SkyscraperCity Forum banner
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 30 Posts

22,603 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
the u.s. olympic committee is in philadelphia looking around to see if philly would be able to get the city ready if they get the olympic bid. it's not an official visit for the u.s. nomination, but this wil determine how ready the city is.

one thing i especially like about the bid is that delaware has a very good chance of hosting some sport if philly were to get the olympics. an olympic event being held in delaware? not bad for a state that's the butt of many jokes.

here are some articles on philly's potential bid for the 2016 olympics.

Olympics 2016: It's a chance to dream

BILLY PAYNE told the story about how he first floated the then-preposterous idea of bringing the Summer Olympics to Atlanta. Sitting in a restaurant in Aspen, Colo., across the table from a business partner, he mentioned his idea.

"Sure thing, Billy," his friend said. "Have another beer."

Eleven or so years later, in 1996, they no doubt were toasting Payne's energy and vision to what has become the last Summer Games to be held on American soil. With that history as a backdrop, a delegation from the United States Olympic Committee comes calling on Philadelphia today. It's part of a five-city visit that began with Houston yesterday and continues in Chicago tomorrow, with a West Coast swing through San Francisco and Los Angeles next week.

For those excited by the possibility of the region putting its hand up for the grandest of all international events, it's a chance to dream about a day that few American cities have experienced. Only four Summer Games have been held in this country: 1904 in St. Louis, 1932 and 1984 in Los Angeles, and those Atlanta Games 10 years ago.

It's also a watershed moment for Joe Torsella and his working panel, who have been assessing the region's strengths and commitment since last spring. To almost all they've been a shadow, conducting their business quietly at the request of the USOC.

Today, they get their first shot in the sun in what will be a private, 2-hour afternoon meeting at an unannounced site. That will be followed by a press briefing and rally at 5:30 in Love Park, which should provide some specifics about what's next in the process for the city. Leading the USOC party will be Peter Ueberroth, the organization's new chairman, who's best known for making a $250 million profit at the LA Games in '84 before successfully moving into the job of baseball commissioner. USOC president Jim Scherr and vice president, international Bob Ctvrtlik will join him. Although the briefing will be public, the landing won't be: There's a USOC ban on any airport welcomes.

Mayor Street will lead what likely will be a 10-person group, gathered from the public and private sector, including at least one Olympian from the region. They will make a presentation, no doubt pitching everything from the facilities (the sports complex and Fairmount Park) to the recent successes handling highly publicized events (Live 8 last summer and the Republican National Convention in 2000).

But they won't have to worry about filling the entire 2-hour session because USOC is going to lay out its guidelines for bid cities. The USOC is looking for partners in the broadest sense, and that's part of the message it will bring. It expects cities not only to have the necessary infrastructure, but also the willingness to adopt a united front among city, county, state and federal officials, plus a strong working relationship with the USOC.

USOC is delivering this same message to leaders from all five cities.

After visiting the five cities, USOC will spend an unspecified amount of time deciding whether to bid for 2016. That could be a few weeks or several months. USOC could select a couple of cities and let those compete, as it has done in the past, or simply land on one.

"It will not bear any semblance to the past system," Ueberroth said last night, speaking from Houston. "Not that it was bad. We've just decided to do it differently."

Something new is what best describes Philadelphia's interest in making a bid. In addition to LA holding two Olympics, Houston and San Francisco both were involved in the bidding for the 2012 Games. San Francisco finished runner-up for the national bid to New York, which seems to be on the outside looking in on this process.

Meanwhile, this region will take its first crack at the Games in decades, since John B. Kelly reportedly assembled a modest proposal for the 1948 Games. And, indeed, you can see why local supporters are confident the Games of the XXXI Olympiad could be more than a pipe dream:

• Let's play ball: Who can argue with a region where so much is already in place? The sports complex offers a great opportunity to consolidate, and the Navy Yard offers the kinds of acreage that could handle an Olympic Village and track and field stadium. Then there's Franklin Field and the Palestra, a number of universities with new facilities, plus the Convention Center and Fairmount Park. And what better test of an Olympic cyclist or triathlete than the Manayunk Wall?

• A TV network's dream: With sites recently in Nagano, Sydney, Athens and Turin, and bound for Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012, Olympics viewers have learned to do two things: Buy TiVo or learn to enjoy events on taped delay. An East Coast venue would do wonders for live TV and a subsequently bigger audience.

• Tolerable summers: OK, so the temperature does occasionally creep into the 90s. But what's the last hot spell you remember? Overall, you can't argue with a climate that's accommodating to everything from soccer to cycling to track and field.

• Great track record: OK, it's not quite on the grand scale of the Olympics, but supporters obviously were cheered by the overall grades the city received for handling Live 8 and the Republican National Convention. Both serve as a springboard to this interest in a bid for the Summer Games.

• It's Philly's time: With the 2012 Games going to London and the 2020 and the 2024 Games seemingly bound for cities in Africa and South America, the 2016 Games seem to be the USA's to lose.

