Show us your town: Philadelphia

Show us your town: Philadelphia

Explore its rich history, vibrant arts, and culinary scenes, and find out why nearly 3,000 alumni love calling the region home.

Jessica Rose '16

Jessica Rose ’16

“We all love the Liberty Bell, our sports teams, and cheesesteaks, but Philadelphia is so much more,” says Jessica Rose ’16, a pediatric nurse practitioner who lives in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood.

“You’ll find fantastic food, art, and culture; loads of history and people proud of it; neighborhoods full of interesting people; and tons of green space, despite being a very urban place.”

If you have a chance to explore the city, here are a few of Rose’s recommendations—almost all in or within a short distance from Philly’s Center City.

Art and culture

A must for Rose is 🅐 Mural Arts Philadelphia (128 N. Broad St), the world’s largest outdoor art gallery and the country’s oldest program of its kind. She suggests taking a guided tour to learn the city’s visual history. Be sure also to visit the 🅑 Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.), known as the cultural heart of the city (and for the Rocky Steps and the nearby Rocky statue).

For music, dance, and theatre buffs, Rose recommends the one-of-kind 🅒 Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (300 S. Broad St.) and the 🅓 Walnut Street Theatre (825 Walnut St.)—the oldest continuously operating playhouse in the United States.

Alleys and architecture

Rose says there’s no better way to experience Philadelphia than on foot. Wander the many hidden brick and cobblestone alleys of 🅔 Old City and 🅕 Society Hill; take a walking tour to learn the stories—and even the secrets—of the homes and their residents; or visit the 🅖 Betsy Ross House (239 Arch St.) where the nation’s most famous seamstress is long said to have stitched the country’s first flag. Have time for just one destination? Rose recommends 🅗 Elfreth’s Alley, the nation’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street and home to 18th-century artisans and tradespeople.

Iconic history

Of course, a must-visit is 🅘 Independence Hall (520 Chestnut St.), where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed (look for George Washington’s inkstand and chair). Rose also recommends a stroll across Independence Mall to the 🅙 Liberty Bell.

Gardens and parks

The Pennsylvania Historical Society offers 🅚 Pop-Up Gardens, great places to kick back and enjoy food and beer from some of the city’s best restaurants. Rose frequents the one at 1438 South Street. For a different experience, enjoy a hike and relax by the ancient 🅛 Schuylkill River (pronounced SKOO-kil). On its west bank, south of Center City, is Bartram’s Garden (5400 Lindbergh Blvd.), the country’s oldest botanical spot of its kind, and accessible by trolley. Be sure also to spend time at its Sankofa Community

Farm, a crop farm rooted in the African Diaspora. Rose notes that Philly, a city of about 10,000 acres, has more than 100 parks. Her favorite is Fairmount Park, an urban oasis north of the art museum and extending to both sides of the Schuylkill River.

Philly fare and other fine food

Founded in 1893, 🅜 Reading Terminal Market (1136 Arch St.) is one of Rose’s favorite places. Reading offers food from around the world, arts, crafts, books, flowers, clothing, and just about everything else. Grab a donut at Beiler’s Bakery, a cheesesteak at DiNic’s, or some delicious food at the Little Thai Market. Venture beyond the market to 🅝 Zahav (237 St. James Pl.) for authentic Israeli flavors (make a reservation, says Rose); 🅞 Vedge (1221 Locust St.), where Rose’s favorite is the sweet potato pâté; 🅟 Continental Midtown (1801 Chestnut St.) to sip a cocktail on its rooftop deck; 🅠 Dirty Franks (347 S. 13th St.), a dive bar and Philly institution; and Philly Pretzel Factory, at locations around the city.

Meet your guide

Jessica Rose ’16
Pediatric nurse practitioner, Center City Pediatrics

Rose was born at Pennsylvania Hospital—the country’s first hospital—when her father was doing his medical residency in Philadelphia. When it came time to choose a college, Rochester was an easy choice: her grandmother, two aunts, two uncles, and a cousin all graduated from the University. Rose majored in psychology, became a Student Alumni Ambassador, a member of the Bhangra and Ballet Performance groups, an orientation volunteer, and studied abroad in Denmark. She’s the chair of the College’s Young Alumni Council, a member of the Philadelphia Network Leadership Council, and a former member of her reunion committee. Rochester, she says, is her hobby. She’s a big sports buff, too, and although she’ll cheer on the Eagles, she’s a forever fan of the Buffalo Bills.

A map of Philadelphia’s urban layout, influenced by William Penn

Mapping Philadelphia Philadelphia’s urban layout, influenced by William Penn’s visionary plan, features a gridiron street pattern adorned with tree-lined boulevards. A large park, fountain, and City Hall mark its center. Philadelphia’s four squares—Franklin, Logan, Washington, and Rittenhouse—extend from the center making it easy to navigate.

Regional networks and you

Based in metropolitan and geographic areas across the United States and internationally, the University’s regional networks—including the one in Philadelphia—organize social events, networking opportunities, and community service projects for alumni, parents, students, and friends close to home. Learn more about our regional networks and get involved.

—Kristine Kappel Thompson, Rochester Review, Fall 2023

Colin Lenton/AP Images