Philadelphia County Pennsylvania
As the birthplace of our country in 1776, American identity was carved in Philadelphia. Today, more than two centuries later, Philadelphia has used this identity to grow into an innovative and progressive city — one that overflows with opportunity, culture and character.
Philadelphia County and Philadelphia City are often used interchangeably. That is because the city of Philadelphia represents the only municipality in Philadelphia County. As the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia combines the excitement of a major cosmopolitan area with the warmth of a friendly small town.
Philadelphia is a city of small but vibrant communities that come together to create a diverse and lively metropolis. It is these neighborhoods that create Philadelphia's homey feel, and serve as good reference points for demonstrating all that the city has to offer.
Locals refer to downtown Philadelphia as Center City. The east and west boundaries of Center City are Philadelphia's two rivers, the Schuylkill to the west and the Delaware to the east. Two main streets, Market and Broad, bisect Center City. These streets meet at the historic Philadelphia City Hall, the world's largest masonry structure. Market Street is the main east-west artery downtown while Broad Street is the main north-south artery. Center City is the city's main business, shopping and entertainment district, and also contains high-end housing, including historic row homes and posh high-rise condominiums.
Washington Square, a neighborhood surrounding the historic park of the same name, boasts numerous tree-lined streets filled with 19th-century townhouses. Closer to the Delaware waterfront at Penn's Landing, you will encounter the neighborhoods of Old City and Society Hill, where the 2008 median home price was $350,000. Old City mixes history and modern flare, with historic landmarks and old homes nestled among contemporary residences, chic bars and restaurants. Old City is one of the most popular hotspots for nightlife. And if you want a taste of the city's happening art scene, check out Old City's First Fridays (the first Friday of each month), where art galleries and shops stay open late for exhibits and events. Just south of Old City is Society Hill, an upscale, tranquil neighborhood with cobblestone streets and sidewalks that lead up to quaint row houses. The sight of horse-drawn carriages, which take tours through the lovely neighborhood, adds to Society Hill's aesthetic charm.
Just beyond Society Hill and south of Washington Square are the increasingly popular communities of Queen Village and Bella Vista. Numerous homes in Queen Village have been recently renovated and the area is quickly becoming a prime destination for young Philadelphians. Only a few blocks away, Bella Vista features a contemporary atmosphere that appeals to many first-time buyers. Charming restaurants and cafes within walking distance add to the friendly atmosphere while the Italian Market, located at the heart of Bella Vista, provides a smooth transition into the neighborhoods of South Philly. With many generations of Italian-American residents, South Philadelphia is known for its close-knit neighborhoods and impeccably maintained homes, and is also becoming the residence of choice to an increasing number of young, working professionals who enjoy the short commute into town. South Philly also serves as home to the stadiums of the city's four major sports franchises: the Eagles (NFL), Flyers (NHL), Phillies (MLB) and Sixers (NBA).
In the southwest corner of Center City you'll find, Rittenhouse Square, a prestigious neighborhood decorated with shops, restaurants and outdoor cafes. The immaculately manicured Rittenhouse Square Park is an extremely popular gathering place, where you're bound to find dog walkers, sunbathers, musicians and book readers enjoying the fresh air. Homes in the area had a median price of $438,700 in 2008.
Traveling west of Rittenhouse Square, across the Schuylkill River, you will find both students and families residing in University City. The home to the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and University of the Sciences, this section of Philadelphia has recently witnessed tremendous revitalization. Known for its historic Victorian homes, University City is considered by some to be Philadelphia's version of Harvard Square.
Along Arch and Race streets, just north of Market Street, is the lively Chinatown community. Steeped in Chinese culture, this area is also well represented by Malaysian, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai ethnicities. The Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia is located northeast of Chinatown and is a popular place to live for local artists. Northern Liberties' vibrant nightlife and eclectic restaurants add a bohemian flare to the city.
The Art Museum Area in the Fairmount section of the city provides a quiet residential environment for Philadelphians, even though it is still within walking distance of Center City. From the northwestern side of Broad Street, take the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (designed to resemble the Champs-Elysees in Paris) into Fairmount. Homes in Fairmount had a median price of $331,500 in 2008 and are conveniently located near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Kelly Drive and Boathouse Row, where you'll often find people jogging, biking, rollerblading, or relaxing with a picnic.
