 69th Street, passengers should be prepared to pay a fare as they exit. If you are transferring to/from the another service, you can get a transfer upon boarding for 75 cents. There is a 50 cent zone charge for passengers traveling beyond Bryn Mawr, but it is still cheaper (and sometimes faster) than taking regional rail.
PATCO Hi-Speed Line  operated by the Port Authority of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, travels between 16th and Locust Sts. past 8th and Market Sts. in Center City Philadelphia and Lindenwold Station in Southern New Jersey. PATCO runs underground in the city and rises above ground to cross over the Delaware River on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. It then runs underground in the center of Camden, then is above ground through the rest of its trip in New Jersey. There is no free interchange between SEPTA's subways or regional rail and the PATCO service. The PATCO line is the easiest way to access Camden, NJ's waterfront attractions, including the New Jersey State Aquarium and the Tweeter Center at the Waterfront concert venue. Fees for the service are based on the distance of travel. Those rates are as follows:
Taxis are regulated by the Philadelphia Parking Authority and display a medallion license on their hood. As a result, Go2Go does not serve Philadelphia and the surrounding area. All taxis are metered. Rates are $2.70 at flagfall and $2.30 per mile (1.6 km). There is also $.50 cent gas surcharge. For trips from the airport, a flat rate, including fuel surcharge, of $28.50 applies. An additional $1 per passenger ($3 maximum) after the first passenger will be charged on flat rate trips between the airport and Center City for those passengers over the age of 12. Tipping for good service is common.
Philadelphia is also home to PhillyCarShare  and Zipcar, where, after registering, you can book vehicles by the hour or day for significantly less than a rental car. PhillyCarShare has vehicles including Toyota Pruises, Volkswagen Beetles and Mini Coopers stationed at various locations called 'pods' around Philadelphia. You first book online, and then use your personal key to unlock the vehicle and away you go. Rental is $5.90-7.90 per hour, or approximately $50 for a full day, plus a few dollars booking fee and $0.09 per mile (1.6 km) traveled.
SEPTA operates 8 trolleys lines including the 5 subway-surface branch lines and the two suburban trolley lines, numbered 101 and 102, that leave from the 69th Street terminal on the Market Frankford Line. In addition, the 15 line (running along Girard Ave.) has recently been renovated and vintage trolley cars are now in use on this route. Connections to this line can be made at either the Broad Street Line or Market-Frankfort Line Girard Stations; a transfer should be purchased upon boarding the trolley or entering your origin subway station for 75 cents to avoid paying an additional fare when making the connection. Among its other uses, the 15 line provides the only rail link to the Philadelphia Zoo. SEPTA has also been studying whether to restore trolley service on former lines, as many miles of rail are still in place.
Much of Philadelphia's art requires not a dollar to see and not a building to enter. Philadelphia has the largest collection of public art in the nation, courtesy of the city's innovative Mural Arts Program , designed to stop graffiti and enliven the city's buildings. Other public art of note includes the many glass mosaics found throughout the city; a sampling of this great public art can be seen on South St. east of Broad.
Center city Philadelphia offers many public statue displays. "The Clothespin" is a sculpture by Claes Oldenburg that resembles a clothespin located just across from City Hall on West Market St. LOVE Park, serving as a terminus between City Hall and the museum-laden Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., features a famous LOVE statue that has come to represent the brotherly love that Philadelphia was founded on. The site once was the city's (and perhaps the nation's) most popular skating attraction until new legislation and remodeling efforts outlawed skating in the park. Just across the JFK Blvd. from City Hall at the Municipal Services Building, visitors can find many larger than life game pieces from popular board games as well as a statue of former mayor Frank Rizzo.
More statues can be found throughout Fairmount Park  along Kelly Dr. on east side of the Schuykill River. Sculptures by Remmington can be found on the path, while several sculptures by Alexander Milne Calder can be found in Laurel Hill Cemetery , which is located just off the paved walking path.
