ACCESS Philadelphia (4th Edition)

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9780062772718: ACCESS Philadelphia (4th Edition)

The 28 detailed neighborhood maps in this guide will help you immediately locate the hotels, restaurants, shops and sights of Philadelphia.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Access Press is a team of writers from across the United

States that travel frequently, and know what you

want and need from a guidebook and what you don't like

and don't need.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Orientation

Permit Philadelphians a moment of expansiveness. After years of hearing their city distinguished mainly for the Liberty Bell, cheesesteaks, brick streets, and rabid sports fans, civic pride is on the upswing as a result of a massive dose of revitalization that began with the $500-million Pennsylvania Convention Center in July 1993. Meanwhile, City Hall, a stately granite and white-marble monolith finished at the turn of the century, has seen its 584-foot-tall tower emerge from a face-lift that had kept it under scaffolding for years. And 30th Street Station, a beautiful early 20th-century train station, has been restored to its Depression-era grandeur. Tour operators who once considered Philadelphia a day trip destination--catch the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross House, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Independence Hall and get out before sundown--now urge visitors to spend a few leisurely days getting to know the city.

William Penn designed Philadelphia with the pedestrian in mind, and walking is still the best way to see this spirited metropolis. The town is laid out in quadrants, with City Hall at the center. Each of the four areas is arranged around a public square: Franklin Square near Independence National Historical Park; Washington Square near Society Hill; Rittenhouse Square, west of Broad Street; and Logan Circle, with the stunning Swann Fountain, at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Wander a few blocks from any of these tranquil greenswards to delve into Philadelphia's history. The past isn't confined to museums here, nor is it necessarily marked on your historic-sites map. You'll see it in the horse-and-buggy-size alleys; the Old City factories converted to condos; the regal row houses flanking Rittenhouse Square; and at funky, down-home Reading Terminal Market, where you can stock up on Lancaster County produce, Amish baked goods, and Italian gourmet sauces.

Philadelphia also has a strong cultural scene, reflected in classic museums such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. For the past several years, the city has been developing an Avenue of the Arts corridor of buildings devoted to the performing arts near the Academy of Music on S Broad Street. And a renaissance that began in the late 1970s continues to produce new coffeehouses, bookstores, and restaurants. Philadelphia has also shed its meat-and-potatoes tendencies, owing in part to the ethnic groups that have settled here. Chinatown boasts a number of authentic (and inexpensive) Vietnamese and Thai restaurants as well as vegetarian diners and noodle shops. And if you search beyond the well-publicized trattorie of South Philadelphia, you'll find many menus that transcend the traditional tomato sauce.

Past the area that locals call Center City is Fairmount Park, a cool stretch of green popular for its bike and nature trails; the satellite neighborhoods of University City, trendy Manayunk, and ultraposh Chestnut Hill, home to the country's first cricket club; the Main Line community of Merion, which boasts the world-famous Barnes Foundation art gallery; and, even farther away in New Jersey, the gaming halls of Atlantic City. Kelly Drive snakes along the Schuylkill River, offering ringside seats for rowing competitions as well as urban skyline vistas, while a host of nightclubs along the Delaware River has inspired more than a few waterside pub crawls.

Many of these recent attractions, particularly waterfront bars and dance halls, wouldn't have had a prayer in what was a somewhat stodgy town 25 years ago. For decades Philadelphia lived in the shadow of Manhattan, just 90 miles to the north, and omnipresent history--such as Christ Church, where brass plaques mark the pews once occupied by George Washington and Benjamin Franklin--represented the city's only draw. A reverse trend is in progress, however, with New Yorkers (among others) discovering a place that's quieter, cleaner, less frantic . . . and full of possibility. And though the City of Brotherly Love may still feel awkward in its urbane role, no one will fault Philadelphians for a little self-congratulation--the city has been modest for too long.

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