Philadelphia is a Greek word meaning “City of Brotherly Love” and it has truly lived up to its name. This is one of the most ethnically mixed cities in the US with significant populations of Italians, Asians, Irish, Eastern Europeans and the large African-American history and culture all blending within the same neighborhood. A walk on the intertwining streets and alleyways of this majestic city opens one’s eyes to the rich mix of culture and ancient history of this nation.
Founded in 1682 by William Penn Jr, Philadelphia was the original capital of the nation. It was also built in the grid system pattern that was to become the foundation for all American cities. As history has it, the city grew in the early 1750s to become the second largest city in the British Empire. This economic power led to revolutionary feelings that boiled down to the war for independence. Philadelphia thus became the capital where the Declaration of Independence was written, signed and first read out publicly. Additionally, Philadelphia was the hotspot for new ideas in sciences and arts epitomized by Benjamin Franklin – a scientist, inventor, statesman, philosopher and printer.
Today, Philadelphia is a simple walking city with thick layers of historical mysteries and attractions coupled with various delicacies. The first thing visitors realize on arrival at this city is that most places are just within a mile from the City Hall that is often the starting point for all walking tours. Take a stroll along beautiful tree-lined streets displaying a variety of magnificent architectural masterpieces ranging from Colonial to Victorian to Bauhaus. All the architectural work that leads one through a transition in time can sometimes be found within the same block.
The streets further connect to other smaller and smaller streets and pathways hiding small groups of red-brick colonial houses, pleasant gardens and footnotes to the splendid American history. Follow these streets to the neighborhood of Independence Hall in the Society Hill in order to understand more about the US. The Independence Hall is where the Liberty Bell first rang paving way for the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
While here, you can sit under a tree in the garden to write and mail a letter home from the first Postmaster General’s (Benjamin Franklin’s) Post Office. Better still, you can tour the Independence National Park, enjoy a cocktail in an intimate bar, then go out for a play or concert or movie and later enjoy dinner just a block away before going out again to hear live music just within a few blocks.
Heading out north of Market Street you will find Old City, which is more like New York’s Soho. The city is lined with wonderful restaurants like Cuba Libre and Chloe, a number of theaters like Painted Bride and small but elegant art galleries like Gallery Joe for all art fans. This is a city with a fashionable tender hip scene in all shades and colors.
Going east from Old City while still along the renowned Delaware River, there lies Penn’s Landing, a backdrop for all outdoor festivities and free summer concerts, lit up by fireworks on various holidays. Ferries are also available for those who wish to cross the Delaware River to have a glimpse of the aquarium on the other side. However, the open-air clubs lying on the northern side of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge are the hotspots for summer’s breathtaking nightlife view.
For the tastiest cuisines in town, look for the streets leading to Chinatown. The town lies West of Old City somewhere between 8th and 13th streets and it is the hub of all manner of cuisines. Nowadays, Chinatown is bursting with flavors and aromas from Chinese restaurants and a combination of Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Pan-Asian and Burmese eating joints. The Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Reading Terminal Market are also found within Chinatown.
In short, Philadelphia is a city that has it all. From the history to the beautiful garden-lined streets to the exceptional cuisines, there is always something for everyone in this city of brotherly love. A tour towards the west, south and north of Philadelphia also welcomes one to more mysteries and unrivaled attractions of all kinds.