Center City West is home to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Academy of Natural Sciences, Franklin Institute Science Museum, Mutter Museum, Rosenbach Museum & Library and Rodin Museum. Center City East is home to the African American Museum, and Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia History. Old City is home to the National Museum of American Jewish History and Independence Seaport Museum. West Philly is home to the Please Touch Museum.
Theater and music
Philadelphia is rich with educational opportunities. Universities include Temple University, Philadelphia University , Drexel University  with the only co-op program in the area, the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania , La Salle University  a major Catholic university, Saint Joseph's University  a Jesuit university, and The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia  a divinity school.
The Community College of Philadelphia  is Philadelphia's premier community college.
Art schools include the University of the Arts , one of the most prestigious art schools in America, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts , Moore College of Art and Design  an all women college, Hussian School of Art , and the Art Institute Philadelphia .
Philadelphia's job market is ever-expanding both in the city and in its suburbs. The 975' Comcast Center is a constant reminder of the economic revitalization of Philadelphia and of Comcast's presence in the city. Additionally, a Keystone Opportunity Zone over the Powelton Rail Yards adjacent to 30th St. Station promises a bright future for jobs and new office buildings in the city.
Historically, Philadelphia's Old City has always been a center of commerce, and as Philadelphia grew to be a bigger city many shops and department stores were located on Market Street between Old City and City Hall. Two such landmark department stores on Market Street were Gimbels and Strawbridge & Clothiers, which faced increasing difficulty in competing against suburban department chains in the 20th century. In the 1970s, the Gallery at Market East, an urban mall utilizing Gimbels and Strawbridge & Clothiers as major anchors, opened to stem the tide of retailers fleeing the urban core to the regional shopping malls. Despite initial success in the first decade or so of operation, the Gallery remained unable to compete; Gimbels closed in 1986 and is now a KMart, while Strawbridge's closed in 2006 and now stands vacant. The rest of the mall offers mid-range stores catering to the city's working class population, and has a busy food court on the basement level, convenient for the 12,000 or so daily commuters who take the regional rail into the city.
Just northwest of the Gallery is the Reading Terminal Market, an very successful indoor public market that opened in 1893 at the site of the Reading Railroad's headhouse terminal, now part of the Philadelphia Convention Center, after open-air sidewalk markets were closed down in the 1850's due to health and safety concerns. Some of the vendors have been in business for over a century, and sell produce, meats, chocolates, and a variety of other usually handmade foodstuffs and items. There are a lot of small restaurants as well as a section for Pennsylvania Dutch (or Amish) vendors.
The high-end shopping district of Center City did eventually regain its footing in downtown Philadelphia starting in the 1980s and 1990s, and is located along Chestnut Streets and Walnut Streets west of Broad Street to Rittenhouse Square, featuring national brands and boutiques, from the high-end Burberry, Tiffany and Diesel to locally-managed Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. Chestnut Street also has a larger range of mid-range shops as well, with many ma-and-pa outfits in addition to bargain big-leaguers H&M and Daffy's, and extends from as far east as 11th Street to 22nd Streets. However, smaller upscale urban malls also do exist in this area: The Shoppes at Liberty Place is located Philadelphia's second-tallest building, and The Shops at the Bellevue is located in a historic building on Broad Street.
For a more unique flavor, there are shopping districts with its own distinct character. North Third Street in Old City has the city's best in high-end, independent retailers. Antique Row, on Pine Street between 9th and 13th (Center City), is home to a mix of antique stores and local gift and craft boutiques. The Italian Market in South Philly is an open-air street market with fresh produce and food; although it was historically an Italian district, there is now a large infusion of Mexicans. Chinatown (Center City) is similar to many other similar Chinatowns in various U.S. cities, as an ethnic enclave of Asian American immigrants and residents.
If you do want to get out of the city and experience the regional malls, there is the King of Prussia Mall, the largest mall on the East Coast with mostly upscale stores; Franklin Mills Mall which is mostly outlet stores; and Willow Grove Park with the mid-range stores and remnants of a former amusement park at the site.
