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Top 10 Neighborhoods in Philly
If you're trying to decide which neighborhood in the city itself, is just right for little ol' you, here's a quick summary:
Rittenhouse: For our purposes here, let's say this area extends from Broad Street to the Schuylkill River and from Market to Lombard Street. This is the ritziest area of town, perfect for Manhattan ex-pats. Even if they can hardly fit into your apartment (often expensive and small) and cannot find street parking, your friends will always come to you for many of the best, and most popular bars, lounges, restaurants and shopping in town.
Fitler Square: Just south of Rittenhouse's westernmost corner. It is just as expensive and is almost entirely residential with little commercial traffic. So darn cute with a little park in the center. Awwww!
Graduate Hospital Area: Housing prices have already more than doubled in this coming-up neighborhood located (you guessed it) in and around Graduate Hospital, just south of Rittenhouse. It is certainly an area in transition, a beautiful rehab next to an abandoned shell and a single block can be the difference between what some folks deem "safe" or not.
Old City: Not only are many of the coolest clubs, pubs, and restaurants now located here, but new museums and cultural centers are also popping up all over the place, including the new Visitor's Center. This is the oldest section of town with colonial architectural delights, lofts aplenty, and new condos sprouting up every day. It's right along the Delaware, so Penn's Landing makes a great place for a jog or contemplation of life (and Camden, New Jersey across the way). Even the National Museum of American Jewish History is re-building here.
Society Hill: Great architecture and neighborhood, yet expensive as it gets. Being right between Philly's famous South Street strip and Old City puts you close to the action-although for some it is too close since these popular areas can be very loud and a little rowdy, especially on weekends when much of the tri-state comes here to play.
Northern Liberties: This is one of the trendiest new places to live. Once the home of many a defunct brewery (including Ortleib's, check out the current jazz club) and warehouses, Northern Libs has been taken over by art galleries, clubs, and chi-chi hair salons. There are many cool lofts to rent and small houses to buy. One warning, there's so much transition, that folks are constantly signing on to rent apartments in the midst of make-overs, only to find at their move-in dates that the last coat of paint (or cabinets or toilet) still needs to be applied (or installed, as the case may be).
Art Museum Area/Fairmount: The location of many adorable (post Victorian) houses and apartments with loads of Philly character. This neighborhood is also home to an old prison that's now a museum (and rumoured to be haunted at that!), Eastern State Penitentiary. For some reason, many who live here feel removed from Center City even though it is only a 20 minute walk to Rittenhouse, but hey, it's right near the Philadelphia Museum of Art and all the other cultural venues and events on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (that slices diagonally through the city). Fairmount Park, the largest city park in the USA, begins just behind the Art Museum.
University City: West Philadelphia is a vast area, but much of it is not quite safe enough to recommend. University City (and we'll include Powelton Village here) is the exception, and growing. It's a point of controversy: is the University of Pennsylvania taking on too much property and forcing less fortunate residents out of the way for students and professors or are they helping re-build a once-squalid neighborhood. Some of the most fantastic architecture in the city, complete with mini-minarets and wood-carved facades abound if you just look up. U-Penn kid, U-Penn kid, (& Drexel too!)let down your hair!.
South Philly: Practice saying "Yo!" before moving here. That, and brush up on your gravy-making skills. Oh, and it's pronounced pash-YUNK, repeat pash-YUNK. South Philly's known as the "Italian" section of town, but these days there's a mix of new Asian immigrants as well as many African Americans. This racially diverse area features plenty of parking, good deals on the small, plain row homes, and, yup, plenty of Italian food. Try Mara's pizza, yum! You're also a hop, skip, or Broad Street Line ride away from Center City. Philly's sports stadiums are at the southernmost tip of the neighborhood next to Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park-a tailgater's delight! Of note, this neighborhood was once home to a large Jewish community before they all moved to the suburbs.
Bella Vista/Queen Village: These twin dynamos are located just north of Washington Street, which cuts South Philly off from Center City. The fun and cheap Italian Market is located in Bella Vista and worth a trip no matter where you re-locate. Queen Village gets the overflow from South Street, the city's once punker-than-thou strip, but more recently home to Starbucks and the Gap. You'll find many small backyards, a fair amount of parking, supermarkets, and convenience to Center City.