Philadelphia is an ancient city in the east of the United States. It is located between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. In this city, people made history that influenced the vector of the country's development. Creative people from all over the world used to come here and bring their culture. That's how Philadelphia became an incredible mixture of history and art of various nationalities. It can be seen in the external architectural character of the city where glass skyscrapers stand side by side with bricked Colonial buildings.
Districts of Philadelphia
Philadelphia is divided into twelve districts. Center City, West Philadelphia, and South Philadelphia are the most interesting for tourists.
- Center City is the central business district of the city with a high concentration of historical attractions. Here you can find the Liberty Bell, a City Hall, various museums, parks, shops, and restaurants. That's where all the business actions happen.
- West Philadelphia is a students' neighborhood in the town where the prestigious University of Pennsylvania and Drexel are located. You can visit their campuses on any day.
- South Philadelphia is the most vibrant part of Philadelphia, where lots of Mexican, Italian, and Cambodian immigrants live. This region is renowned for lots of restaurants that can satisfy any taste and wallet.
The other neighborhoods are mainly residential and don't have much value for tourists. There are, perhaps, only several locations. For example, the main museum of the city — the Philadelphia Museum of Art — which is located south of the center, in Lower North Philadelphia.
A rich history left its marks on the architectural face of the city where democratic America was born. Tourists shall see here plenty of buildings built in the Colonial style. Art lovers will be impressed by the museums with unique displays. In this city, you can also enjoy marvelous parks or pass away time in numerous bars and restaurants. You can visit a new place every night for several months and still don't cover the abundance of sites.
The majority of people living in the city are Afro-Americans (43%). The white community compiles 42%. The Asians conclude 7%, and the remaining 8% are the representatives of other nationalities. Among them, there are 68% of the Christian (including 41% of the Protestants); 24% of the population is religiously unaffiliated. The remaining 8% are Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus.
The median age of the citizens of Philadelphia is 34 years. Even though there is a university in the city that is included in the Ivy League, only 27% of the adult population have higher education.
Quaker William Penn (one of the father-founders of the USA) received a piece of land west of the Delaware River from Charles II of England in 1681. He founded a settlement called Pennsylvania there (from the Latin "Penn Sylvania" — "Penn's Woods"). He also built the city of Philadelphia ("The City of Brotherly Love"). Due to his religion, Penn knew what baiting was and created a town where every person could feel safe. He established excellent relations with the Indian tribes and turned Philadelphia into the most important city in America.
By 1750, Philadelphia had become a large trading center. The local public character Benjamin Franklin helped to improve the city's services, build a fire station, library, hospital, and founded several philosophic communities. At that time, Philadelphia was the biggest city in British America and the second in size (after London) in the British Empire. That's the place where the most important document in the history of the United States was signed in 1776 — the Declaration of Independence. For ten years (1790-1800), Philadelphia was the capital of the country. )
The city was an important industrial center in the XIX - at the beginning of the XX century. At the same time, the Irish and German immigrants headed to Philadelphia. The boundaries of the town enlarged by seventy times (from 5,2 km2 to 350 km2). The second wave of immigrants included the Afro-Americans from the southern states, natives of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Italy. In the middle of the previous century, a reconstruction of manufacture happened that led to job losses. The suburbanization also attracted the attention of the wealthy citizens to the remote outer towns.
As a result, the city went through a longstanding period of transformations, almost became bankrupt, and started to develop rapidly again.
Before the trip, you should calculate the approximate budget that you will require for the travel:
The best time to visit Philadelphia
A procession dedicated to St. Patrick's Day is held in March. This is the second-oldest parades in the United States. A large Irish expatriate community lives in Philadelphia. Its members celebrate their main holiday on a grand scale.
A festival called "Witches and Wizards Weekend" takes place in Chestnut Hill district every October. It's a paradise for all fans of sorcery and magic. It transformed from a holiday devoted to Harry Potter. There is a themed pub operating for adults here, and there are plenty of contests for children. The crux of the biscuit of Witches and Wizards Weekend is a quidditch tournament based on the sage about the young wizard.
