Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
The City of Brotherly Love, Birthplace of American Democracy, Quaker City, Cradle of Liberty. Philadelphia seemingly has more monikers than it does cheesesteak shops. But it could as easily be called the City of Art with its Parkway Museum District of top cultural institutions or the Culinary Crossroads owing to its high profile restaurant scene. Such is the city’s multidimensional abundance.
Compared to nearby big city neighbors New York and Washington, D.C., Philadelphia pairs such cultural offerings with a low cost of living.
Philadelphians enjoy a walkable downtown and 205 miles of bicycle lanes. Green spaces are a prominent part of the landscape. City founder William Penn envisioned Philadelphia as a “greene country towne” with public squares that have evolved with the neighborhoods that surround them.
The Philadelphia of today retains much of its patina with the largest collection of 18th and 19th century homes of any U.S. city. More than 500 buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is the only UNESCO World Heritage city in the country. Rowhouses were built and designed for every budget and class, from simple “trinity” or band-box buildings to elaborate Federal or Georgian townhouse mansions. Modern loft conversions and amenity-filled condominium towers have been altering the traditional streetscape, and more developments are in the pipeline.
Many elite neighborhoods are clustered around city squares. Rittenhouse Square is the city’s most exclusive with extraordinary residential properties in an area of exclusive shopping and dining. The most expensive homes are on or close to the square. Fitler Square is another fashionable district, virtually all residential with excellent schools and quiet tree-lined streets. Washington Square, like Rittenhouse, was of Penn’s five original squares. It is a sought-after locale of narrow cobblestone streets and colonial architecture with a lively social scene. Society Hill is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, a beneficiary of a mid-20th century preservation movement that saved a number of historic rowhouses from demolition. The neighborhood revitalization plan also included construction of a complex called Society Hills Towers designed by celebrated architect I.M. Pei and completed in 1963. Juxtaposed against the centuries-old streets, the buildings are considered a modernist landmark.