See the Districts articles for specific listings.
No trip to Philadelphia is complete without trying the cheesesteak, Philly's most famous homegrown food, a sandwich made of a fresh roll filled with grilled shaved beef and cheese (as well as onions, mushrooms, and other optional sides). The spiritual homes of the cheesesteak are Pat's King of Steaks , where the cheesesteak was invented, and Geno's Steaks, where they claim to have improved on Pat's version. They are located next to each other in South Philly.
Although Pat's and Geno's are the most famous cheesesteak joints, there are many others to choose from, particularly in South Philadelphia—John's Roast Pork at Snyder and alley-street Weccacoe is considered by many locals to offer a standout, and many prefer Jim's Steaks  or Tony Luke's . Though South Philadelphia is the undisputed home of this sandwich, Steve's Prince of Steaks in Northeast Philadelphia off Cottman Ave. is outstanding. 'The Great Northeast' is also home to Chink's Steaks, a delightful drug-store throwback on Torresdale Avenue near the Delaware River. No cheesesteak aficionado can call himself such without a visit to Dalessandro's Steaks or Chubby's on Henry Avenue in the Roxborough section of Northwest Philadelphia (north of Manayunk and East Falls). This regions best steak, though, is found at takeout only Sorrentino's on cresson in Manayunk. Sonny's in Old City, on Market St between 3rd and 4th, also serves an excellent cheesesteak in a location convenient to Independence Hall. Philadelphia's other notable sandwich is roast pork which can be found at Dinic's in the Reading Terminal Market, Tony Luke's, John's, or a latin version at Porky's Point. Lastly, the city's best Roast Beef sandwich served on a locally baked sarcone's roll is at caffe chicco.
A caveat before ordering a cheesesteak, particularly at the often crowded Pat's and Geno's—know how to order. There is somewhat of a 'no soup for you' attitude at these busy and fast-service oriented establishments which can really make a tourist stand out. The way to order is as follows: It is assumed that you are going to order a cheesesteak, so unless you are not, don't specify this. First, say the type of cheese—only american, provolone, and whiz are generally available. Ask for swiss at your own risk. The only condiment that is not available in a jar outside the stand will be fried onions; with (or "wit" in Philly parlance) or without will specify your preference on the matter. So 'Whiz With, Provolone Without,' etc. Not too complicated, and a straightforward way to have a nice local moment on your travels.
Local and street food
You can also find cheesesteaks at Reading Terminal Market, located at 12th and Arch Sts. Here visitors will find many stands selling produce, meats, flowers, and baked goods. Reading Terminal Market is a good place to get lunch if you are in the area. The multitude of vendors and low prices provide plenty of options for a quick meal. It's also home to one of the city's best pretzels (Miller's).
Philadelphia's most famous snack is the salted soft pretzel, which, while shaped with the three holes like soft pretzels everywhere else, are distinctive in that they are flattened into a wide rectangle and are made in long chains in which the wide sides of the pretzels are attached. A person may typically buy two, three, or more attached pretzels at a convenience store or from a street vendor. The price is low, especially compared to national vendor brands sold in other cities and in malls. Unlike pretzels served in many other cities, Philly pretzels are not served hot, but at room temperature and often eaten with mustard.
The most famous sweet snack is from the Tastykake brand. Their main factory is in the Navy Yard in far south Philly, so every flavor and type of TastyKake is sold in Philadelphia, and they are usually extra fresh, since they do not have to travel far to the retail outlet.
Also unique to the area are Goldenberg's Peanut Chews , a bit-sized chocolate bar with a chewy peanut center. Originally developed as a high-energy ration bar during WWI, but still popular today!
Scrapple is a favorite comfort food of native Philadelphians. Best described as a spicy breakfast pork product, scrapple is of Pennsylvania Dutch origin and is made from pork by-products (you're better off not knowing exactly what's in it) and cornmeal, cooked into a thick pudding, formed into a loaf, sliced, and fried. You'll find it on the breakfast menu of many neighborhood diners in Philly. Ask for it very crispy.
