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Access Philadelphia 7e
Permit Philadelphians a moment of expansiveness. After years of hearing their city distinguished mainly by the Liberty Bell and by its cheesesteaks, brick streets, and rabid sports fans, civic pride is on the upswing as a result of a massive dose of revitalization that includes the dramatically asymmetrical Cira Centre, the first addition to the city's skyline in 15 years; multiple high-rise projects, including the 57-story Comcast Center, the city's tallest building, which will be completed in 2007; two planned casinos; and a flurry of condominium projects that dot the city landscape with cranes and scaffolding. Meanwhile, City Hall, a stately granite and white-marble monolith finished at the turn of the 19th century, has seen its 584-foot-tall tower emerge from a face-lift that had kept it under scaffolding for years. And 30th Street Station, a beautiful early 20th-century train station, has been restored to its Depression-era grandeur, made all the more striking by the Cira Centre's glass presence next door. On another front, the city's newly upgraded cruise terminal is attracting a growing number of passengers to Philadelphia's port, with a record 36 sailings and 131,000 visitors by sea in 2006, with cruise destinations that include Bermuda and the Caribbean. Tour operators who once considered Philadelphia a day-trip destination—catch the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross House, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Independence Hall and get out before sundown—now urge visitors to spend a few leisurely days getting to know the city.
William Penn designed Philadelphia with thepedestrian in mind, and walking is still the best way to see this spirited metropolis. The town is laid out in quadrants, with City Hall at the center. Each of the four areas is arranged around a public square: the newly restored Franklin Square near Independence National Historical Park; Washington Square near Society Hill; Rittenhouse Square, west of Broad Street; and Logan Circle, with the stunning Swann Fountain, at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Wander a few blocks from any of these tranquil greenswards to delve into Philadelphia's history. The past isn't confined to museums here, nor is it necessarily marked on your historic-sites map. You'll see it in the horse-and-buggy-size alleys; the Old City and Northern Liberties factories converted to restaurants and condos; the regal row houses flanking Rittenhouse Square, and at funky, down-home Reading Terminal Market, where you can stock up on Lancaster County produce, Amish baked goods, and Italian gourmet sauces.
Philadelphia also has a strong cultural scene, reflected in classic museums such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. For the past several years, the city has been developing an "Avenue of the Arts" corridor of buildings devoted to the performing arts near the Academy of Music on S. Broad Street, crowned in December 2001 with the dramatic $265 million Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, home to the world-class Philadelphia Orchestra. The renaissance that began in the late 1970s continues to produce new coffeehouses, bookstores, and restaurants. Despite a spate of new steak houses, Philadelphia has shed its meat-and-potatoes tendencies, owing in part to the ethnic groups that have settled here. Chinatown boasts a number of authentic (and inexpensive) Vietnamese, Thai, and Malaysian restaurants as well as vegetarian diners and noodle shops. And if you search beyond the well-publicized trattorie of South Philadelphia, you'll find many menus that transcend the traditional spaghetti and meatballs.
Past the area that locals call Center City is Fairmount Park, a cool stretch of green popular for its bike and nature trails; the satellite neighborhoods of University City, trendy Manayunk, and ultraposh Chestnut Hill, home to the country's first cricket club; the Main Line community of Merion, which, until its court-approved move to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the next few years, boasts the world-famous Barnes Foundation art gallery; and, even farther away in New Jersey, the gaming halls of Atlantic City. Kelly Drive snakes along the Schuylkill River, offering ringside seats for rowing competitions as well as urban skyline vistas, whereas a host of nightclubs along the Delaware River has inspired more than a few waterside pub crawls.
Many of these recent attractions, particularly waterfront bars and dance halls, wouldn't have had a prayer in what was a somewhat stodgy town in the mid-1970s. For decades, Philadelphia lived in the shadow of Manhattan, just 90 miles to the north, and omnipresent history—such as Christ Church, where brass plaques mark the pews once occupied by George Washington and Benjamin Franklin—represented the city's only draw. A reverse trend is in progress, however, with New Yorkers (among others) discovering a place that's quieter, cleaner, less frantic . . . and full of possibility. And though the City of Brotherly Love may still feel awkward in its urbane role, no one will fault Philadelphians for a little self-congratulation—the city has been modest for too long.Access Philadelphia 7e. Copyright � by Jack Access Press. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. <%END%>