“[Philadelphia is a] city that knows its own mind…They like what they like. And what they don’t like, they complain about.” – Garrison Keillor
The birthplace of the nation, Philadelphia presents a juxtaposition of colonial charm and 21st century innovation. William Penn, the city’s founder, stands immortally in bronze atop the ornate City Hall at the intersections of Broad and Market streets. Center City Philadelphia, which extends in all directions from City Hall, has grown since the city’s founding in 1682, to become one of the largest business districts in the United States. Four civic squares – Logan, Washington, Franklin and Rittenhouse, anchor the busy streetscape and provide amble views the diversity of the city. The last thirty years have seen an impressive construction boom of trophy skyscrapers – as city leaders scrapped the “gentleman’s agreement” which limited the height of buildings to be shorter than the brim of the cap of William Penn’s aforementioned statue on City Hall.
Independence has been the rallying cry of this city for over 200 years. From Independence Hall, the famed home of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, to the numerous murals that add color and style to the city streets, Philadelphians cherish their autonomy and creative spirit. Even as the city experienced many of the ills that plagued urban American cities in the second half of the 20th Century, Philadelphia continued to find new ways to savor tradition while forging forward. The juxtapositions do not cease beyond the core of the city; as one travels through the neighborhoods we encounter an art installation next to run down retail strip, or a community garden growing alongside a burned out row home.
Perhaps, then, it is no wonder why national publications have heralded this as the next up-in-coming great American city. The spirit of possibility – clearly present on that day in 1776 when a document was drafted and presented from Philadelphia that would change the course of human history – continues to live and thrive here. As the core of the city’s next tallest building – the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center – grows steadily toward the sky, Philadelphia continues to reach for greatness as it strives to live up to this adage from its most famous citizen – Benjamin Franklin: “One today is worth two tomorrows.”