Philadelphia! Paris of the East Coast, or a toilet bowl?
Philadelphia has a perception problem. I blame W. C. Fields.
Well, no. I blame de-industrialization and pro-suburban governmental, financial, and infrastructural policies following World War II. Same effect.
When I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs of the 1990s, my personal perception of Philadelphia (as instilled by popular culture and the evening news) was that it contained three locations:
- Veterans Stadium
- The Franklin Institute
- Places Where You Could Get Stabbed For Your Sneakers
In terms of its reputation in the rest of the country, Philadelphia was perceived as the end of Earth -- a dirty, litter and graffiti choked nightmare where people spent their time alternately booing the Eagles, dodging muggers, and huddling around drum fires in front of the unemployment office.
Despite all of this, I moved into Philadelphia proper in 2002 and I've lived here ever since. And I love it. Yes, there are still awful neighborhoods with incredible crime and drug problems, but there are also many wonderful neighborhoods that are eminently livable, an outstanding restaurant scene, a thriving culture, a great music scene, and yes, Virginia, a healthy and rapidly growing tech scene.
The Philadelphia of 2012 is better than the Philadelphia of 2002, which itself was immeasurably better from the Philadelphia of 1992. But when it comes to evaluating this city (or more specifically, the general perception of this city), let's face it, I might have Stockholm Syndrome. I've lived here my entire adult life. When I visited San Francisco and was led through the Tenderloin, all I could think of was "That's it!?! That's your "bad" neighborhood?" I really can't judge this stuff impartially.
So I'm letting the Reckonauts judge the state of the city today. Tell me folks, fellow Philadelphians and Reckonauts from all over the world: do you view Philadelphia as a good place to live? Or is it still a large, swirling, Santa-booing toilet bowl?