has written 1 SperlingViews. Currently, Dickie is living in Norristown, PA and has a little something to say:
Philly is great...but Posted On: 12/29/2010 4:18:20 AM
I've lived in and around Philadelphia for nearly 10 years. There are some great qualities to the city that folks seem to forget about when hearing about the negatives (I'll get to those in a minute). The city has a vibrant arts, cultural, sports, and nightlife scene, arguably the best restaurants anywhere in the country, and has a very walkable downtown and the major parkways in the city are located within a mile of Center City. Housing is reasonable -- although can be very pricey for areas that have the "good" reputation going for it. The region boasts a very solid mix of new economy jobs (health, biotech, and technology) and some really good suburban communities that are close-knit and safe.
There are some real negatives. The city has a very regressive taxation policy that prevents economic growth within its borders (most of the "bigger" corporate centers are outside of the city and traffic going out of the city in the AM can sometimes be worse than the commute into the city), they have a ridiculously high wage tax which helps keep middle class folks out of the city and living in the townships outside of it, and corruption and pay-to-play politics run rampant throughout the city government. Poverty is extensive, mainly in north, west, and southwest Philadelphia and those areas are also the most crime-infested. Random acts of violence by teens/gangs *can* happen in the main business areas but they are not widespread and are very isolated in general. Mass transit is brutal and inefficient for a city of this size within the city limits but the regional train system going from the city to burbs is top notch (14 lines of trains serving the region but only two subway lines within the city limits). Suburban sprawl is a major problem here as well, especially in Montgomery and Chester Counties where bad land use policies are pushing development farther and farther out into Berks and even Lancaster Counties.
As for its people, any large city has a mix of folks who aren't the brightest or are closed-minded. I don't hold that against Philadelphia because I've lived and have visited other cities that have a more "progressive" reputation that feature the same mix of people. The city holds fast and true to traditions and is generally more conservative than people think given the tendency for this city to vote for Democrats at a 4:1 clip. Provincialism reigns supreme here and people are not apt to travel north of Market Street if they live south of it (or west of the Schuylkill River if they live east of it). People identify less with Philadelphia than with the neighborhood they live in. They are good people though; a bit less fake friendly than other cities but they are helpful if you need anything. Yes, there are rude people who spout off some "attytood" when they are bumped but every other major city like Chicago, LA, New York, etc. have them as well.
The best comparison city to Philadelphia is probably Chicago -- close-knit neighborhoods, strong ethnic heritage, government corruption, old-boys network, with a less pro-business environment and a milder winter thrown in. If you want a liberal, progressive enclave, Philadelphia is not Seattle or Boston. If you want efficient government, this isn't the town for you. If you want a city with generally good people on the whole and a city that brings a vibrant cultural experience that is located close to NY, DC, and other big East Coast cities while being affordable in comparison then this definitely is a place to consider moving to.