Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What's not to love about Philly?

Cheese steak sandwich

If you visit Philadelphia, you must try a delicious cheese steak sandwich. Shaved steak is grilled and piled high on an authentic Philadelphia roll, smothered in grilled onions, and then topped with cheese that melts over the hot meat. It is yummy and requires a lot of napkins. The sandwich was invented by Pat Olivieri in the 1930s and quickly became a hit. If you are in Philly and order a cheese steak, do not ask for a "Philly cheese steak" because they will know you are from out of town, and the locals don't like it. Instead, simply request a "cheese steak" and then enjoy this scrumptious treat.

The Friendship Gate in Philadelphia's Chinatown
Slightly north of Philadelphia's city center you find yourself in Chinatown where there are over 50 restaurants. The third largest Chinatown in the United States, this small area has fifteen grocery stores that sell a wide variety of specialty foods from Asia. The Friendship Gate was built by artists from China to commemorate a cultural exchange with Tianjin, Philadelphia's sister city in China. The beautiful gate is recognized internationally as a landmark.

This massive building is Philadelphia's City Hall.

In the city center, you will find this beautiful building. It is Philadelphia's City Hall, the largest municipal building in the country. The structure stretches for an entire city block and took 30 years to build (1871-1901). It is the largest masonry load-bearing building in the world. A statue of William Penn sits atop; it is the tallest statue on any building in the world. Eighty-eight million bricks were used to create this mammoth edifice. What takes place in a city hall? What do people who work in city hall do?

This steel clothespin is 45 feet tall.
This giant clothespin is an example of the many artworks scattered throughout Philadelphia. The city has made a commitment to having art in prominent places for everyone to enjoy. They even passed a local ordinance requiring it called The Percent for Art Ordinance, section 16-103 of the Philadelphia Code. The Ordinance  requires that one percent (1%) of the total dollar amount of any construction contract will be devoted to fine arts. If a building costs ten million dollars ($10,000,000), ten thousand dollars ($10,000) must be provided for the creation of fine art.

The water in the fountain behind the sculpture is sometimes dyed bright colors.

Love Park is the nickname of John F. Kennedy Plaza, a lovely place to relax. The fountain in the middle of the park sprays water high in the air. At times the water is dyed to celebrate an event. It was blue the other day because the Phillies are in first place. Does the large statue of love that overlooks the park seem familiar? Originally designed as a Christmas card in 1964 by artist Robert Indiana, a sculpture of his design was placed in the park in 1976. Three years earlier, the design appeared on a United States stamp. 

When this stamp was created it cost eight cents to mail a letter. How much does it cost to mail a letter today?

Philadelphia is home to many professional sports teams. At the writing of this blog entry, the Phillies are in first place and are expected to play in the World Series next month. At present, Michael Vick from Virginia is the quarterback for the Eagles. The 76ers are the basketball team, and the Flyers play hockey. Unlike most cities, all the ball fields are located in one part of the city in a large sports complex.

Elfreth's Alley
Tucked away in the oldest part of Philadelphia not far from the waterfront is Elfreth's Alley. This National Historic Landmark dates to the early 1700s and has been inhabited ever since. Long ago the houses were owned by tradesmen--silversmiths, glassblowers, shipwrights, and pewter smiths. The original cobblestones still line the pathway between the two rows of houses. Called Our Nation's Oldest Residential Street the houses along Elfreth's Alley have been restored and preserved.

There are so many places to visit in Philadelphia, it could take months or longer to visit them all. There are too many museums to list, but you can find descriptions of them online. If your family is looking for an interesting place to visit, Philadelphia is a good choice. It is, after all, the birthplace of our great country, the United States of America.

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