New York is pretty much out of the running. So is Baltimore-Washington. That leaves this region, at least on paper, holding up well against the other interested cities. Survey the region 10 years ago and you'd probably find a majority, ahem, standing around dousing any passion for the flame with multiple reasons why this city shouldn't bid. Ten years from now, that might be the case again. But the survey commissioned by Torsella's panel last year, which found 83 percent of the respondents in favor of making a bid, seems to indicate a swell of optimism that runs counter to the perceived general demeanor of the populace.

Payne talked about the same skepticism he encountered in Atlanta as he singlehandedly created the momentum that led to that bid. It was a nonstop effort that put a dent in his health (he had a triple bypass in 1993) but not his sense of humor. He told doctors he'd stop showing up at work at 4 in the morning; instead he promised to arrive at 5.

"Guess that means about seven more heart surgeries from now," he told Sports Illustrated back then, "I'll be workin' a normal day."

Yo! We do things the Philly way

THE U.S. OLYMPIC Committee meets with Philadelphia officials today to talk about the conditions the city must meet if we're to have a shot at hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics.

I say we dive through every hoop the committee flings in the air, since hosting the games would be one of the coolest things this city has ever done.

(Not to mention that I could make $10,000 renting my rowhouse to out-of-towners. Sweet.) Think of the international profile the games would bring our humble town - the sophistication and prestige!

Of course, it would also bring traffic detours of galactic proportions. And construction nightmares for years prior to the first javelin throw.

And - eek! - foreigners.

Still, these are leapable hurdles, so long as we envision this thing as Live 8 to the 100th power and gear up accordingly.

It's the unanticipated problems, though, that worry me - the kind that arise when outsiders' expectations bump against the realities of Philly's small-town quirks and indictment-worthy traditions.

Herewith, then, is a short list of conditions that Philly ought to require the U.S. Olympic Committee to meet, if we're to collaborate successfully in pulling off this athletic block party.

We honor the pay-to-play system. Contractors should pad their bids accordingly.

Save yourselves the shock, the outrage and the eventual phone call to the feds when you suspect that money intended to build an indoor Olympic cycling track has also paid for a pol's in-ground pool at the Jersey shore. You call it theft? We call it the Philly Tax. Contractors can save everybody a lot of trouble if they just build it into their cost estimates.

Advise all Olympics personnel directors that we support job patronage in all forms.

Philadelphia's layabout siblings, hottie mistresses and no-show employees pine for a decent paycheck as much as little Kimmie Meissner yearned for the gold in Torino. Your participation in the 2016 Olympic Games will "help us help them."

We don't like to bring up the MOVE thing, and we'd appreciate it if you wouldn't, either.

At some point, a key Olympic stakeholder will note worriedly, "Whoa, whoa, whoa - hold on a sec! Isn't Philly the city that dropped a bomb on a neighborhood and burned it to the ground?" Please, that is so 1985. Get over it. We have.

We have no "celebrity scene," so bring your own.

In this town, a brush with fabulousness means you saw an Action News meteorologist buying soft-pretzel bites at the Franklin Mills movie-plex. (By 2016, though, Donald Trump may have built a high-glamour slots parlor here, so Carrot Top sightings could be commonplace.)

The Philly accent is no worse than the Big Apple's.

We flatten our vowels, mangle our pronunciations, and when we talk, it sounds like we're forming the words around a mouthful of turkey sandwich. When New Yorkers talk this way, they're considered "charming." When we do, we're considered "stupid." If you cut us a break on this, we'll be so grateful, we won't bore you with tales of how we were an extra in Rocky VI.

Please get it straight: It's not the heat, it's the humidity.

And it's going to make Philly's outdoors Olympics events a living hell. If global warming worsens between now and 2016, we predict wet and toasty on the playing fields that summer, with scattered heatstroke in the stands. Double-pack the Igloo.

Of course, I jest. A little.

The truth is, hosting the Olympics could be a pain, and - this being Philly - it might not come off without at least one smack-your-forehead-in-frustration moment that embarrasses us on the world stage.

Remember the July 4th near-beheading of Sandra Day O'Connor by that falling beam at the National Constitution Center?

But, if the U.S. Olympic Committee does pick us - and if Philadelphia promises to build an entire Olympic Village without coming to blows over the installation of no-flush urinals - the 2016 Summer Olympics could be an extravaganza that does us all proud.

Who knows? I may even stay in town for the games - or at least long enough to help my fleeced houseguests figure out how to work the bedroom air-conditioner.


PETER V. UEBERROTH need look no further.

Philadelphia is the ideal city to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Ueberroth, chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and other USOC representatives are expected in town today. They will spend a couple of hours with organizers eager to bring the Olympics here.

The process has just begun. Ueberroth and company will discuss the rules a city must follow to bid on the games and "learn how difficult the assignment is going to be," he said.

