Destinations: City of Brotherly Love Offers Philly Cheese Steak – and More | Life

My sister and brother-in-law joined us for a six night getaway to beautiful Philadelphia. We traveled on Interstate 84 and over what is now the Mario Cuomo Bridge to avoid New York.

Our comfortable and affordable two-bedroom Airbnb was located in the northern district known as Brewerytown. It was close to parks, museums and the Philadelphia Zoo, but best of all, we had a garage for the car. When we learned how expensive Uber rides were, we opted to pay to park in garages when we visited the Old Town area and for other outings. With four of us it was efficient and profitable.

The city was founded by Quaker William Penn in 1682. Along with New York, it was the early capital of the United States. It was used again as capital during the construction of the current Capitol in Washington (1793-1800). Historical landmarks abound and help inform millions of visitors each year. Walking is learning in this great city. There are 67 national historic monuments here and it has the distinction of being the first American city to be designated as a World Heritage City. The Independence Visitor Center in the Old Town has both tourist information offices and National Park Service staff to assist you.

We visited the National Constitution Center, which had two special exhibits: Women’s Suffrage and the Reconstruction Period after the Abolition of Slavery; both very informative and beautifully set up.

Women’s suffrage prompted the city to temporarily change its nickname from “City of Brotherly Love” to “City of Brotherly Love” in 2020, in honor of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. .

The theater offers here a multimedia one-woman show that tells the story of the United States in 17 minutes. When you leave the theater, there is a special area that exhibits the signing of the Constitution, with life-size bronze figures of the signatories. The guides are keen to provide information on every man present, including the three who would not sign the document. Photos and selfies are encouraged here, so I sat in Benjamin Franklin’s lap.

Part of the charm of Philly is that it has more outdoor sculptures and murals than any other city in the United States. It has been presented in a grid, which helps to navigate. It is the sixth most populous city in the United States, with 1.6 million inhabitants. The skyline features splendid skyscrapers of many architectural styles that today house businesses, offices and headquarters, including Cigna.

We traveled an hour to Longwood Gardens, which Pierre duPont created between 1909 and 1921 on 1,077 acres; it is a lush and beautiful place. There are formal and natural gardens to explore. Among the permanent collections are spectacular orchids, bonsai trees (the oldest having started in 1940), lily ponds, fountains dancing to classical music and two magnificent tree houses.

Back in town, we tried the famous Philly cheesesteak at a little neighborhood restaurant near our apartment. The owner recommended what he swore to be the best soft pretzels (another Philly delight) to have, and directed us to a factory in South Philly that was only open from 6-11 a.m. The next day (our last in Philly) we got there just in time to collect the last sachet of these delicacies and a bottle of mustard. This area is very industrial, but is also home to a large open-air Italian market and many Asian businesses. Driving from here to the old town (not far) we meandered through beautiful residential streets dotted with small businesses and restaurants.

We took a special trip to the city’s college district, west of the Schuylkill River, to tour the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740. The campus is home to 10,000 undergraduates. and 11,000 graduate students. We visited a small gallery in the architecturally beautiful old fine arts building that has an impressive display of 17th century Dutch genre paintings. The UPenn bookstore was huge and housed in a modern, bright building.

We found a good local Japanese restaurant and brought our own wine, a common practice in Philly where many dining establishments are BYOB.

Marsha Levinson Mason of Windsor is retired after a long career in social service agencies in Hartford.

Comments are closed.