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Pennguy09

All about Philadelphia

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Hi, I'm Pennguy09 (I'm new to the forum), and I wanted to learn more about Philadelphia. Right now I live in Springfield, Missouri (in the Ozarks region), and I've decided to attend the University of Pennsylvania as a freshman beginning in the Fall of 2005. I've never been to Philadelphia yet or even the Northeast, but I will be visiting in mid-june. However I'd like to learn more about the place where I'll be living for the next four years. What's the overall "feel" of the city? What are its best aspects? and worst? Are there any specific things I should know as a future resident of Philadelphia? What places should I see (other than the university) on my visit? How is the culture? and the people? Is the local accent similar to a New York accent, or is it completely different? Is life a lot more fast-paced than in the Midwest? How's the weather?, ect.

I know that's a lot of questions, but I'd greatly appreciate any answers you guys could give me. Even without the answers, there's no doubt in my mind that Philadelphia will be awesome!

Later,

Pennguy09

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What's the overall "feel" of the city? 

An old historic (for the US) city with a strange mix of blue-collar and blue-blood now seeing dynamic redevelopment at its urban core and being rediscovered.

What are its best aspects?

History. Nightlife. Restaurant scene. Cultural scene.

and  worst? 

Poverty in many neighborhoods. Racial tension. Corrupt government. And the Philly Attytood (the one where locals take pleasure in dissing their own city - very much the opposite of the Atlanta attitude where they take a grain of sand in their city and then boast that it is Mt. Everest).

Are there any specific things I should know as a future resident of Philadelphia?

Center City is where its at. Most Penn students make the wrong decision of never leaving University City. Then they complain that Philly's scene is all college students and nothing else. In truth, people like me who live in Center City find little reason ever to leave Center City and its surrounding area. It is like a mini-Manhattan with population density, stores, restaurants, museums, street life, etc.

Just today I checked out a large flea market and then went to a festival at the Italian Market - all within walking distance.

Also, you should venture into the ethnic neighborhoods. Most Penn students only go to Chinatown and the Italian Market because that's all they know. However, there are several Koreatowns, several Little Saigons, an Ethiopian strip, a Puerto Rican area, a Mexican area, a Brazilian area, a Russian area, an Indian area, you name it.

You really should also check out the Stephen Starr resturants. He's a restauranteur who's known to put up theatrical embellishment to his trendy restaurants. No, they're not cheesy Vegas type deals. Instead they're classy trendy places of the type you'd find in Manhattan.

Also, check out Rittenhouse Square which is the epitome of what an urban square should be like - lined with art/condo towers, hotels, a library, a bookstore, sidewalk cafes, and shopping boutiques.

Is the local accent similar to a New York accent' date=' or is it completely different?  [/quote']

Completely different. Its hard to explain but you'll notice when you get here. Its something in the "wortur" (water).

Is life a lot more fast-paced than in the Midwest?

Um, yeah :)

How's the weather?, ect.

Relatively mild for the Northeast. It is somewhat similar to Washington, DC. Winters aren't so bad though there are occasional Nor'easters that bring alot of snow. Summers can get hot and humid. Spring and fall are the best seasons and not anywhere near as rainy as they are in the Midwest (in fact, fall is typically not very rainy).

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An old historic (for the US) city with a strange mix of blue-collar and blue-blood now seeing dynamic redevelopment at its urban core and being rediscovered.

Completely different.  Its hard to explain but you'll notice when you get here.  Its something in the "wortur" (water).

Relatively mild for the Northeast.  It is somewhat similar to Washington, DC.  Winters aren't so bad though there are occasional Nor'easters that bring alot of snow.  Summers can get hot and humid.  Spring and fall are the best seasons and not anywhere near as rainy as they are in the Midwest (in fact, fall is typically not very rainy).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Fall and Spring are beautiful, although lately the springs have been short as the winters tend to linger. Summer is too hot and humid but you're only an hour and 1/2 from the beach nad you'll probaby be back in Mo. anyhows. The winter days are depressing and short, avg. daytime high about 35 in Jan/Feb. Snowfall average about 30" per winter.

Things to see?

Rittenhouse Square

Soceity Hill

Old City

Ben Franklin Parkway

Fairmount park/Kelly Drive/Boathouse Row

Manayunk

Valley Forge

King of Prussia Mall

Penn is doing an unbelievable job in modernizing University City, incredible campus. You are literally right next door to Drexel University, University of the Sciences, and Center City. St. Joseph's, ,Temple,LaSalle,Chestnut Hill, Thomas Jefferson are all in the city, a stones throw away. Vilanova,Bryn Mawr, Haverford,Swarthmore, Rosemont,Cabrini,Widener,Immaculata colleges are all within a half hour's drive of Penn. There are a total of 85 colleges and 350,000 students within the Philadlephia metro. Bigger than Boston , more students in this metro than any metro in the country.

The only downfall is that Penn has the neighborhood of west Philadelphia to its immediate west. West Philly has issues. But the campus is crawling with police and security.