The USOC also plans to visit Houston, Los Angeles (hey, that city has hosted two Olympics already), Chicago and San Francisco before it decides whether to put in a bid with the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC will announce the winning city in 2009. The USOC wants to have a candidate by year's end.

Philadelphia is in a culturally abundant, easy-to-navigate region. It contains venues that can be used as sporting sites, and transportation infrastructure to host the games.

Plus, our city stages major events with seeming ease. Of course, Olympic logistics are far more complex than for a GOP convention, or Live Aid and Live 8 concerts. Because of our experience, Live 8 came off with little advance notice; imagine what could be done with years of preparation fueled by civic pride and enthusiasm.

But pride and enthusiasm shouldn't overshadow pragmatism and the daily requirements needed to run a city. Philadelphia has broken through the second-class-city mindset. Housing prices are booming, the night-life scene is rocking, public schools are making progress. Slot parlors - for good or ill - will be in place soon.

As a city, we're on the map.

So though "feeling good" about ourselves might be important, it shouldn't be what drives us. It's the long-term benefits that we should remember: To present the United States in the best light, bolster established buildings and facilities, construct venues that will enhance the region's future.

Maybe the Navy Yard for housing; the Linc for soccer; the expanded (we hope) Convention Center for whatever. A track stadium and swimming pool will have to be built. All can be put to good use once the Olympics are over.

Pete, Philly can handle it.


22,603 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
the five cities that could bid for the u.s. nomination are philadelphia, chicago, houston, los angeles, and san francisco

some things philly might need to do to get ready:

~add an extra lane of traffic each way on the schuylkill expressway and blue route
~expand rail and/or subway service
~ build over i-95 even more to connect waterfront with center city and old city
~repave most limited access roads and surface roads
~connect i-95 and i-276
~reduce crime in other parts of the city so make them safer for tourists (for example, fencing possibly held in north philly at tom gola arena)
~add hotel rooms to the area
~get the unions to cooperate

logic behind philly being a true contender:

~houston is too hot in the summer, and is not as world-class as the other 4 candidates
~los angeles and san francisco are in the same state, so the state won't be unified in where it shoud be held (inlcuding state politicians not agreeing with each other)
~philadelphia is an east coast city, which will allow for live prime-time events (as opposed to tape delay events, such as for athens and turin)
~possibly has more stadiums, arenas, and buildings already built and ready to go than the oher 4 cities

from what it looks like, many people think philadelphia and chicago are the two favorites. of course, nothing official has happened yet, so it's anyone's game.

207 Posts
Looking at that map, it seems to be spread out over a great distance. I thought most Olympic facilities were usually consolidated within a smaller area. Nice plan though and that would certainly be dynamite.

184 Posts
Go Philly!!!

22,603 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
officials met in wilmington (yes, wilmington :) ) to discuss the state of the region and the feaibility of the olympics in the delaware valley.

Sydney spokeswoman's message to Philly: 'Go for it'

Sydney, the Olympic city?

It wasn't that many years ago that such a thought seemed as far-fetched as, say, Philadelphia welcoming the Games.

But what those who attend tomorrow's second State of the Region gathering in Wilmington, will hear about is a city that overcame a "chip on its shoulder" to pull off what many consider the benchmark for future Games.

Tomorrow's keynote speaker, Margy Osmond, directed what was called the Olympic Commerce Centre from 1997 through the culmination of the Games in September 2000. Now the Sydney chamber's chief executive, she brings with her an energy and contagious spirit that's likely to infect a group already engaged by the visit several weeks ago of USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth and his delegation.

Her message is simple.

"I'd say to Philadelphia, 'Go for it,' " she said yesterday. "I think it's the most wonderful thing for any city to do, just to go through the bidding process. It's a chance to sit down and ask 'What do we want to get out of the process? What legacies would we want to get out of it?' "

Osmond plans to meet today with members of the 2016 working panel, headed by Joe Torsella, then will address the breakfast tomorrow at the Chase Center on the Waterfront. Then it's off to London for another meeting. That's what happens when you're part of a team that produces what International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch called "the best Olympic Games ever" upon their conclusion in 2000.

"We went from being that nice little place down there in Australia with the nice bridge," she said, "to being a member of a very exclusive club."

Her visit comes a couple weeks after the USOC's 2-hour give-and-take session with a group of 10 regional leaders, including mayor John Street. It was the second stop on a no-frills tour that included Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. While the USOC said it might wait until the end of the year to decide whether to bid for the 2016 Games, the feeling among Torsella and others is that they will hear back much sooner, probably within a couple of weeks.

"I felt good before the meeting," said Hugh Long, the Wachovia CEO for Pennsylvania and Delaware whose primary role, as you might expect, is securing private funding for a potential bid. "I felt even better about it after that meeting was over. And I think, in a few more weeks judging from the USOC's reaction, I think I'll feel even better."

So the timing of Osmond's first visit to this region fits nicely into a schedule that will include over the next 6 weeks a second survey to gauge public support for the Games and, among other things, the release of the site plan.

