Words From A Philly Fan

I’m proud and relieved to say that I am fully vaccinated against coronavirus, the microscopic beast that, for us humans, likes nothing better than to cause pain and death and to make an unholy mess of things. And though there are plenty of unknowns about what the future holds, for the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, I’m proceeding on the assumption that the two doses of Moderna I received have done their job. In other words, protected me from developing COVID.

That’s why, earlier this month and for the first time since the pandemic began, I packaged together activities that used to be semi-regular parts of my repertoire. Namely, I hopped aboard a train, a means of transport that I deemed too risky to use pre-vaccination, and rode it for an hour from my suburban town to a station in the heart of Philadelphia, the city I know better than any other. Then, upon arrival, I took a substantial walk through The City Of Brotherly Love’s streets.

(Yeah, I could have driven into Philly at pretty much any time during the past year, but said drive is a major pain, as is finding somewhere to park in the sections I like to walk around in.)

Vivid sunlight greeted me as I exited the train station at 10th and Filbert Streets. With no game plan, no specific destinations in mind, I looked this way and that, shrugged, and let my legs and feet take me where they would. Three and a quarter hours later — a chunk of time that passed almost in a flash — I had walked upon a fair number of central Philadelphia’s blocks, covering about four and a half miles in all.

Philadelphia’s Chinatown neighborhood

The area that I traversed on the Friday in question forms a large rectangle and includes a host of neighborhoods. Among them are Chinatown, Old City, Society Hill, South Street and Center City West. Old City and Society Hill, by the way, encompass much of what was within the city’s boundaries during its emergence as a major player in the 1700s. Reacquainting myself with these and other Philadelphia neighborhoods felt damn good, though my absence didn’t seem as long as it actually had been. What surprised me more than anything was that, despite all the walking I’ve done in central Philadelphia over the years, I probably never had been on some of the blocks that passed beneath my feet. For instance, had I ever before walked past or seen the enormous mural that proclaims WORK UNITES US on a building that is close to both Chinatown and Old City? I think not.

Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood
Philadelphia’s Society Hill neighborhood

Well, the conditions were as fine as any I might have dialed up. The skies were a sweet blue, the temperature mild, and a healthy number of young ladies strolling around looked superb. Within the eastern half of the rectangle that I visited, the sidewalks were not particularly crowded. Its Old City and Society Hill areas normally teem with tourists, but not now, needless to say. Add to that the fact that mucho workers who used to be on the streets during their lunch hours are now working from home, another consequence of the virus. I saw quite a few more people, however, within the rectangle’s western half, mainly because of cafes and restaurants whose outdoor tables, in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, were packed. But not as many as I would have a year and a half ago.

Philadelphia’s South Street neighborhood
Philadelphia’s Center City West neighborhood

All in all, COVID has put Philly, and just about all American cities, I suppose, in a hell of a hole. For one thing, Philadelphia never will return to its former self should working-from-home remain a significant way of doing business. I mean, can you imagine the ripple effects that will occur if the city’s office buildings, whether modest or skyscraping, become half vacant, or worse, permanently? Man, I’m very worried about this.

Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood
Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square park

However, all is not lost. The city has much going for it. Deep history. Parks galore. Handsome buildings several centuries old. Modern skyscrapers tantalizingly sleek. I saw examples of all of that during my walk. What’s more, during the last 25 or 30 years Philadelphia’s restaurant scene became world-class and its cultural offerings exploded in number. Restaurants, in general, have hung in there fairly well during the pandemic, though there have been casualties of course. And culture is slowly returning as pandemic restrictions are being relaxed more and more.

No doubt about it, I’ll head back to Philadelphia a bunch of times pretty soon. To trek again. To dine. To take in movies and rock and jazz concerts. I dig the city a whole lot, as if you couldn’t tell. If I didn’t, I’d have moved to another region long ago.

(Please don’t be shy about adding your comments. Gracias.)

142 thoughts on “Words From A Philly Fan

  1. tanjabrittonwriter May 31, 2021 / 11:58 pm

    I’m glad you were able to reacquaint yourself with your beloved Philly, Neil. Let’s hope you will be able to continue to do so in the near future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 1, 2021 / 7:16 am

      Morning, Tanja. There’s a very large park (in the southern end of the city) that I’ve never been to. It’s on my visit-pretty-soon list.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jacqui Murray June 1, 2021 / 10:35 am

    Sorry I’m so late to the party. I had thought to skip all the posts that came out in my absence but I couldn’t skip this one. Your foray back to normalcy–I’m with you, Neil. Four mile walk! And I too think about permanent changes as people are empowered to work from home. There’s good and bad about that but those who own the skyscrapers will have to figure out new uses for their buildings. I think the air will be cleaner and the streets less littered. There’s that.

