In your face Center City: Philadelphia deserve better !
I was asked the following by a close friend who is struggling with where he wants to live in Philadelphia.
"Stephanie, if you could live anywhere in Philly no matter what the cost, where would you live?"
I said, without a moment of hesitation, "I'd live right where I am, here in Northern Liberties". If Northern Liberties did not exist I would live in any of the Fringe Neighborhoods such as: Art Museum, Graduate Hospital, Queen Village, Passyunk Square, Fishtown, etc..
"Do you want to know where I would not live? Center City," I say, "In your face, Center City!"
You can keep the pretense and high prices of Rittenhouse Square and the drone-like Business District, and the grit of Center City East. I am happy right where I am, in the Fringe of Center City and I think a lot more people are beginning to agree with me based on recent real estate sales activity.
Here is why:
On Friday, I cut out of the office a little early to pick up a hard copy book at Barnes and Noble at 18th and Walnut. I grab a cab very easily on North 2nd Street in Northern Liberties. There was no way I would have even considered driving into Center City since I would never have found parking. The cab ride was a nightmare - smelly, hot and slow. I jumped out of the cab five blocks early since I was stuck in a gridlock traffic jam at JFK Boulevard. I would have been better off hoofing it the whole way having the miserable cab ride cost me $15 with a tip. Ouch! Cabs are more affordable in New York City!
Anyway, as I made my way to my destination I was hit in my face with the typical Center City experience: dumpster diving rats in the alleyway in broad daylight, oily grimy puddles that I had to hop over at every corner, and the stench of urine and funk at the subway vents was inescapable. Honkeytonk businesses buying gold and selling a mixed bag of outdated costume jewelry, human hair, and ugly knock-off handbags is not my idea of a Center City shopping experience. The puke in the corners of stairwells and drunk vagrants seemingly passed out cold on every block was stomach-turning. When I approached Rittenhouse Square, I was greeted by a man making kissing noises at me as he leaned against the wall at Anthropologie on 18th and Walnut. In front of Barnes and Noble, I was accosted by some guy with crazy eyes and a clipboard aggressively pressing me to discuss the imminent Alien Invasion, Rapture, or Prophetic Catastrophe approaching. Yikes! I just wanted to buy a frigging book for crying out loud! The Square was filled with a mix of vagrants with all of their belongings in plastic bags stashed under the public benches, pooping primped pups and their dog walkers, and utterly oblivious youth obviously not working who perhaps are not yet hardened by the In Your Face hypocrisy of this renowned park located in the highest priced neighborhood in Philadelphia.
Was I shocked to hear a few few hours later that a violent flash mob converged on Walnut and Juniper on Friday night ? No, sadly, I was not. I was angry, though. I expect more from Center City than what it offers. I deserve better. Philadelphians deserve better!!!!!!!! Those folks who are brainwashed into thinking that the Center City area is a "better neigborhood" than those in the Fringe Neighborhoods, they have yet to convince me. It is not that the Fringe Neighborhoods are free of the byproduct of an urban environment, it is that the sheer volume of vileness is measurably less. And do you know what else is less in the Fringe? The cost of properties (you get so much more for your money in any of the fringe neighborhoods), the cost of really great fine dining and entertainment, less trash, less filth, less of a hangout for the homeless, and the closest thing we get to a Flash Mob in my neighborhood is the annual N 2nd Street Festival.
For a great lifestyle, take a second look at the Fringe Neighborhoods because you deserve better.
And my lesson learned for my most recent visit to Center City is that from now on, I am ordering all my books online through Amazon.com!