People who only know a little bit about Philadelphia are probably most familiar with the city’s crime rates, specifically, um, the murder rate.
People who know a little more may know that beloved companies like CIGNA, Comcast, Sunoco, Aramark and Rohm & Haas call Philly home. They also may have heard the words “corruption” and “blight” tossed around once or twice.
But really Philly has a lot to offer aside from cheesesteaks, homicide, Rocky and shady dealings. We’ve got the largest Rodin collection outside of Paris, a recently expanded “Avenue of the Arts,” along with one of the largest art museums in the United States. The city’s also served as muse and hometown to Joan Jett, Chubby Checker, John Coltrane, and Tina Fey! So… there?
Last Friday I met my friend Tammy (Tamara to her grown up friends) in Philadelphia for Old City’s First Friday events. Old City is an adorable section of Philly filled with art galleries, small boutiques and great restaurants, and everything in the area opens its doors to celebrate the first Friday of every month. As the first warm night in quite a while, May’s First Friday was especially glorious.
When I got off the subway I immediately ran into a little blond girl covered in strawberry ice cream and a tall woman in her 20s walking briskly down the street smoking a cigar as if that was a totally normal thing to do. EVERYONE was out in the streets: all the restaurants had dragged tables outside and street-level gyms opened all their windows so that scantily clad weight-lifters could alternate between showing off and flirting with passers-by. When I reached 4th and Race, Tammy and her friends Steve and Ellen were milling about on a corner outside a gallery that was just closing, so we wandered down 4th towards South Street to find some dinner, checking out the banjo players and street displays along the way. AWESOME.
For those not familiar with South Street:
Over falafel and shawarma, I learned a little bit more about my new friends. Stephen moved to Philadelphia 2 years ago from Savannah, GA and has studio space in a part of the city called Fishtown, where he runs his company, Haley Trikes. Steve originally designed trikes, also known as “cargo tricycles,” to move his drumset around town, but he started getting orders from people who wanted to use them for alllll kinds of cargo, unofficially including children and (my personal favorite) warm cookies. That’s just adorable, stop it.
Ellen and Tammy both work far too many hours at far too many far too fun-sounding jobs. For example, we couldn’t stay out too late on Friday because Ellen had to drive up to New York at 6am the next morning to work as a face-painting performance-art-clown with Peanutbutter Face Painting and Body Decoration at the Tribeca Film Festival. What??? I am jealous.
After dinner, Ellen and Steve rode back to Fishtown on a tandem bicycle, Tammy went salsa dancing with a friend from the Mural Arts Program where she works, and I got back on the subway going home in a surreal spring evening daze.
Thanks for the fun night Tam!! I dedicate this song to you: