City Spotlight: Philadelphia (Philly)

2 Jun

Philadelphia is a really cool place. Steeped in history, birthplace of the glorious Philly Cheesesteak and a lively, interesting city which I would have loved to spend more time exploring. As it was, I got a full day there (I was being driven to and from Philly by relatives so didn’t get the chance to do everything I wanted to, but enough to feel like I saw the city!) And as it’s only a couple of hours on the train from New York, so it’s a great day trip if you happen to be in NYC.

9 ^Before I get going, I do need to brag that I managed to find a basketball court in West Philadelphia (born and raised, in the playground is where I spent most of my days), so we fully completed the Fresh Prince part of our Philly experience. Boom.

EAT:
Cheesesteak. It’s what Philly’s all about. But finding a great Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia is harder than you’d think – after all, everywhere is going to sell them and claim to be the best. So, after glancing at Tripadvisor and then scouring numerous local and international blogs, I found what I thought must be the best cheesesteak in Philly. Sounds like a lot of effort, but as I may never visit Philly again, this is not something I could afford to fuck up.

And I totally didn’t. The cheesesteak I had was incredible. It’s located on South Street – an artsy, trendier part of Philly a 15 minute walk downtown from the historical sites and full of record stores, vintage shops with lots of converse hanging from the electric lines (we all know what that means). The place is called Jim’s South Street and for the love of god, GO.

1 So, I went for the Wiz Wit, which means ‘cheesesteak with wiz cheese and with onions’. Basically a cheesesteak is beef, onions, wiz cheese (the bright yellow american squeezy cheese) in a toasted hot dog roll. I also got them to add some peppers in there too to make me feel like it was healthy (hah). The juicy, delicious cheesesteak that was served up looked a little something like this:

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No additional words needed. Just LOOK at it. It’s absolutely worth a visit and if you’re in any doubt, once again, take a look at the photos above.

SEE: I have a couple of ‘sees’ from Philly – technically I saw lots of cool stuff while I was there but I’m trying to be selective because y’all know how much I can ramble on…

  • Philadelphia Magic Garden is hidden away in the southern central part of the city, about a 20 minute walk from the Liberty Bell. As you approach the Magic Garden you start to see a lot of street art and mosaic decoration all over the houses in the area… and then the magnificent Magic Garden appears.

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    “Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a mosaicked visionary art environment, gallery, and community arts center that preserves, interprets, and provides access to Isaiah Zagar’s unique mosaic art environment and his public murals.” The place is amazing. AMAZING. And it’s only the size of a small car park, but it’s full of bottles, bike wheels, colourful mosaic, ornaments and all sorts of found and random objects all smushed into walls and steps. AND LOOK HOW COLOURFUL IT IS!
    3 Honestly, it’s SO worth a visit. It was like walking into what I imagine the inside of my head looks like. It’s something a little different but a lot of fun to do in Philly (but make sure you still visit the Art Museum’s Rocky Statue of course, can’t miss out on that).

  • So, Philly has a lot of history going on. It’s the home of the Liberty Bell and the place where the Declaration of Independence was drafted up and signed. Yeah baby, the Brits got totally fuuucked in Philly.

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    As you can probably guess from the above photo, this is the Liberty Bell – as famous for being cracked as it is for representing liberty (possibly, probably not). Anyway, you can’t actually touch the Liberty Bell, but you can have lots of photos taken near it after passing through an exhibition about how the Liberty Bell came to be and what it represents (it has “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof,” inscribed on it, so that gives you a clue).

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    Next stop on the historical tour of Philly is the Assembly Room. It’s where the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were drafted up and signed. You can get a free tour of the building and see where George Washington debated with the English and where they formally announced to the public that America was declaring independence. The tour is a great way to get a quick intro to America’s history and well worth doing (make sure you get a timed ticket from the visitor’s centre!) I also ended up going to see where the Declaration is kept (The National Archives in Washing D.C) so I totally nailed the Us history thing.

    I’d definitely recommend doing the historical side of Philly, most of what I did was free and really interesting. Afterwards, go and eat a truly wonderful Philly Cheesesteak at Jim’s and then take a 10 minute walk to the Magic Gardens. Let me know if you end up going to anywhere I’ve recommended, I’d love to hear what you think!

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One Response to “City Spotlight: Philadelphia (Philly)”

  1. Alex Yong June 22, 2015 at 2:51 am #

    Thanks. I’ll look for Jim’s because I like cheesesteak

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