The Reckoner!

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:

  1. Veterans Stadium
  2. The Franklin Institute
  3. 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?

Reckoning Results!
Nice City!
Toilet Bowl!
I could make a go of it!
Ben Franklin weeps!
Previous Reckoning!
Should I fire my contractor?
Next Reckoning!
Dishwasher Challenge! Do you put the utensils in with the business end up or down?

Reckoning Comments!

You know what else is better in 2012 than it was in 2002, and way better than it was in 1992?  The Phillies.  

*crosses fingers so tightly they begin to bleed*

But to put more explanation into this -- I do sincerely love this city, to the point where it physically pains me when it gets used as a target for easy punchlines.

Yes, the public transit system is not great.  Yes, the city is not particularly clean (although it's vastly better than where it was ten years ago).  Yes, the January murder count was embarassingly high.  Yes, the fans at Franklin Field booed Santa Claus once in 1968.  There's something in the culture that wants to view this town in a negative light -- to focus on the negatives that sprung out of fifty years of post-industrial neglect as opposed to the positives that were always here, and grow greater and more salient with each passing year.

I've lived here ten years and I've never once been the victim of a violent crime.  There isn't enough wood to knock on in my entire house to counteract typing that, but there it is.  Yet still, even if I was mugged tomorrow, that's not the city of Philadelphia mugging me.  That's a mugger mugging me.  I hope I'm mindful of the distinction should it ever happen.

Are you kidding!?!?  Philly is Phantastic.  'Nuff Said.

I admit I talked a lot of @#!% about Philly while I lived there, but have since realized I was actually talking a lot of @#!% about myself, who happened to live in Philly.  I have a strong affection for the place now, even though I don't visit nearly often enough.

I love Philly, but honestly, aren't most of your thumbs up voters from...


P.S. Paris? No way in hell. 

@Kathy Ridge

Frankly, the fact that most of our voters are from the Philadelphia area led me to believe that 'Toilet Bowl' would win easily.  Our feelings towards Philly can sometimes be like our feelings to ol' Veterans Stadium -- it's a toilet bowl, but it's our toilet bowl.

@James--I have a solution! Visit more!

Every negative thing you can say about Philly is five times as bad in NYC.  So if Philly were a toilet bowl, NYC would have to be a sewer.

As an aside, toilet bowls are often cleaner and have less germs than kitchen sinks.  They get cleaned with bleach, after all.

As for Paris: I've been there, and I wasn't that impressed.  Granted I never got the chance to visit Versailles or the Louvre, but the first thing I noticed on the cab ride from the airport was all the graffiti...  which didn't look all that different to me from the graffiti in NYC. 

The Reckoner!