Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’
Welcome to Philly. You know, Philly. Philly? Like, Philadelphia? You mean that place where the Founding Fathers signed those documents that started the modern day United States of America? That place where they make really greasy fake steak sandwiches with cheese sauce that for some reason are famous? Ah, but of course….Philly!
Poor Philadelphia. Located anywhere else, it may in fact be considered a great city—an esteemed tourist attraction garnering attention from far and wide. I mean, surely it has more to offer than places like Dallas or Houston, right? And yet Philly often finds itself playing the role of red-headed stepchild…occasionally paid attention to only because you can’t avoid it, but typically shunned in favor of the taller, prettier, more charming siblings.
If Philadelphia were in Texas, its image would be a lot different. Unfortunately, it rests just about 90 miles (150 kilometers) from New York City to the north, and about 150 miles (240 kilometers) from Washington, D.C. to the south. As a result, it is often overlooked, because it has the same grime and grit that plagues some of its more well-known neighbors, but without quite as much charm.
Philly has a nice art museum (Rocky steps, anyone?). And some world-class universities (UPenn is among the world’s best). It has luscious green parks, a strong sporting tradition, and eclectic ethnic neighborhoods. A walk through the traditional Italian section of Philly south of downtown (which is bigger than NYC’s Little Italy if you’re keeping track), will send you back to the early 1900s, when an estimated 600,000 Italians called this place home.
Unfortunately, as nice as some of these things are, they aren’t differentiated enough from what Big Brother 90 miles to the north has to offer. Art museums? Check. World class universities? Check. Green parks, sports and eclectic, melting pot neighborhoods? Check. As for the more famous Little Brother to the south, well, Philly was once the Capitol of the United States, but that was before it was a global superpower. So only DC has been able to bill itself the “most powerful city in the world.” (perhaps for a few more years, anyway).
And while NYC and DC have their share of problems with crime, occasionally corrupt governments, and the like, well….these things happen just as much in Philly.
As the fourth-largest city in the U.S., trailing only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, Philly is surely deserving of a bigger name than it currently has. Perhaps we should just pack it up and ship it Midwest, and then you may see Philly popping up on some more tourist agendas :).
Washington, D.C. is famous around the world, and it is known for anything but culture. People come here to see “the most powerful city in the world,” the White House, and monuments upon monuments—usually constructed in honor of political figures. The city is synonymous with politics, with the museums of The Smithsonian being the only exposure to anything that can be considered “cultural” that most visitors are exposed to.
But away from the steps of the United States Capitol building and the National Mall, Washington, D.C. has a unique culture all its own, with a history as rich as any other city in America. With a predominantly African-American population, Chocolate City (as it is known to some locals) has been a hub of musical creativity, Civil Rights activism, and culinary prowess for well over 100 years. To experience this first-hand, get away from the Tourmobile and check out some of these sights and sounds that you may not know as much about:
- U Street Corridor: Once the rival to New York City’s Harlem in terms of cultural influence and significance, U Street was a hub of Civil Rights activism in the mid-1900s and today hosts a thriving social scene full of bars and restaurants.
- Adams-Morgan: By night a popular nightlife spot, particularly among younger crowds, by day Adams-Morgan plays host to an eclectic collection of restaurants offering just about any kind of cuisine that can be found on earth.
- Eastern Market: A bustling market since 1873, Eastern Market today still plays host to a variety of food and crafts vendors, artists and the occasional musician—weekends only.
- Dupont Circle: The hub of Washington’s thriving gay community, the neighborhood surrounding this large traffic circle hosts a diverse variety of cafes, restaurants and night spots despite being adjacent to the city’s primary business district.
- Georgetown: Like nearby Dupont, this neighborhood is home to cafes, restaurants, but also hosts a major university, lots of shopping, and charming cobblestone streets and majestic homes.
My ID: 14 October 1979; Fairfax Hospital; Falls Church, VA
My Initial Descent into the East Coast was certainly unique among all of my Initial Descents, because it was also my Initial Descent into Earth.
I was born in northern Virginia, smack dab in the middle of the East Coast. I don’t think anyone can honestly say they remember any details about their first few years, and the same goes for me. But according to the Baby Book my parents were so thoughtful to keep, it seems as though my first impressions of life on the East Coast were good—enough food, candy, cartoons, playgrounds and friendly neighbors to keep any kid happy.
But when it comes to the Initial Descent spirit of tracking people’s first impressions of a culture and the people they encounter within it, you’ll have to ask someone else when it comes to the East Coast. Or better yet, share your story—we’d love to hear it!