Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Huffington Post has classified Philadelphia as the "Most Underrated City in America"

Boathouse Row | Philadelphia

Some people may read my blog post title and say, "That sounds a bit negative, Huffington Post."

Others (myself included) may say, "Damn straight, HP" (or "darn tootin" if you happen to not be from Philadelphia or the Northeastern US).

IMHO, it's a great accolade, which is what inspired me to write today.

Being an underdog is something that most long-time Philadelphians embrace (including myself, just a bit), which is due mostly to our local sports history ... and Rocky, of course. But as our city has progressed over the past 10+ years with an increase in overall population and a renewed sense of optimism, it's time to start embracing what the future could and should be.

Without getting ahead of myself here, these were Huff Post's reasons that I personally enjoyed the most:

1. Philadelphia has over 200 BYOB restaurants, and almost none of them have corkage fees.

This very-Philadelphian restaurant way-of-life, due to an influx of young/new chefs/restaurateurs and PA's archaic liquor laws (with hefty licensure costs), BYOBs have become the norm in our fair city. They accomplish 2 very important things: 1) They allow more people to open up restaurants, offer unique food options, and keep start-up costs low, and 2) They allow Philadelphians to explore these restaurants, pay less for a night out, and drink whatever they want and as-much as they want. Win-win in my book.

2. It is an American history nerd's promised land.

In Philadelphia, there are the globally known/touristy spots like Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, and the Liberty Bell. But how about ... Mutter Museum (medical history and oddities), Philadelphia Mint (the nation's first), Elfreth's Alley (the oldest residential street in America), and too many other options to list here. Since America was basically invented in Philadelphia, as we are sometimes referred to as the "Birthplace of America," naturally we would have the most to say about how we became the greatest country in the world.

3. It's an insanely easy city to navigate thanks to "Walk! Philadelphia." It's also the largest comprehensive pedestrian sign system in North America.

Since most people have some type of smartphone these days, Walk! Philadelphia is not as critical today as it was during its inception in 1995. Nevertheless, it doesn't hurt to have these circular signs posted everywhere in Center City to help you weave your way through different blocks and neighborhoods. In 2013, Philadelphia was dubbed the "4th Most Walkable US City," and our WP signs help back up that distinction.

4. The Philadelphia Eagles have the best fight song of any football team.

No need to explain this one. It's just an awesome song, even to those who aren't Birds fans. To those who are fans (again, such as myself), it's more-or-less our city's anthem. Good call, Huff Post.

5. It's bursting with a vibrant arts community, including numerous artist-run collectives.

Back in 2012, I posted about how Philly was named "#1 for Arts & Culture." Now it seems like our art scene just gets more expansive everyday. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rodin Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Barnes Foundation, Kimmel Center, Academy of Music, and many more. We have world-class status when it comes to art, and we're also known internationally as the "City of Murals," showing off more public murals than any other US city. Recently, Philadelphia's CITYWIDE Project brought in 20 different art collectives to share their ideas and grow our city's art scene ... together. Art is in our history, and growing our future.

6. Some of the best restaurateurs in the world have set up shop in Philadelphia.

I don't know how many other US cities can claim that aside from NYC, LA, Chicago, and Vegas. Philadelphia has a dominant restaurant scene, and it only seems to get more legitimate every year. So much so that well-known Center City spots have started expanding into the local suburbs, as well as into other major US markets (like NYC and DC). We now boast 2 Top Chef winners (Kevin Sbraga and Nicholas Elmi), and 1 Iron Chef winner (Jose Garces). Oh, and don't forget about Starr, Vetri, and Solomonov. I don't know how much more credibility I need to showcase here, our dining scene speaks for itself.

7. Fairmount Park is one of the largest city-owned parks in the country.

One big reason why people decide to leave cities, they want to enjoy nature. Well, Philadelphia has excellent options for both urbanites and ruralists alike. Northwest has the Wissahickon Valley, and Northeast has Pennypack. But if you are more of a downtown kind of person, Fairmount Park backs right up to Center City and University City. So no matter where you live in the city, a park-like setting is always close by.

And there you have it, my take on a great article.

If you would prefer to read the whole list from Huffington Post yourself, check it out here. They posted 31 different reasons why Philadelphia is a great place to be.

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