Philadelphia’s been getting a lot of press about becoming America’s “next great city.” And though I’m pleased to see my city getting the recognition it deserves, I need to set the record straight. As any proud local will tell you—and we are all proud—Philly has always been a great city, and it keeps getting better all the time.Philadelphians have an innate and unshakeable hometown pride, and we couldn’t be happier that millions of visitors are flocking to see for themselves what we’ve known all along.As you’re exploring the streets of Philadelphia (some paved and some still cobblestone) in the footsteps of Benjamin Franklin, history is always present. Though Center City has blossomed into a world-class downtown, new skyscrapers, restaurants, theaters, and galleries still mingle with the well-preserved homes and churches of the founding fathers.
While visiting the Liberty Bell and jogging up the famed Art Museum steps à la Rocky, be sure to indulge in the activities that locals enjoy. Relax in Rittenhouse Square. Grab lunch in Reading Terminal Market. Stroll along the Schuylkill River Trail. See a play on the Avenue of the Arts. In the colorful neighborhoods beyond Center City, you’ll discover family-run greasy spoons where you’ll be called “Hon,” charming BYOBs, and dive bars where Quizzo and karaoke rival the 76ers, Eagles, Phillies, and Flyers as serious competitive sports.
Philadelphians have an innate and unshakeable hometown pride, and we couldn’t be happier that millions of visitors are flocking to see for themselves what we’ve known all along. But let’s be clear: Philadelphia will never become “the next” Boston, San Francisco, or New York. There is no city in the world quite like Philly—and that’s just the way we like it.
A nasty rumor has somehow spread that Philadelphians are unfriendly, boorish, and sometimes even downright mean, and I’d like to set the record straight. Many locals are a little rough around the edges, but that is part of the local charm; this is a traditional blue-collar town after all. But unless you insult our sports teams, loudly root for another team in front of us, or play for one of our sports teams and blow the season, you shouldn’t be the target of any more rude behavior than you would in any other East Coast city.
Granted, we can be loud, and maybe a little impatient—especially if you’re holding up traffic while staring at a map—but beneath the tough exterior, Philadelphians are, by and large, warm, helpful, and down-to-earth people. We like to think we’re just more honest here. At least you’ll always know where you stand. If people are being nice to you, they probably really like you, and if not, they’re just not in the mood, so move on to ask someone else for directions.
And just to be safe, anything negative you have to say about Philly should be said in private. While locals insult the city (and the sports teams) quite freely, visitors rarely earn the right. Oh, and one last thing—you might want to learn how to order a cheesesteak at the fast-lane cheesesteak joints so you don’t hold up the line.
Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Philadelphia.