Good luck

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Hey, thanks for the info guys. Philadelphia seems exciting. On the weather topic, is the weather anything like Chicago's; I used to live in Southwest Chicagoland, so I can relate to that. Also, how's the public transportation, SEPTA; is it convienent, safe, and inexpensive? You guys have mentioned a lot of things to see in Pennsylvania, but what's there to do or see on the New Jersey side of the Deleware?

I greatly appreciate your responses; keep them coming!

Later

Pennguy09

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Hey, thanks for the info guys.  Philadelphia seems exciting.  On the weather topic, is the weather anything like Chicago's;[

We're warmer than Chicago and sunnier.

  Also, how's the public transportation, SEPTA; is it convienent, safe, and inexpensive? 

SEPTA is the most expensive system in the country. Base fare I beleive is $2 (I can't really say sicne I don't use them anymore since they've gotten too expensive) and is expected to go up. You're better off with a monthly pass. The only line you'd likely be interested in is the Market-Frankford line (aka Blue Line) subway/el since it takes you from University City to Center City. The trolleys also do that and may be more convenient to the Penn campus. They also run as a subway in Center City. Safety? It depends on where and when. I've never had a problem but once in a while you ahve incidents like one a few years back where a lady got knifed by some insane guy at the 30th Street subway station (near Penn). A colleague of mine also got mugged by a guy holding a machine gun in the underground concourse leading to the subway. Generally its ok, though. I would not get all worked up over a few isolated incidents. If you feel unsafe, then take the bus. Also, cabs are everywhere in Unviersity and Center Cities (much like Manhattan). I've probably taken teh cab far mroe often than public transit.

You guys have mentioned a lot of things to see in Pennsylvania, but what's there to do or see on the New Jersey side of the Deleware?

Out in the PA suburbs you can visit the colelge towns of Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, West Chester and Villanova - all beutiful blue blood places with great old homes. Doylestown is also worth a look since it feels lifted out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Then there's New Hope which is an artist's village by the river. In NJ, Princeton is interesting and Haddonfield is another Norman ROckwell type town. Camden may be good for urban exploration and they're redeveloping their waterfront as an entertainment zone. Other than that, you should just drive straight through NJ to the Shore where the beach towns are great for visiting in the summer (if you're in town). Ocean City is a nice relaxed resort with a baordwalk. Avalon is full of younger people who rent homes for a week. Wildwood has amusement parks and bars. Cape May is a Victornian sea side resort.

As for Delaware, well there's not a whole lot of interest. The Bradywine Valley is interesting and scenic. OTher than that, you've got the Atantic shore (Rehoboth and Dewey beaches).

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I'm interested, I agree $2 is too expensive, how much would a ride on septa have to cost for you to use it?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

About $1.50 to ride within the city is how much I'd be willing to pay. Otherwise I'd walk (since I live in Center City, I typcially find it more practical to walk anyway).

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Well, i have great news for you. Septa costs $1.30. $2 is the cash fair, a token costs $1.30. You can buy them at several places around town. Go to septa.org and you can find out all the places or buy them online.

Also, city hall is a free interchange so the system can be quite cheap for some trips (going to a ball game for example). I'm not sure but I think Chicago and NY are more expensive. I think a lot of poop was thrown around in the papers when Septa was looking for more funding. Pennguy could hop on the trolley and then the BSL and be at the game in 25 minutes for under $1.50, not bad.

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Poverty in many neighborhoods. Racial tension. Corrupt government. And the Philly Attytood (the one where locals take pleasure in dissing their own city - very much the opposite of the Atlanta attitude where they take a grain of sand in their city and then boast that it is Mt. Everest).

To help end city corruption please visit Stop Pay to Play. It is a site I am involved in to try and pressure city council to pass reform in how the city does business. Remember to send your e-mails every Wednesday.

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Well, i have great news for you.  Septa costs $1.30.  $2 is the cash fair, a token costs $1.30.  You can buy them at several places around town.  Go to septa.org and you can find out all the places or buy them online.

True, thanks. I didn't know you could buy them online. All the same, I rarely take SEPTA since living in Center City means that I rarely have to leave (and CC is fairly walkable). I go the token route whenever I have to leave CC.

For Pennguy, I agree with stinkweed on going the token route. Its better than the monthly pass route in fact since the monthly pass works out economically only if you take SEPTA every day. The tokens will allow for a $2.60 round trip to CC or the stadiums. In fact, you might not even need tokens for CC since the Penn bus goes to 20th and Walnut in CC and from there much of the rest of CC is walkable. A bus might come in handy for South Street and the subway for Old City.

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Thanks for all the post guys.

I'm already excited about life in Philly! Unfortunately, though I've enrolled at Penn, I've never been able to visit it yet because of the tremedous distance obstacle. Therefore, would you guys give me a synopsis of the actual Penn campus itself. I've seen lots of pictures and taken virtual tours, but an in person account of the place would be very nice. The university (and many college guide books) touts itself as being very pristine, prestigous, and old; in your opinions, does it live up to all the hype? From the pictures, I've gathered that Penn has a very collegiate yet urban atmosphere; am I correct? By the way, I'll be living at the Quad (a group of dorms off of Spruce Street I believe). If you guys have ever been around there, how would you describe that facility?