Torsella said last week that they're most looking forward to learning from Osmond. Long echoed that.

"It's a great opportunity for us to have a significant part of the business community actually here and get first-hand knowledge from someone who's been there," Long said. "For the rest of us, we've sort of seen the process closer than others, but still from afar."

Sydney's leaders and residents could identify with that position a generation ago. Neighbor Brisbane had fallen short in its bid for the '92 Games, losing out to Barcelona, Spain. A couple of years later, Melbourne missed the cut as the IOC selected Atlanta.

So Sydney took its turn, adopting lessons learned from those failed experiences. A large element of the bid process, as Osmond described it yesterday, goes beyond the location of the state-of-the-art stadium. She'll tell the group tomorrow that this is a chance to develop a legacy, a word that Philadelphians will hear plenty about in the coming months.

"One of our great legacies... is that our charities now have a surplus of people who want to do things, because we had 47,000 volunteers for the Games who just loved it.

"So it's not just about dollars and cents," she said. "It's not just about infrastructure. It really means the job of a bid committee now is not just about 'we're going to put the Village there and we're going to have to build these new roads,' but it's 'what are the other things that we can enrich our community with?' "

22,603 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·

ON TUESDAY, May 10, a team of local leaders came together to make a compelling case to have the greater Philadelphia region host the 2016 Olympic Games if the USOC ultimately decides to put forward a U.S. bid city.

In turn, they listened as USOC Chairman Peter Ueberroth laid out what was expected of Olympic-hopeful regions. Nothing that the USOC said surprised or alarmed the Philadelphia team, or gave them second thoughts about Philadelphia's readiness to become an Olympic city.

It was a great moment for the region and there are many - even most - who are cheering Philadelphia on.

Yet by the next day, some were advising Philadelphia to run - not walk - away from bidding on the Olympics. Many reasons were given, but the message was one that we have heard for years - it won't work here, we're not good enough, it's a waste of money.

This is exactly the attitude we need to challenge in others, and in ourselves. It is a perception of Philadelphia, but not the reality.

The real Philadelphia has been defined by leaders with vision, passion and courage - its history is one of innovation and invention.

Where would Philadelphia - indeed the nation - be today if the framers of the Constitution heeded those who said it wouldn't work, and they were dreamers?

Where would we be today if Ben Franklin listened to those who said Philadelphia didn't need and couldn't afford a free library, a hospital, a volunteer fire company, each the first of their kind in the nation?

And you certainly wouldn't be reading this online if the creators of ENIAC, the world's first computer, invented at the University of Pennsylvania, paid attention to those who said they were crazy, and the machine, while clever, had little practical application.

Philadelphia's present and future requires leaders with vision and courage. What if then-Mayor Ed Rendell bowed to those who said his vision of a vibrant Center City, bustling with shopping, restaurants and performance venues, was a pipedream?

Please don't dismiss our belief in the region's ability to bid for the Olympics as civic boosterism. It is based on our region's current advantages our East Coast location, a tremendous concentration of existing venues, transportation infrastructure and proximity to additional major population centers.

Certainly there are issues to be worked on, but the very first issue we need to address is the seemingly ingrained pessimism that some Philadelphians have about this region.

When we embarked on this effort more than a year ago, people asked "Are you for real?"

That answer was "yes," and now Philadelphia is one of only five cities that the USOC chose to meet with from of field of many contenders.

BIDDING FOR THE Olympics is an opportunity to see ourselves differently, an opportunity to shake the pessimism that's held us back for too many decades - and an opportunity to win the incredible privilege and benefit of hosting the games and providing a tremendous athletes' experience.

Let's not run from it, let's welcome it, win it and, like those other Philadelphia leaders, work to make the dream real.

22,603 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
this might have been posted in the philadelphia development news. the article basically say how great a city philly is.

From 'Rocky' to rockin'

PHILADELPHIA — It's Thursday night, and the martinis are flying at 1-year-old Continental Midtown's rooftop terrace.

Dozens of pretty young things huddle around the circular bar, straining to hear each other over the pulsing music. Across the room, a slightly older crowd lounges on retro-cool orange sofas in front of a fire. Every few minutes the elevator swings open, depositing a new crop of late-night revelers.

It's a good night to be here, says Enrique Oliva, 31, who recently moved from Houston. "Friday and Saturday? The lines are out the door," gripes the artist and brewer, surveying the scene from a corner near the entrance to the ultra-hip, all-black, co-ed bathroom.

Philadelphia, says Oliva, is quite the happening place. "It's not quite New York, but it's getting there." (Related item: Photo gallery | Philadelphia's music scene proves size doesn't matter)

Philadelphia? Happening?

Indeed. The gritty decay that served as the backdrop for Sylvester Stallone's Rocky in the 1970s has disappeared. And the long-overlooked city of 1.5 million is morphing into one of the nation's coolest urban centers.

