Learn more about this great destination and what it has to offer. Choose a section below for information on the area, including history and transportation details.
The first thing visitors discover about Philadelphia is that it's a walking town. You'll find most places are within a mile of
Start your visit with the neighborhood around
North of Market Street is Old City, which is Philadelphia's version of New York's Soho, with wonderful restaurants like
East of Old City, along the Delaware River, Penn's Landing is a backdrop for outdoor festivals and free summer concerts, as well as fireworks on holidays. Or you can take a ferry across the river to the aquarium. In the summer, open-air clubs north of the Ben Franklin Bridge (such as
West of Old City, between 8th and 13th Streets, is Chinatown. These days Chinatown is about half Chinese and half a combination of Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Burmese and Pan-Asian, and rivals any Chinatown in the country. It's also home to the
On the west end of Center City is the fashionable
Avenue of the Arts
Broad Street, south of City Hall, is the Avenue of the Arts. The orchestra, the
This is where rich Italian history and new communities of Vietnamese and Thai are just the tips of the iceberg when it comes to great dining.
Across the Schuykill River in West Philly, the
And north of Old City, this is the "new frontier" of the hip scene. The
When the American colonies were founded in the 1600s, the guiding principle for the New England colonies was freedom to practice religions not popular in England; for the southern colonies the aim was agricultural development extending the holdings of British landowners. There were two exceptions. New York, established by Dutch companies, has always been a place for trade. The other exception was Pennsylvania, and the town of Philadelphia.
William Penn (1644-1718) arrived in 1681 from a London that had recently burned and was just discovering sanitary plumbing. He wanted Philadelphia to be "a green country Town, which will never be burnt, and always be wholesome." Founded on Quaker principles of tolerance and harmonious living, Philadelphia had a religious foundation like its New England neighbors, but welcomed other beliefs and races. Like its southern neighbors, it started with an agricultural economy, but slave auctions were banned early. A community of ex-slaves grew, centered around the
Instead of sprawling mindlessly, streets were laid out on a grid system with five public squares (the present day
Of course, when you invite everyone in, there's the likelihood of disagreement. By 1690, scarcely nine years after the first Quaker Meeting House went up, arguments over the direction of the city had turned into formal ideologies. Philadelphians have been arguing ever since.
Penn had originally envisioned his colony as a "wholesome" farming community, but the port quickly became one of the most important trading spots in America, rivaled only by New York. The rising merchant class wasn't terribly interested in the simple Quaker lifestyle. Pubs, theaters, circuses, dances and races soon entered the scene. The tolerant attitude attracted many immigrants. British Quakers were followed by German immigrants as early as the 1690s.
In 1723, Benjamin Franklin arrived from Boston. He eventually started his own
The city is filled with reminders of the colonial period.
In 1800, the nation's capital moved to Washington, DC. New York began to overshadow Philadelphia as a financial and cultural center. Also in the 1800s, Irish, Polish and Italian immigrants came in waves, drawn by employment on massive projects like the new turnpike system, the canals and the railroad. Coal mining upstate created more jobs and the coal provided steam power for the factories of the Industrial Revolution that made Philadelphia a major manufacturing center. The Centennial Exhibition of 1876 brought 100,000 people to Fairmount Park to see the wonders of industrialism.
By the end of World War II, things were looking up again. While heavy industries moved out, the economy stayed robust. Always known for its hospitals, medical schools and research facilities, Philadelphia is now leading bioengineering research and development, and the city has become a popular film location thanks to innovators like M. Night Shyamalan.
The Philadelphia of the present has achieved what previous generations had thought impossible: New Yorkers come for a quick visit, fall in love, and decide to look for a house, hearkening back to the year 1776, when Congressional delegates were bowled over by the quality and comfort of this city.
Philadelphia International Airport ( PHL )
PHL is seven miles from downtown Philadelphia.
