Regional Profiles – Northeast – Welcome to Philadelphia

Forbes Magazine recently ranked downtown Philadelphia as a top place for singles. The cost of living is also lower than other major U.S. metro areas. Philadelphia is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies and 92 colleges and universities. Nearly six-hundred international companies from forty different countries have an office in Greater Philadelphia.

Philly is a very walkable city. The streets are on an easy-to-follow grid. At the core is City Hall, the country’s largest municipal building. (Tip: All streets that run north to south are numbered, increasing as you move west from the Delaware river.)

When you need to escape, Fairmount Park is one of the largest landscaped urban parks in the U.S. with more than 200 miles of recreation trails. Within an hour’s drive you can be in the mountains or at the beach.

Philadelphia is a food-lovers paradise. The restaurants are diverse and delicious, with internationally-renowned chefs. Some of the greatest places are the small, intimate BYO’s: Bring-Your-Own wine, beer, or liquor.

Philly has a thriving arts and culture community. There are world-class museums and a variety of performing arts. On the First Friday of every month, galleries throughout Center City open their doors with wine and cheese in a celebration of art.

William Penn designed Philadelphia around four large squares including Rittenhouse Square in the west and Washington Square in the east. Each Philly neighborhood has a unique character:

The Rittenhouse Square neighborhood is the upper-end section of Center City, closest to the main business district. The namesake Rittenhouse Square is a park bordered by cafes, luxury hotels and condominium buildings. Many of the three-story rowhouses are individual condos and apartments. Original moldings and fireplaces give these places more character than the high-rise apartments nearby, although they sacrifice the doorman and view.

Just to the south is the Fitler Square neighborhood. Known for its charming tree-lined streets and dog-park, this area is quieter than its northern neighbor. It is adjacent to the Schuylkill River and has several loft-style apartment buildings that look west over the river. The riverside path is a huge plus if you enjoy walking, jogging, biking, and kayaking.

If you own a car and prefer street parking rather than a monthly garage, consider the Graduate Hospital neighborhood. Next-door to Fitler Square, it’s increasingly popular with graduate students and young professionals. Housing is less expensive and the neighborhood has lively eateries and bars.

To the east of the Avenue of the Arts are the Washington Square West, Society Hill, and Old City neighborhoods. These areas are part of Center City East and have a more historic character.

The Washington Square West is less congested than Rittenhouse. The surrounding area is home to young professionals and graduate students. The quaint alleys, too small for any vehicles, will remind you of the City’s history. The neighborhood is home to Antique Row, coffee shops, and brick sidewalks. One big plus is that you can walk easily to almost anywhere in Center City.

The Society Hill neighborhood is the older, more refined version of Washington Square. It has the largest collection of authentic colonial houses, and is a beautiful and quiet district. After Rittenhouse Square, this is the most expensive housing in the City.

The Old City neighborhood is the hippest neighborhood, full of boutiques, restaurants, bars, and clubs. Tourists gravitate here because of the numerous historic sites. (The Liberty Bell, Declaration of Independence.) Old factories have been converted into lofts with views of the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge. Car owners will prefer to pay for monthly parking as street parking can be difficult.

If you prefer to drive, the city has an affordable permit system for street parking. For the green-friendly, the public transit system and car share system is extensive.

Philadelphians are a lively bunch and take great pride in their city and sport teams. Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love!

February 23, 2009
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