We highly recommend you to purchase the Septa Key Card for moving around the city. You load it depending on the frequency of rides (weekly, monthly, and single-day rates). There is also a special function for traveling — you can use Septa Key Card to pay for goods in kiosks and online. Thus, you can buy the Independence Pass with an unlimited number of rides. It's profitable to purchase it in case you are traveling with a family — five people can use one card with a family rate. You can learn the detailed information about prices, location to purchase a card, and ways of loading the pass on the guest website of Philadelphia.
You have you remember a couple of tricks if you don't want to pay a full price to some museums. For example, on the first Sunday of the month and Wednesday nights (from 5 PM to 9.45 PM), you can pay any sum of money (as desired) for entering the Philadelphia Art Museum. You can enter the Rodin Museum with the same ticket as it is a part of the Art Museum. In Barnes Foundation, every first Sunday of the month is free. Before visiting any museum, you'd better double-check if there is an open house or discounts.
Before visiting Philadelphia, you can download maps of the historical and central districts of the city on the guest website. Besides, there are detailed schedules and schemes of public transport available.
Independence Visitor Center works daily for tourists. Its workers will tell you all the necessary information about the city and share the essential booklets. Here, you can also purchase tickets to attractions and various tours.
What should a tourist do in Philadelphia?
- Run down the "Rocky Steps" in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, listening to the track "Gonna Fly Now" by Bill Conti. That's the location where the legendary scene with the training of the renowned boxer was filmed. To commemorate this, a monument to Rocky rising his hands was placed on top of the steps.
- After you run up the "Rocky Steps", you can dive into the atmosphere of art in the main museum in the city — the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It has a collection of works by Bosch, Rubens, van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Chagall, and other masters. In addition to the permanent exhibitions, the museum has themed temporary displays. Not far from the main building, you shall find the Rodin Museum. It is the second-largest collection of Rodin's sculptures.
- Check out the original paintings by Renoir and Cézanne in the Barnes Foundation art museum. The display is formed from the private collection and is divided into halls devoted to different epochs, techniques, and styles.
- Try donuts and fried chicken in the network of Federal Donuts that you can find only in Philadelphia. They cook this dessert here with the most extraordinary flavors — strawberries with lavender, blood orange, coffee with maple syrup, sweet potatoes, apple crumble, and even Mississippi mud pie. They also do not serve fried chicken with some common spices. They use the exotic eastern spice called za'atar, coconut curry, ranch dressing, garlic chili, sweet garlic-soy, or ginger-honey sauces.
- Visit the campus of UPenn (University of Pennsylvania), where Donald Trump studied. The university is included in the prestigious Ivy League and equals Yale and Princeton in beauty.
- Enjoy a view of Philadelphia from the roof of Cira Center South. Building. You should get to the 11th floor of the parking lot and follow the signs. The roof is fully planted with greenery and is the first high-level park in the city.
- Touch the symbol of American democracy – the Liberty Bell. Its ring was the signal announcing the subscription of the Declaration of Independence. Nowadays, due to a big crack, the bell doesn't ring anymore. However, this crack adds some extra charm to this iconic object.
- Check out the historical building of Philadelphia City Hall. Within seven years, it had been the tallest building not only in Philadelphia but in the whole world. The City Hall is constructed in the style of the Second Empire. On top of its tower, you can see the statue of William Penn. Therefore, there used to be an unspoken law in the state of Pennsylvania — not to build anything higher than Penn's hat. During winter holidays, the backyard and territory around City Hall turn into a Christmas fair. It's fascinating how they decorate the top of the Christmas tree here. They use a miniature copy of the Liberty Bell instead of stars.
- Explore the unique Magic Gardens quarter that is decorated with mosaics made of glass and ceramics. One painter created all of these with a desire to dignify and improve the criminal neighborhood and protect it from the demolition.
- Taste the legendary Philadelphian sandwich called a "cheesesteak". It's a crispy bun with stuffing made from cheese and shaved beef. The legendary Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks are the best locations to try it. These two cafes are situated in front of each other. After eating a cheesesteak, you should enjoy a cup of coffee in the Philadelphian network of cafes called "La Colombe". The largest establishment is in the Fishtown district. It is an unremarkable bricked building. However, when you enter it, you get into an enormous space with a stove, a stand for pastry, kitchen, and laboratory where they study and invent new sorts of coffee (that's how they developed the local Fishtown sort).