Philadelphia just kicked off a year-long celebration of its most famous resident, Ben Franklin, born 300 years ago, with events that highlight its historical riches, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Yet the city no longer is just a place to see historical sites. (Related story: It's a big Ben birthday)

An exploding restaurant scene, newfound nightlife, eclectic shopping and an expansion of the visual and performing arts have catapulted it onto the short list of must-see urban areas.

"It's a real surprise," says British artist Ellen Harvey, who is in town to finish an installation at the 200-year-old Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which tripled in size this year. "It's so much more than I expected."

Taking a break in the museum's grand rotunda, where she is engraving floor-to-ceiling mirrors with scenes of the building in ruins, the Brooklyn-based painter says she's impressed by the city's vibe. "I don't know of another city of this size that has so much fabulous art."

A vibrant art scene is one reason National Geographic Traveler named Philadelphia the world's "Next Great City" last month. The magazine called Philadelphia's Old City gallery district, just three blocks from Independence Hall, "the liveliest urban neighborhood between SoHo in New York and SoBe in Miami."

Another reason: the city's food scene. Once known for little more than cheese steaks, Philadelphia has shot into the forefront of major dining cities, luring top culinary names such as Masaharu Morimoto, Japan's "Iron Chef," who chose the city over New York for his first eatery. A Philadelphian, Stephen Starr, was just named Bon Appétit's "restaurateur of the year."

"There was a giant void here," says Starr, recalling the landscape when he opened the city's first martini bar and restaurant, The Continental, in 1995 — considered a seminal event in the city's transformation. Relaxing in a corner of Striped Bass, one of 12 restaurants in his fast-growing empire, he says the city back then "was really quite boring. I wanted to go to places that were fun and lighthearted, and there was nothing."

A decade later, Philadelphia may not have quite the food scene of New York or San Francisco, but boring it isn't. Starr, who has since launched such off-the-wall spaces as Asian-influenced Buddakan (where a wall-size Buddha gazes down on diners), now has plenty of competition. There are more than 200 downtown restaurants, including an influx of gourmet BYOBs — a trend that has gone to new heights in Philadelphia.

Many of those eateries are in the Old City gallery district, which artists began colonizing more than two decades ago. Sprinkled with some of the city's most historic buildings, the once-dilapidated area near the Delaware River now houses restaurants, bars and boutiques as well as more than 40 galleries, offering an intoxicating mix of old and new, highbrow sophistication and lowbrow fun.

Old City's Christ Church, where tourists pose for pictures in Franklin's pew, is just down the street from a dozen of the city's wildest bars and clubs, all tucked into narrow Colonial brick buildings. The home where Betsy Ross supposedly stitched the first American flag, one of the city's top attractions, is around the corner from several of the nation's best 20th-century design boutiques, a shop that makes custom handbags and a spa.

"It's got this wonderful feel, like SoHo used to have before it became a shopping mall," says Lewis Wexler, a New York transplant.

Lured by cheaper rents and the booming scene, the former Christies assistant vice president opened Wexler Gallery, a stylish outlet on Old City's Third Street that sells $35,000 chairs by Wendell Castle and Dale Chihuly studio glass.

Another area that has blossomed is the skyscraper-peppered downtown, known as Center City. Fueled by an influx of residents, its walkable grid of tree-lined streets laid down by Philadelphia founder William Penn in 1682 now bustles with people day and night — a change from just a few years ago.

In 1998, after a battle to strike down a regulation forbidding sidewalk cafes, Neil Stein opened one of Center City's first, Rouge, along Rittenhouse Square. Now, more than 100 spill onto the sidewalks.

Few U.S. cities have such a well-preserved stock of buildings, from Victorian brownstones to old banks. Many have been revived over the past decade, giving the downtown streetscape a quirky charm.

As urban destinations go, Philadelphia still has some flaws. Most notably, it lacks an inventory of stylish, fun places to stay. Purveyors of urban chic such as Kimpton Hotels have yet to touch down, leaving visitors with few choices for lodging other than chains.

Philadelphia also struggles to reconnect with its waterfront, cut off from the city by the construction of Interstate 95.

But longtime residents say it's breathtaking how far the city has come since 1985, when the nation watched in shock as a police confrontation with MOVE, a radical anti-government group, turned an entire neighborhood into a war zone and left 61 homes gutted.

Many credit the turnaround to former mayor Ed Rendell, who took office in 1992 and made the revival of Center City — and tourism — his top priority. "He was the city's cheerleader, and his energy was infectious," says Janet Calderwood, of Calderwood Gallery, a famed outlet for art-deco furniture.

Rendell, now governor of Pennsylvania, pushed for tax breaks that have brought nearly a dozen new hotels downtown since 1998. And he rallied support for new art spaces, such as the $265 million Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2001.

He also championed an overhaul of Independence Mall that's just being completed. The changes include a new, $185 million National Constitution Center; a visitors' center and an interpretive center to house the Liberty Bell. Thanks in part to the additions, overnight tourist visits hit 8.34 million in 2004, up 39% in five years.