Some other Philly foods include Philadelphia Cream Cheese, water ice, and hoagies.
Located in the far Northeast of Philadelphia at Byberry and Roosevelt Blvd. is the Kraft/Nabisco factory. Drive by with your windows down and take a whiff!
Wawa is a chain of local convenience stores similar to, but better than, 7-Eleven. They are most famous for their deli ordering terminals, which allow you to specify via a touch-screen monitor exactly what you want on a sandwich. Although locals refuse to consider Wawa's cheesesteaks as authentic, due to its use of ground beef rather than sliced or diced beef, the Wawa option is still delicious and you get to customize it with a wide range of options.
Philadelphia has an extremely vibrant culinary scene, with many young and enterprising new chefs coming to the City of Brotherly Love for its food-obsessed culture. Local restauranteurs such as Stephen Starr , Marc Vetri , Iron Chefs Masaharu Morimoto  and Jose Garces , and others have become household names and food celebrities in their own right, transforming Philadelphia's food scene and exporting its concepts to other parts of the country. In part, the scene is bolstered by a culture of organic and sustainable foodstuffs coming from local farmers.
Pennsylvania's draconian liquor laws make it very expensive and inconvenient for restaurants to obtain liquor licenses. As a result, many restaurants—including some of the best—are BYOB, that is, Bring Your Own Bottle. These restaurants will advertise their BYOB-status, and will usually help you out by supplying glasses or club soda, so long as you supply the beer, wine, or spirits. You'll have to pick it up at a convenience store, a state-sponsored liquor store, or pick it up from a neighborhood bar. Even if you don't drink, or don't want a drink, dining a BYOB can pay off as the restaurant doesn't need to pay off a license and can charge a little less for the food.
Because of the state's complicated liquor laws, supermarkets won't sell beer or spirits, although some small neighborhood convenience stores might. State-sponsored liquor stores are all over the place but don't sell beer, and beer distributors sell beer only in bulk and are scattered in inconvenient locations, and neither will be open late or on Sundays. Thus, even for locals, the most convenient way to get a drink is to find a local bar or restaurant with a liquor license. In part because of this complicated setup, Philadelphia has a visibly strong, public beer culture, celebrated in events such as the annual summertime Philly Beer Week  or the Philly Craft Beer Festival  in March.
Local beers include Yeungling, Yard's, or Troegs, just to name a few. Many bars will have a varied selection of beers you already know and love alongside ones you've never heard of. If you're ever stuck on a choice but don't want to look out of place, just ask for a "lager", which in Philly specifically means the Yeungling Traditional Lager.
Primarily, most of the nightlife scene takes place in Center City (West and East) and in Old City. The areas around Rittenhouse Square in Center City, and Headhouse Square and Penn's Landing in Old City, are popular destinations that have a large concentration of bars and clubs, many of them attracting the hip, young, pretty people of the suburbs or the universities. Slightly further out, the rapidly-gentrifying Northern Liberties district is another solid nightlife destination with more of a "yuppie" or "hipster" vibe.
However, bars can be found in just about every corner of Philadelphia, and nothing is more characteristic of Philly than the local bar as a default place for social gathering; every neighborhood's got one or two just around the corner, even if it's a dark, run-down dive without proper signage and a crowd of blue-collar regulars, or a new-but-looks-old pub attracting the yuppies with outdoor seating and live music. Any major street or well-known district is going to have its own selection of watering holes, and each of these establishments will cater to a crowd, whether it's students, sports fans, hipsters or clubbers. In particular, streets and neighborhoods with a notable collection of drinking locales, not including Center City, Old City or Northern Liberties, include University City and West Philly; South Street and Passyunk Ave in South Philly; and the Art Museum District.
In the summer, the Center City District sponsors Center City Sips , a downtown-wide Happy Hour every Wednesday from 5PM-7PM where many bars and restaurants all participate in drink specials: $2 beers, $3 wines and $4 cocktails, and usually some selection of food specials.