    Loved the post, Neil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 1, 2021 / 12:15 pm

      Hi, Jacqui, and thanks Right, there will be positives and negatives if working from home becomes more and more common. I hope that the former will outweigh the latter.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. theburningheart June 2, 2021 / 3:14 pm

    Don’t we all are glad, that it seems this pandemic it’s almost gone, or so we hope!
    I am glad you are enjoying your old routines, and hopefully soon we go back to normalcy.
    Greetings, and enjoy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 5, 2021 / 11:48 pm

      Hi, Ruth. I want to wander around Philadelphia again soon. But I’ll have to wait a while till the temperatures normalize — we’re in a heat wave right now!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dave June 6, 2021 / 11:49 am

    Has the Barnes Museum reopened? My niece worked in their elementary education awareness program for several years, but alas, COVID laid her off. She still loves Philadelphia tho’. Lives with her boyfriend in an electic four-story townhouse in the heart of the city.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 6, 2021 / 1:05 pm

      Howdy, Dave. The Barnes has been open for at least a few months. What an incredible collection. I hope to visit it again soon.

      Like

  5. Darts and Letters June 6, 2021 / 2:25 pm

    My good friend who lives in mount airy sent me a video from a bike ride she went on yesterday, the loudest cicadas I’ve ever heard! I didn’t realize it had gotten so hot in Philly. That looks like a really nice walk. Downtown is still really deserted here and there are a lot of the same concerns. especially thorny with all of the new construction we’ve seen as Amazon has assimilated part of the city like the Borg. but my wife has been going to her office for months and months.We made WFH work very well during most of the pandemic but work from home is not appealing to either of us. we like the work-home separation. But then again we’re pretty lucky to live ten minutes, two hills from downtown on surface streets in a quiet neighborhood. She’s a principal where she works and is really wrestling with how their company will deal with the WFH issue. Because a lot of people love it, especially those who deal with thorny commutes

    before you retired did you work around downtown someplace? Are you a Philly native?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 6, 2021 / 4:33 pm

      Hi. I grew up in Brooklyn and then Long Island. Moved to Philadelphia in the 1970s and lived in the city for many years. We moved to the Philly burbs 16 years ago. I worked in various parts of Philadelphia, including a section close to downtown.

      Like

  6. Jeff the Chef June 6, 2021 / 8:16 pm

    I used to live near Philly, and spent many a day like yours, exploring it on foot. It’s a truly great city, for all the reasons you describe. I love its mix of old and new. Places like Rittenhouse Square are so immensely pleasant, but my favorite parts of the city were the parts that were a bit less refined, like Reading Terminal Market. That place used to be one of my favorite on earth; I prided myself on knowing every square inch of that makeshift maze of a market.

    No question that we’ll ultimately find that the pandemic will have changed some things for good. The way we work, and the business that supports workers and work places seem likely to be one of those things. However, maybe it means that more cool things will pop up near places where people live, rather than where they work. Conversely, maybe living spaces will pop up amongst places where people used to primarily work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 6, 2021 / 11:20 pm

      Howdy, Jeff. I’m a big fan of the Reading market too. It’s so full of life. The city is lucky that it’s there. Another great place is the Race Street Pier. It used to be an abandoned pier, but it’s been transformed into a small urban park. I love being there in the dark, looking out at the river and looking up at the Ben Franklin bridge all lit up at night.

      Like

  7. D. Wallace Peach June 7, 2021 / 12:30 pm

    Congrats on getting vaccinated, Neil. And doesn’t it feel wonderful to get outside and walk and enjoy civilization again without having to worry about germs! It looks like you had a glorious day to enjoy the city. Philly has a lot to offer. It will be vibrant again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • D. Wallace Peach June 7, 2021 / 3:52 pm

        No kidding! I can’t even imagine if we had to face another year of isolation, death, and destruction. They were fast and effective.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. carolinehelbig June 8, 2021 / 2:11 pm

    Isn’t it amazing how three and a half hours can pass in a flash when you’re having a good time. It’s nice to hear that you have rediscovered neighbourhoods of Philly and even discovered some blocks you’d never been on. Congrats on being fully vaccinated and hope you enjoy more explorations in your city.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 8, 2021 / 4:27 pm

      Each day I feel more and more grateful to the people who developed the vaccines. They’ve taken heavy weights off the shoulders of millions and millions of people.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Brockelman June 15, 2021 / 7:25 pm

    Beautiful piece. I’d expand on the mural quote: Work and sharing our stories unite us.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Vinny July 1, 2021 / 12:41 pm

    What a great blog. I felt as if I was walking those streets.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Michele Anderson July 30, 2021 / 9:01 pm

    What a fun day you had Neil. Let’s hope with all the daily changes that we can all still enjoy this summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. lookingforthehigherself August 9, 2021 / 7:21 am

    What a liberating read. Lovely to know you got vaccinated twice and took this ‘walk freely’ trip to feel the freedom of life pre covid. Ive also just had my second AZ jab last week and feeling a tad bit relieved but in my part of the world things r so far from over 😢 still I feel grateful to be vaccinated

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 9, 2021 / 8:44 am

      Hi. Thanks for visiting. I guess the Covid situation remains a big unknown in some respects, considering that only small percentages of people have been vaccinated in some countries.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. mjcd2017 August 24, 2021 / 5:18 pm

    Great pics and congrats to being vaccinated. I am too and very happy about it … I just don’t get why people refuse to get vaccines. After all, for years no one had any trouble getting shots against yellow fever, hepatitis, tropical diseases etc when going on vacations, having to present the vaccination passport on entry into certain countries … but with the pandemic vaccinations are suddenly “evil”, a loss of freedom and whatever ridiculous reasons one can find. Greetings from an Austrian living and working in Germany 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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