Philadelphia is a city that would make me stray from my part-time lover, New York City. There was something about the people, the public artwork, the history, and the energy that made me feel right at home.
I first visited the 5th largest city in the United States as a prospective student for a graduate school. As soon as I got off the bus, I was intrigued. One, the buildings weren’t overwhelming in size as they were in New York City. Two, a quick ride around the city told me that public artwork was huge there.
According to one city bus tour guide, Philadelphia requires that all office buildings dedicate a percentage of their space to public art. The reason for the beautiful murals adorning the walls is simple: crime alternatives. In previous years, youth caught tagging buildings were given a choice of entering an art program and creating murals or paying a fine, serving time, etc. By the looks of Philadelphia, it’s easy to see what people decided to do.
I stayed at the lovely and conveniently located Alexander Inn. When not on the grad school campus, I was in easy walking distance of the historic Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. It’s funny to see national park rangers in full, forest green uniform in the middle of urban locales, but that area is considered a national park.
Before leaving the city, I highly suggest going to the National Constitution Center. Mere steps from the Liberty Bell, the exhibit I saw there about Prohibition was the best historical exhibit I had ever seen. As a teacher, I always look to see how kid and adult-friendly exhibits are. This one had me mesmerized at the museum educator and curator’s talents.
When my bus pulled out of Philadelphia, I vowed to return for an extended vacation. The place is too steeped in history not to. Where else could I see people protesting potential US Postal Service cuts at no other than one of the first post offices in the nation? Warm people, art, and history. That’s all I need to return again and again.