By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)
Last month, I had the honor and pleasure to represent PRSA Chicago as a delegate at the 2013 Public Relations Society of America Leadership Assembly in Philadelphia. My overview of the Assembly was chronicled in this post published October 28. That was the “business” component of my three-day visit to one of the most historic cities in America.
What follows is an account of the “pleasure” side of the trip, in words and pictures. Had I time for a longer visit, I might be able to cite more than “phive,” I mean “five,” aspects of the city that caught my attention. A reason, perhaps, to return to this very cool, undeniably American metropolis.
Spoiler alert: I did not have a cheese steak sandwich during my stay, but I did sample some awesome food. Here goes, in no particular order:
- Philadelphia is a “Real” City. Like my home town of Chicago, Philadelphia is a city built on a grid system with streets and alleys laid out in a manner that new visitors can get acclimated in a relatively short time. There’s a mixture of well-preserved old architecture and some stunning new structures. And, the terrain is relatively flat, making it a lot easier to traverse from river to river — from the Schuykill to the Delaware — when on foot. Plus, Philly has an impressive public transportation system, which served me well as my ride to and from the airport was just $8 each way.
- Tranquility at Independence National Historic Park. This blocks-long park-like mall houses Independence Hall — where some pretty important documents relative to our nation were adopted — the Liberty Bell, and other cool preserved structures. My favorite: Carpenter’s Hall, which had tools displayed by 18th Century craftsmen. (Not a saws-all in sight. ) I visited on a flawless fall morning and found tranquility within the historic pathways and streets.
- The Awesomeness of City Hall. Yes, you’ve probably see that film from a few decades back where a fledgling boxer runs up the steps of this massive structure and jumps around. Dramatic on film, but you have to stroll around the grounds and through the arcade and courtyard to really appreciate this building — its masonry construction, its grandeur, its clock tower topped off by a statue of the man who founded the Pennsylvania colony. (I heard a guide tell a group of visitors you could drive an auto around William Penn’s hat. Now that would be a cool thrill ride.)
- A Real Chinatown. Bustling, noisy, gritty and packed with restaurants, the Philadelphia Chinatown offered two things I expect from a Chinatown: A glimpse into another world and culture, and some really great food at moderate prices. I was not disappointed, as I strolled along Race Street in search of a place for lunch. My selection, Wong Wong, met two criteria: Mostly Asian patrons and ducks hanging from the window. My lunch of won-ton soup and a seafood entree was massive, delicious and only $23.
- The Sophistication of Rittenhouse Square. My hotel, the Club Quarters on Chestnut Street, was in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. But I had to visit the actual square, one of the five original parks planned by William Penn. Mr. Penn knew what he was doing from a planning perspective because the park retains its charm and still serves as a bucolic escape from the city grid. I observed young parents with young kids enjoying the afternoon, as well as a group of costumed 20-somethings celebrating Halloween.
Want more? Here’s a short photo gallery. Then, it’s your turn: What do you like about Philadelphia?