Air Jamaica (+1 800 523 5585/ http://www.airjamaica.com )
Air Canada ( +1 800 776 3000/ http://www.aircanada.ca )
Air France ( +1 800 871 1366/ http://www.airfrance.com )
British Airways ( +1 800 247 9297/ http://www.british-airways.com )
Delta ( +1 800 221 1212/ http://www.delta.com )
Lufthansa ( +1 800 645 3880/ http://www.lufthansa.com )
Southwest ( +1 800 435 9792/ http://www.southwest.com )
United ( +1 800 241 6522/ http://www.ual.com )
US Airways ( +1 800 428 4322/ http://www.usairways.com )
Airport Map & Information: http://www.airguideonline.com/WIDirports/WIDirport_phl.htm
Airport Services: http://www.airguideonline.com/WIDirports/WIDirport_phl2.htm
Airport Transportation: http://www.airguideonline.com/WIDirports/WIDirport_phl3.htm
From the Airport
Car Rental: Alamo ( +1 800 327 9633/ http://www.alamo.com )
Avis ( +1 800 831 2847/ http://www.avis.com )
Budget ( +1 800 527 0700/ http://www.budget.com )
Dollar ( +1 800 4000/ http://www.dollar.com )
Hertz ( +1 800 654 3131/ http://www.hertz.com)
National ( +1 800227 7368/ http://www.nationalcar.com )
Payless (+1 800 729 5377/ http://www.paylesscarrental.com)
Another attractive ground transportation option is Zipcar, which operates in certain U.S. cities. This new breed of rental car allows you to rent on an hourly basis rather than a daily basis. Be sure to register online before your trip. Zipcar (+1 866 494 7227 / http://www.zipcar.com)
For reliable car hire service in and around the city, contact A&C Transport Car service. (+1 609 573 5163/ http://www.actransportonline.com)
Amtrak services Philadelphia daily ( +1 800 872 7245; in PA +1 800 562 6960/ http://www.amtrak.com ) and is located on 30th Street.
Greyhound ( +1 800 231 2222/ http://www.greyhound.com ) accesses Philadelphia daily.
Philadelphia can be reached from any direction on I-95 and I-76.
This was the first major city to be designed on a grid system, which means that directions make sense: You can walk from the east end of Market Street to the west end in a straight line. The streets running north to south are numbered from two to 69. On-street parking is generally limited to two hours and some streets have their own peculiar restrictions, so read the signs carefully. There is a lot of construction and street repair going on, but generally these are small projects that only disrupt the traffic flow for a few days at a time in any one spot. There are ample parking garages with rates lower than New York and discounts for all-day parking. The local public transportation, SEPTA, has routes that cover the whole region, including a light rail from the airport. SEPTA passes are available at day, weekly or monthly rates. Cab drivers here are as peculiar as they are anywhere, but they are all licensed and generally very reliable. In Center City, the wait for a cab should be no more than five minutes.
SEPTA - Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is in charge of the metro area. The High Speed Rail Line costs $5.50 one way and serves five downtown locations. It also runs to the Amtrak station and Greyhound bus terminal (+1 215 580 7800/ http://www.septa.org/). SEPTA also operates a local bus and subway system and both the Owl bus and subway run 24 hours a day.
There is a $20 flat rate on cabs to Center City Philadelphia. A few of the cab companies include:
Academy (+1 215 333 1111)
Airport Express (+1 215 651 7757/http://www.magicyellow.com/)
Avistar Avistar (+1 800 763 6845/ http://www.pnfnetwork.com/)
PHL Taxi (+1 800 936 5111)
City Cab Co. (+1 215 492 6500)
A.C. Taxi and Blue Car Service ( +1 609 645 2583/ http://www.acblue.com/ ) offers a variety of transportation needs with a fleet of taxis, minivans and stretch limos. Service is offered to Atlantic City (one hour) and New York (two hours). One day prearranged reservation via phone or email for pickup in Philadelphia or New York City.
Atlantic City Airport Taxi & Lou's Luxury Car Service (+1 609 383 1457/ http://www.limolou.com/) serves riders to and from Atlantic City to the region's major airports, Philadelphia, New Jersey and southern New York.
For up-to-date traffic information, go to: http://www.traffic.com/Philadelphia-Traffic/Philadelphia-Traffic-Reports.html
If traveling overseas, take the safety precaution of registering your trip at https://travelregistration.state.gov and for helpful, practical advice about traveling technicalities and safety standards check out http://travel.state.gov/ .
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., is not responsible or liable for any errors or inaccuracies with respect to the information contained on this page.
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