Just a 15-minute drive from downtown along I-76 (Schuylkill Expressway), Manayunk proves to be a very popular destination for young Philadelphia residents and families. The winding Kelly Drive provides an alternative and more scenic route from Manayunk to downtown. Manayunk's Main Street is bustling with upscale shops, restaurants and bars that keep the area alive well after dark. Many of the homes throughout the neighborhood remain reasonably priced (2008 median home price was $245,000) and residents include newcomers and long-time dwellers. The neighborhood of Roxborough, just past Manayunk, offers an even more residential environment. Roxborough is known to be a tight-knit community that offers sensible housing opportunities (median price $234,722).
About 20 minutes from Center City in the northwestern part of the county, is the historic Chestnut Hill section. Cobblestone streets and large beautiful trees shape this suburban community. Along Germantown Avenue — Chestnut Hill's "main street" — you'll uncover a variety of antique stores, galleries and contemporary hotspots. Nearby, scenic Mt. Airy borders Chestnut Hill. Mt. Airy offers a wide range of housing options, from reasonable apartments to grand mansions. The median price of a home in 2008 was $225,000. And the term "community" surely rings true in Mt. Airy — it has gained national distinction for its harmonious and diverse population. The Sedgwick Cultural Center for performing arts embodies the diversity in Mt. Airy by embracing all cultures. A wide variety of public transportation makes Center City readily accessible for Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy residents.
The expansive Northeast Philadelphia section of the city rests on the other side of Philadelphia. Some sections of the Northeast are as close as 20 minutes from Center City, while other sections can be as far as 45 minutes away. The Northeast is primarily residential, but its commercial side also shines through in numerous shopping centers and strip malls. Communities like Fox Chase, Rawnhurst and Bustleton (in the far Northeast) are popular because of their connection to Center City via public transportation.
Philadelphia embodies a network of neighborhoods whose people and landscapes vary both within and between the localities. Variety also extends into the regions' schooling options. The large collection of private, parochial and charter schools in Philadelphia give residents numerous choices when considering educational options.
No matter which neighborhood you decide to call home, make sure you take time to experience what makes Philadelphia such an enjoyable place to live. In the center of town you'll find the glittering "Avenue of the Arts," Philadelphia's most distinguished entertainment sector. This stretch of Broad Street offers more than 20 performing arts venues in which to indulge your passions for opera, ballet, jazz, theater and music. Along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, also called "Museum Row," you'll come across a multitude of museums whose exhibits offer something for everyone in the family.
Clearly, there's no shortage of culture in this town — the Philadelphia Museum of Art contains one of the largest collections of art in America. And you certainly can't ignore the history that echoes within the city where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written. Independence National Historic Park exults in this history with the Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center and a Visitor's Center. All of these places showcase the legacies of Philadelphia and the nation with unique and exciting presentations. After catching the sights, you may want to stop for a bite to eat at one of the fine dining establishments that grace the streets of Philadelphia. Outdoor cafes, small bistros and exquisite restaurants make dining in Philadelphia an experience in its own right. And don't forget the city's staples: cheese steaks, hoagies, soft pretzels, water ice and Tastykake treats!
Philadelphia's economic future is very promising with numerous development projects in the works or recently completed. The Comcast Corporation opened its new headquarters in Center City in the fall of 2007. The Comcast Center changed the city skyline by eclipsing One Liberty Place as the tallest building in Philadelphia. The Cira Centre, a 28-floor state-of-the-art office and conference center, opened in University City in 2005. It is in an exceptional location for business enterprise and mobility since it is connected directly to Amtrak's 30th Street Station and is in close proximity to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. Additionally, proposals to redevelop Penn's Landing, a 13-acre waterfront park on the Delaware River, are also being considered. Most notably, two casinos may open in the city in the near future.
There's just so much to see and do in Philadelphia — from the parks to the museums to the skyscrapers, from Manayunk to South Philly — it is a metropolis that is certain to satisfy all. Once you come, you will never want to leave!
Make sure to visit gophila.com for more information on all of the great things to do in Philadelphia.