It's been said that Philadelphia invented, or at least popularized, the popular pub trivia event that is known here as Quizzo , which are called by other various names such as "quiz nights" by the time they expanded to other parts of the United States. Philadelphia native Patrick Hines first began running Quizzo games at the New Deck Tavern in University City in 1993 (though he spelled it with one 'z', as in "Quizo"), and began a second one at Fergie's Pub in Center City in 1995; there are now plenty of other bars running their own Quizzo nights throughout Philadelphia, and while Hines has moved to Ireland, he still writes the questions for several local bars. If you're able to find yourself in a game (you'll have to have a team and needlessly long and/or hilarious team name, or see if you can join one as a free agent) it's a fun way to spend a night, but be prepared to be completely left in the dust by trivia buffs who play regularly.
Philadelphia is home to a limited number of hostels (compared to major US and international cities). Currently, two are located within the city limits:
There is a wide variety of hotels located in the city of Philadelphia. Hotels usually range from $100 to $200 a night, excluding weeks with major trade conventions. Center City is home to a wide variety of moderate and high end hotel chains that can be found in five main areas:
Philadelphia is thoroughly covered by all of the major American cellular telephone companies. AT&T Wireless, Verizon Wireless, Sprint-Nextel Wireless, and T-Mobile Communications phones will all receive full service in most parts of the city. As always, service indoors varies according to signal strength, phone brand, and the composition of the building itself. AT&T has contracted with SEPTA to provide wireless service in transit tunnels.
Wireless Philadelphia, a project that intended to cover the entire city with wireless internet access, is undergoing some management troubles. While the entire city is not yet covered, Rittenhouse Park, as well as many Starbucks and the ING Cafe at 17th and Walnut Sts., are hot spots. Reading Terminal Market also has free wifi.
For someone who isn't familiar with either the Mid-Atlantic / Northeast or even just Philadelphia, local lingo in the area can seem rather daunting. Here is a breakdown of Philadelphia's most popular local terms:
While Philadelphia may be a city that struggles with crime, it's important to remember that the places visitors are likely to spend time in are quite safe and well policed.
Center City and its immediate surrounding neighborhoods in particular have very low crime rates. Wealthier neighborhoods, like Rittenhouse Square, Old City and Society Hill, are especially safe, as are most central districts, including the majority of Northeast Philadelphia, the Art Museum Area, Chinatown, the Parkway, and Bella Vista. Some personal crimes (break-ins, muggings, burglary, assault) happen not infrequently, but the media largely exaggerates the violence and crime in most parts of Philadelphia.
Other parts of the city still struggle with crime, but compared to other tourist-friendly cities like Chicago, Washington D.C, and New Orleans, Philadelphia indeed has a lower crime rate. Violence is generally concentrated in the north central, west, and southwest portions of the city, and also to some extent in Powelton Village between Drexel University and the Philadelphia Zoo (though the latter location has seen some improvements). It is not wise to walk too far off Broad St. (PA Route 611) in North Philly around the Temple University area.
Fortunately, as of December 2009 the homicide rate had dropped 20% over the previous year, continuing a trend of reduced violence in the city.
Also, be careful of traffic when crossing at major intersections—in Philadelphia, as in many major cities, one must always walk, cross streets, and drive defensively. The winding Schuylkill expressway provides some beautiful views, particularly around Boathouse Row, but do not try to enjoy them from your car—with the high speeds, the river on one side, and jagged rocks on the other, this is a sure way to cause an accident.
Although it is blown out of proportion at times, Philadelphia sports fans have earned a reputation as a very passionate and notorious bunch. It is advised to be extra vigilant when attending a major sports match at the Sports Complex, particularly those who have the courage to wear the opposing team's gear in hostile territory. For these fans, it is best not to provoke the Philadelphia faithful and take their jabs in stride, as fans have been assaulted and even seriously injured in fights in and around the Sports Complex and around town and ejected from the sports venue at the very least, though these events of course are not limited to Philadelphia.