"Rendell really understood the importance of tourism and how it was an underutilized resource," says longtime city-watcher Howie Shapiro, who has written about the changes during nearly four decades at ThePhiladelphia Inquirer.

Talking over burgers at London Grill, in the booming Fairmount neighborhood near the Philadelphia Art Museum, Shapiro says the city is doing creative things to embrace visitors. This summer, it began placing storytellers at 13 benches in Old City to regale tourists with tales from the city's past at no charge. It also added "Adventure Tours" of Colonial sites, led by historically dressed characters, and daily re-enactments. At Harmony Lane in Old City, summer visitors saw costumed characters going about their day — churning butter, hanging laundry and exchanging stories about daily life.

"It's changed the nature of touring Philly," says Shapiro, who says tourism promoters have taken a page from Colonial Williamsburg and showmanship-focused Disney in making history come alive.

Restaurateur Starr, who grew up in the area, says it's all part of an "attitude change" in the nation's fifth-largest city, which long has had an inferiority complex about its much bigger neighbor 100 miles to the northeast, New York.

"When I was growing up, this was a city that had low self-esteem," Starr says. But like Rocky, the fictional Philadelphia hero, the city has begun to believe it's a winner. "There's a new pride."

New blends with old: At upscale Morimoto, the seats glow and slowly change colors.

Illuminating experience: Ellen Harvey's engraved panel of glass gets finishing touches at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Live and Let Live
1,881 Posts
I realize this is all tongue in cheek but I think its worthy of a response
Think of the international profile the games would bring our humble town - the sophistication and prestige!
I dont like this kind of talk-**** the world-they should be so lucky as to have their inconvenient and overrated event in a city as rich in charm and character as Philadelphia. In fact, they are lucky that Philly is even considering hosting them! The hell do they think they are? This is the US for petesake, we've taken in tens of millions of people from around the world and continue to do so now-whats another 100,000? LOL

Of course, it would also bring traffic detours of galactic proportions. And construction nightmares for years prior to the first javelin throw.
After a while, you get used to wretched traffic jams all day and well into the night.

And - eek! - foreigners.
Just be kind to your guests, and remember a smile is understood in any language

It's the unanticipated problems, though, that worry me - the kind that arise when outsiders' expectations bump against the realities of Philly's small-town quirks and indictment-worthy traditions.
LOL....Ive found most visitors from foreign countries actively seek the things that locals like to see, eat, do etc. Philadelphia offers excellent amenities.

Sometimes its okay to be stuck up. San Francisco would rock their world 6 times sideways but after reading this, I almost want Philadelphia to get the games instead. :)

22,603 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
philly is on the upswing just at the right time.

Next Great City: Philly, Really
After decades of relative obscurity, Philadelphia, a classic American city, is ready to step back into the national limelight.

You don't usually don white tie and tails for a birthday party, but then, how often do you celebrate the birthday of a hotel? Yet, here we are—me, Walter Cronkite, and 1,854 other guests assembled to help blow out the candles for the hundredth anniversary of the opening of Philadelphia's Park Hyatt at the Bellevue, "the grand dame of Broad Street." As the crush in the lobby grows, I seek refuge from Philadelphia's elite on a spiral, marble staircase from which I can survey the scene. F. Scott Fitzgerald got it wrong, I think. There are second acts in American life—for hotels, certainly, and, yes, for entire cities.

When the (then) Bellevue-Stratford debuted in 1904, the elegant, 1,170-room French-Renaissance wedding cake embodied Philadelphia's status as one of America's premier metropolises. But as the decades passed, the Bellevue, and Philadelphia itself, lost their sheen. In 1976, Legionnaires' disease killed 29 of the Bellevue's guests, and the hotel closed for over a decade. That same year, Sylvester Stallone's Rocky brought worldwide exposure to the City of Brotherly Love—but as a synonym for gritty urban decay. Indeed, residents were fleeing the city's core just as more vibrant urban areas were coming into their own.

My theory is that, like dogs, each city has its day. In the 1960s, people flocked to San Francisco; in the '70s, Dallas and Houston got hot; during the '80s, it was Miami, full of vice and sockless loafers; in the '90s, grungy Seattle became Nirvana. Now, in the new century, the Bellevue is back, and it's Philly's turn for the limelight.

"I've long thought of Philadelphia as the Next Great American City," says Tony Goldman, a real-estate developer who invests in nascent urban neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan, Miami Beach, and, more recently, here in Philly. "But it's just now being recognized and celebrated for it."

Moreover, says urban planner Richard Florida, who wrote The Rise of the Creative Class, Philadelphia is showing itself to be an "open city," a term that separates America's urban dynamos like San Francisco and Miami from struggling cities like Cleveland and St. Louis. "Open cities welcome people—singles, gays, artists and individuals," he says. "They have excitement and a sense of creative energy."

