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Monday, August 15, 2005

"Philadelphia Story"

I was born outside of Philadelphia -- and, for years, when I was growing up in Alaska, my visits to Philadelphia pretty much shaped my view of what "big cities" were like -- which is probably why this article, in Sunday's NYT, caught my eye.  In "Philadelphia Story:  The Next Borough," the author explores the "Brooklynization" of Philly:

Attracted by a thriving arts and music scene here and a cost of living that is 37 percent lower than New York's, according to city figures, a significant number of youngish artists, musicians, restaurateurs and designers are leaving New York City and heading down the turnpike for the same reasons they once moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan.

"We got priced out of Manhattan, and we moved to Brooklyn," said John Schmersal, 32, of the three-member band Enon; two of them migrated here in January. "Then we got priced out of Brooklyn. Now we're in Philadelphia."

On a recent Friday night Mr. Schmersal and his girlfriend, Toko Yasuda, were huddled at the bar at the Khyber, a smoky rock institution in the nightclub-heavy Old City neighborhood, a Colonial area of narrow streets bordering the Delaware River east of City Hall, to see Love as Laughter, a New York City band. "We like going to shows here," Mr. Schmersal said. "In New York there are so many people, it's impossible to even get in to see hot bands."

As the author concedes, the hip-ifying of Philly might seem unlikely (to NYT readers):

Fifteen or 20 years ago, the idea of Philadelphia as a place to go for quality life would have been laughable to many people, even to Philadelphians. Sandwiched between New York and Washington, Philadelphia was a flyover city - trainover really - a place where a mayor had ordered the bombing of a neighborhood and where Eagles fans reveled in booing their own team, its chief popular exports cheese steaks and "Rocky." While Philadelphia's rich cultural history, like its art museum, its symphony orchestra and its Colonial architecture, gave the city establishment credentials, it did not produce much of an avant-garde.

I imagine this "Brooklynization" is good in many ways.  Still, I think I prefer Philadelphia as the home of Pat's and Geno's (and, once upon a time, Charles Barkley) to Philly as the "Sixth Borough." 


Posted by Rick Garnett on August 15, 2005 at 12:50 AM | Permalink


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