Not really. I've never been. Well, it's been long enough that it really doesn't count. Another trip up the northeast corridor! This time not by train though. Philly is close enough to drive – so is NYC but getting around in NYC is so crazy that it isn't worth it to drive. So we drove up for a day of sales training. Traffic getting out of DC was predictably horrible and continued that way until somewhat north of Baltimore. Some day we'll have leadership capable of re-prioritizing our spending so that we can fix some of these things. Also, if you don't have a Speedpass and you're going to drive up the coast, you need to go get one. I was a hold out until the first time I drove to Atlantic City. I really didn't appreciate how much the tolls where up there. I thought I might need to sell some body parts to make it back. At some level EZ-Pass bothers me – I'm driving around with someone else's RFID tag in my car – but unless I'm fleeing prosecution or something I guess it doesn't matter all that much. I could always throw it out the window I suppose….
Philly is a pretty big city with some relatively tall buildings. Philly, like Washington has had an agreement in place for a long time that no building would be taller than city hall but that was busted some years ago so it's starting to get "tall in the middle.
At somewhere around 2 million souls, it's about a fourth of the size of NYC and you can definitely feel that difference. Philly, unlike New York, can't afford that feeling of "no, we really don't care because we're better than you." that New York pulls off so eloquently. Granted, in NY it's part of a survival system built into every human when space and separation from other humans is removed. When you're shoved into a pot with 8 million other people, you have to keep some part of that core identity private or you'll lose your mind. that's why New Yorkers act the way they do and it is also why they open up and thrive when you take them out of same pressure cooker. Anywho….We stayed about 2 blocks from City Hall which is a giant building.
It's pretty neat that you can, at street level walk "through" city hall without entering the building. There are great archways that you can breeze through. The City has tried to create a public space in this very public place. Hard to tell if it's working as we were only there around 7pm on a hot day. Other kind of unique thing? Window air conditioner in many of the windows.
What else to do when you're in Philly? Well, 3 things. Cheesesteak, Liberty bell, Indpedence Hall. First, the cheese steak. We had a decision to make here. We could walk or cab it to the OG Cheesesteak Intersection of Pat's or Geno's or we could walk to the much closer Sonny's. It was already pretty late and we wanted to walk around Independence Hall before it was completely dark. That fact, compounded by the fact that the cabs in Philly look like they were stolen in some foreign land and shipped back conspired to send us to Sonny's however it was still a 1.3 mile walk. I managed to order my cheesesteak properly: "steak, whiz, with" and chowed it down. Sonny's uses steak slices that are just a shade thicker than I like on cheesesteak but still delicious. I know some of you purists out there will insist that I've fallen for a sub-par sandwhich but it's good stuff either way. A great Philly tradition.
After that, we humped the mile to Independence Hall:
It was pretty late and everything was, of course closed but it's still pretty cool to be around a place like this and think of all that happened there. The Declaration, the Constitution. I can't imagine what it was like to meet in that place, especially during the summer! Would have been trying to say the least. The other thing about these older Northeastern cities: there is always this odd juxtaposition of these insanely historical features with glass and steel modern buildings. It's the same in Boston. To be clear, both cities have tried to create some space around these areas but it's hard to do enough. And then there's this:
The Liberty Bell is in this well-designed glass enclosure that allows you to see it pretty much any time of day. This picture was actually taken from outside the structure. I did see the Liberty Bell when I was a kid and I recall that back then you could actually touch it. It is also much smaller than I imagined it would be. I'm unsure exactly how large I thought it *should* be but it is an American liberty bell for goodness sake. It should've required 20 tons of bronze or something…:)
So, all in all a good but quick trip to Philly. I'd like to pop back up there for a day or two and get the opportunity to check it out a bit more. It's a neat place.