For years, I've been hearing great things about this city of 1.4 million on the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. Newspaper articles speak of innovative development projects. Friends return from visits amazed that the nightlife is actually lively. "It's no longer D.C. on a bad hair day," as one jokes.

Philadelphia, I discover, comprises 152 distinct neighborhoods, ranging from working-class South Philly to yuppified Manayunk to ivied University City to up-and-coming Northern Liberties and Fishtown. But it is the Center City, the heart of downtown, that's energizing the rebirth. Trendy restaurants and condominiums abound. A soon-to-be-completed Cesar Pelli skyscraper, the Cira Centre, just across the Schuylkill River, forms a daring twist in the cityscape. The striking Kimmel Center, with its digital-age design, is the new home of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Philly, the only U.S. venue chosen for Live 8, last summer's multinational rock concert, is clearly on a roll. The city's official promoters have been aggressively marketing it to everyone from Canadians to gays to MTV execs. There's more to Philly, you'll hear, than Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Like public art? Philly has some 2,400 murals. Razzle-dazzle? At the National Constitution Center museum, the nation's most hallowed document is celebrated with Vegas-style glitz. Street parties? Odunde, an annual Nigerian-inspired summer festival, attracts over 300,000 revelers. Enough visitors heed Philly's call that Southwest and Frontier airlines started service here last year, and the cruise terminal on the Delaware now offers 32 annual sailings.

A few months after the Bellevue bash, I step into the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to see an 1822 self-portrait by Charles Willson Peale. The artist depicts himself raising a curtain, beckoning visitors into his Philadelphia museum. Inspired, I've enlisted modern Philadelphians to lift the curtain on their city for me.

I MEET KYLE FARLEY IN A coffee shop, appropriately enough, in the Bellevue's lobby. He looks more urban hipster than history scholar. Farley runs Poor Richard's Walking Tours, devoted to bringing Philly's past to life. I'm game.

Striding down Market Street, we pass the old Wanamaker's department store, now a Lord & Taylor's, where shoppers of the mid-20th century might have bought the Stetson hats, Philco TVs, and Flexible Flyer sleds made in local factories. Philly was called the "Workshop of the World," Farley says. But by the 1970s, the world had lost interest in products built here. One by one, many of Philly's factories closed. Neighborhoods collapsed. The city's population, which peaked in 1950 at 2.1 million, dropped to 1.4 million by 2003.

But, Farley explains as we traverse Washington Square, Philadelphia had a saving grace. "The grid laid out by founder William Penn in 1682, two miles long and one mile wide, is still here, making Center City the most walkable district of America's big cities. Everything you'd want is within a short distance." That convenience is drawing many businesses—particularly retailers—back.

Another gift from the past, Farley goes on, is Philadelphia's humongous stock of stately old buildings, mostly from the 19th century. To illustrate the point, he leads me into a popular clothing boutique occupying the former Van Rensselaer mansion, built in 1898 by a wealthy family. I wonder how they would react to having lingerie for sale in their living room.

"Recycling buildings is called adaptive reuse," Farley says, "and in Philadelphia there's a huge amount of it to reuse, not just gorgeous Victorian neighborhoods on tree-lined streets but also factories, breweries, old banks—these can be turned into all sorts of things."

The structures' quirks are part of their charm. Tony Goldman, who's redeveloping a Broad Street neighborhood he calls B3, tells me later: "Grit is good. Fabulous, funky, ugly, or crazy—grit provides color and makes life exciting."

I'M HANGING WITH CHEF Martin Hamann of the Four Seasons Fountain restaurant. We're strolling Reading Terminal Market—open since 1892 and housed beneath the terminus of a railroad made famous by the Monopoly game. The market, which wilted like week-old lettuce back in the 1970s, has made a remarkable rebound. The train shed above has morphed into the grand hall of Philadelphia's enormous convention center. The market below is now a gourmet free-for-all filled with hubbubbing shoppers and stalls bulging with everything from caviar to Amish donuts. "Now, great food is available here on a daily basis again," Hamann says.

"Move it, big guy," a vendor wheeling crates of oranges yells at me good-naturedly. I jump back. The bustle around here is exhilarating.

So is Center City's delightful variety of dinner restaurants, whose numbers have more than tripled since 1992, to 201, many of them occupying recycled buildings. Restaurateur Stephen Starr's 12 Philly eateries, for example, with names like Striped Bass, Tangerine, and Buddakan, inhabit such structures as a former ad agency and a bank.

Lifelong residents can't believe their luck. "When I grew up, there were three kinds of restaurants in Philadelphia—steak, steak, and fish," gallery owner Rick Snyderman told me earlier. "Now the city's wide open when it comes to food."

When chef Hamann and I return from the market, he serves me his reinvention of the Philly cheesesteak. He's reimagined the local icon as a spring roll, with the standard chopped steak and American cheese wrapped like a Chinese treat instead of stuffed into a sandwich. As Philadelphians know, you eat your cheesesteaks—even this newfangled variety—leaning over, so nothing falls onto your shoes. It isn't decorous. But it is delicious. I have two.

