Essays » Philadelphia, the Place That Loves You Back
What does it mean if a place loves you back? That was the question posed by the 1997 tourism slogan, “The Place That Loves You Back.” This was of course not the Philadelphia's first attempt to sell itself as a tourist destination, but it marked a departure from previous attempts focused on historically significant artifacts in Center City.
American Bandstand (1952-89) was a massively popular music television program with strong Philadelphia roots, storied national success, and the power to shape the music industry and society. Particularly during the show’s prime Philadelphia years (1952-63), Philadelphia youth culture became American culture through American Bandstand.
Modeled after the Crystal Palace Great Exhibition in London, and the first in a long line of major world’s fairs in the United States, the Centennial Exhibition in 1876 exhibited national pride and belief in the importance of education and progress through industrial innovation.
A cheesesteak is a sandwich unlike any John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792), might have encountered. Thin bits of frizzled beef served on a locally-made Italian roll, usually topped with fried onions and Cheez Whiz drawn from the can with a paint stirrer, the Philly cheesesteak also is distinguished, in part, by its place in presidential politics.
Local children’s programming in the Philadelphia area flourished during the “Golden Age of Television,” from the rise of commercial broadcasting after World War II to the early 1970s. During its heyday the hosted children’s show was a mainstay of locally produced programming.
As a cause for commemoration, the signing of the U.S. Constitution historically has struggled to compete with the Declaration of Independence for national recognition and ardor. In Philadelphia, the site of the Constitutional Convention, commemoration of the document’s major anniversaries has reflected how regard for the Constitution and its connections to the city have evolved over time.
Nestled between Second Street and the Delaware River, thirty-two Federal and Georgian residences stand as reminders of the early days of Philadelphia. Elfreth's Alley exists today as a residential street, historic landmark, and interpreted site labeled the “Nation’s Oldest Residential Street.” The heroic efforts of residents and local historians from the 1930s to 1960s preserved the Alley as a typical colonial street, but it took decades of new scholarship for the Elfreth’s Alley Association to create an interpretation encompassing the everyday lives of all generations who lived on this street.
Originally the Pennsylvania State House, this eighteenth-century landmark associated with the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution evolved from a workplace of government to a treasured shrine, tourist attraction, and World Heritage Site. Its history encompasses more than 275 years of struggles for freedom and public participation in creating, preserving, and debating the founding principles of the United States.
Encompassing fifty-four acres in Center City Philadelphia, Independence National Historical Park preserves and provides access to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and other sites associated with the American Revolution and early American history
It began inconspicuously as a two-thousand-pound mass of unstable metal; it nearly ended up in the scrap heap; it cracked and lost its voice; it was all but forgotten. But then, gradually, it became a priceless national treasure. For more than a century, the Liberty Bell has captured Americans’ affections and become a stand-in for the nation’s vaunted values: independence, freedom, unalienable rights, and equality.
Soft pretzels are to Philadelphia as crepes are to Paris. Both are icons of their respective cities, but one goes better with Nutella and the other with mustard. With cheesesteaks and water ice, soft pretzels complete the city's culinary trifecta.