Thanks again,

Pennguy09

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Well, you might check out phillyblog.com, as it's name states it is centered around philly discussion. University City is IMO one of the very best urban neighborhoods in the country. It is very diverse as opposed to center city itself (which is not very diverse at all). You'll be able to find food from every corner of the globe in your new hood. I'm not sure about the quad but I think it's smack dab in the middle of everything. Good shopping and many things to do. There is a high end movie theater (the bridge) and a whole foods super market at 40th and market. But as I said give phillyblog a try PM a guy named seand, he has a store over on baltimore ave and is the resident UC expert or PM me and I'll show you around the site. There are some excellent pictures of powelton village and spruce hill all are nearby your place.

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Welcome Penn 09!

They have given you some good advice.

Here is your WEB PHILLY Survival Guide!

Courtesy of Philly Friends Inc. and GPTMC.

www.gophila.com

www.onebigcampus.org

www.centercityphila.org

www.pcvb.org

www.ucityphila.org (area where Penn is located)

Art House Movies in Center City (13 screens)

www.ritzfilmbill.com

+ Roxy Screening Room

Movies on Penn Campus

www.ihousephilly.org (international film + cultural events)

www.thebridgecinema.com (first run movies + cafe + restaurant)

Our 2 glossy Lifestyle Magazines

www.phillystylemag.com (Philadelphia Style Magazine, trendy, club listings etc.)

www.phillymag.com (Philadelphia Magazine, listings of Best of Philly from soup to nuts)

Our 2 Daily Newspapers (Inquirer & Daily News)

www.philly.com

Our 2 most popular Weekly Newspapers

www.philadelphiaweekly.com

www.citypaper.net

Penn

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Thanks for the huge guide city guy; it's really helpful. I'd still like to know about Penn's rep in Philadelphia and on the East Coast because here when I tell people about it, they often confuse it with Penn State (because of basketball and football).

Merci

Pennguy09

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Thanks for the huge guide city guy; it's really helpful.  I'd still like to know about Penn's rep in Philadelphia and on the East Coast because here when I tell people about it, they often confuse it with Penn State (because of basketball and football).

Merci

Pennguy09

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Out on the East Coast there aren't many people who will confuse Penn and Penn State. Penn has a very good reputation, especially in Philadelphia. I think out in the Midwest people confuse it more with Penn State since football is so much bigger out there and people are more apt to follow the Big 10 than the Ivy League. As such, the only "Penn" people may have ever heard about is Penn State.

Don't worry about it. The people who you want to know (employers, grad schools, etc.) will know. I went to Dartmouth and, believe me, few people outside the East Coast know anything about Dartmouth but it hasn't hurt me where it actually mattered.

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Urbanophile is correct. I have alot of friends who go to

Penn State and they never say I went to Penn. It is always

Penn State...two words.

If you say Penn in this area, everyone will know it

is the ivy league Penn.

Reputation is incredible. Your school has the #1 business

school for the past 4 years...Wharton. Law School is raked

#7. Nursing School is raked #1. Medical is #3 and your

medical school is the second most funded NIH research

school in the country. That is big bragging rights in

academic circles. Harvard is #1.

Annenberg School of Communication goes back and forth

but always in the top 5.

Most of your graduate programs except for Engineering is ranked

in the top 10.

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If you used to live in Chicago then you know philly. There is a little less of Philly of course but not so you'd notice and the accent is different. The natives are a little more agressive maybe and the weather not nearly as harsh. But mostly it is the same type of feeling as chicago.

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and the Phillies are as frustrating as the Cubs :lol:

but then again I root for the Pirates so I'm one to talk

;)

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Again thanks for the responses guys.

I'm glad that Philadelphia is a least like Chicago, so I won't feel totally overwhelmed when I get there. Luckily, this Saturday I'm going up to Philly for the national speech and debate tournament (I think I'll be competing at Wilmington though), and I'll get to look around Penn and the city. My trip lasts a week. Is there anything specifically I should see while I'm there? Oh, and my hotel is by the airport; is there quick way (like a train or something) I can get from there to the Penn campus and center city?

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And PghUSA- I don't know that much about the Pirates or Phillys (I assume that Pirates are Pittsburgh and the Phillys obviously Philadelphia), but you are VERY right about the Cubs.

WHITE SOX RULE!

REPRESENTING THE SOUTH SIDE!

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Again thanks for the responses guys.

I'm glad that Philadelphia is a least like Chicago, so I won't feel totally overwhelmed when I get there.  Luckily, this Saturday I'm going up to Philly for the national speech and debate tournament (I think I'll be competing at Wilmington though), and I'll get to look around Penn and the city.  My trip lasts a week.  Is there anything specifically I should see while I'm there?  Oh, and my hotel is by the airport; is there quick way (like a train or something) I can get from there to the Penn campus and center city?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Take the R1 train which goes every 30 minutes from the airport to University City Station (Penn). You can also take it to Suburban and Market East stations in Center City.

As for where to go, go to the Rittenhouse Sqaure area and walk around.

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