The renaissance of Philadelphia restaurants goes hand in hand with the revitalization of its neighborhoods, John Mariani tells me later. "Restaurants throw light on streets," says the Esquire food critic and co-author of the Italian-American Cookbook. "Sometimes a single restaurant can revitalize a whole section." Enterprising restaurateurs like Susanna Foo and her Walnut Street eatery, Georges Perrier and his Le Bec-Fin and, of course, Stephen Starr, are bringing the City Center—and Philly cuisine—back to eminence. "It's back, big time," Mariani says.

ON THE FIRST FRIDAY of every month, the art galleries of the Old City—a dense cluster of 19th-century buildings near the Delaware River—throw open their doors to all comers. This has created an effervescent social scene, helping to jumpstart the revival of the Old City. Now, arguably, it's the liveliest urban neighborhood between SoHo in New York and SoBe in Miami. The area, with its 84 colleges, has more students—some 290,000—than Boston, making Philadelphia a bona fide playground for the young.

My guide tonight is Brandon Joyce, the 27-year-old self-described "mayor" of the South Philadelphia Athenaeum, a group of 30 twentysomethings working and playing in a 13,000-square-foot warehouse. "We're the real 'Real World,''' he says of the group thriving on Philadelphia's cheap digs and creative juices.

We join the streams of gallery-hoppers on the sidewalks. Unlike New York's, the Philly art scene is less air-kiss glamour and more come-as-you-are open house. Kids piggyback on fathers' backs, grandmothers converse with tattooed sculptors, and the galleries' old floorboards groan beneath the crush of people.

Joyce is eager to find a concert he's heard about, and we head into nearby Chinatown to find it. As we wander the back streets, where posters advertise $12 bus rides to Manhattan, Joyce talks about Philly's allure.

"I love the excitement in the air here—and the smell," says the philosophy grad. "There's a palpable smell from peoples' collective moods."

I'll grant him that, though I smell only egg rolls and beer. Then, suddenly, we're at the concert—and within eyeshot of City Hall, bathed in white light. Atop its crown is William Penn, all 27 bronze tons of him, peering out above the knot of young people. We enter and climb four flights to the performance space. The warm-up act is local painter Shawn Thornton and his homemade electric zither bass. Thornton is a proponent of Noise, a new rock genre that sounds like plain racket to me, though my Gen-X host can't get enough. I escape into an adjoining gallery and glance out the window once more at Philadelphia's founding father. From this angle, Penn looks bemused, like a host whose party didn't quite turn out as planned but is fun nonetheless.

WITH HER TOUSLED BLOND hair and cat-eye glasses, and dressed in stripes, paisleys, and polka dots, Elizabeth Fiend looks like she hatched from a church basement rummage sale. This punk rock version of Martha Stewart hosts "BiG TeA PaRtY," a public television show charting Philly's sprawling street life and politics (and offering cooking tips). I join Fiend to tour South Philadelphia, the city's famed working-class Italian neighborhood. We navigate our way to the Italian Market, redolent of fish, woodsmoke, and anise.

"There's only one way to do things around here," Fiend says of her neighborhood. "Their way. That's the Philly "addytude"—a type of honesty with a tough-guy edge."

I get a helping of Philly addytude while ordering a hoagie at Chickie's Italian Deli. Though it's only 3 p.m., and the place is packed with patrons, Chickie's will close in an hour. "It's not about maximizing profit," whispers Fiend. "They don't like working nights. They close each day at 4, or when the bread runs out, whichever comes first. But the food's so good, you work around that."

"Small?" barks the counterman.

"Okay," I gulp, "roast pork and...." I see a choice of cheese on the menu. "Make that sharp provolone." Fiend telegraphs approval.

"That all?"

I pause. Fiend hisses: "Ask for the broccoli rabe," a fancy relative of turnip greens.

"...and some broccoli rabe."

The man's face brightens.

"Well, awlright," he says.

"I thought broccoli rabe was yuppie," I say to Fiend, as we walk our carryout to her house.

"No way," she says. "The yuppies stole it from South Philly."

Fiend and her husband, Allen, live on a block of sturdy brick row houses. The plastic awnings, clean stoops, and front window religious displays epitomize the neighborhood character. Italian. Immutable. Unchangeable.

"But change is happening here," Fiend says, as we tuck into lunch in her green and lavender kitchen. "The kids who grew up in South Philly are moving out to suburbia to find their dreams. When the old people go, Vietnamese, Mexicans, and hipsters take their place."

Add Buddhist Cambodians, Catholic Lebanese, and Muslim Algerians. Recent immigrants are seeding the crowded streets with diverse languages and new restaurants. They're also, inevitably, diluting the old Philly addytude.

No matter. South Philly still takes care of its own. When a Cambodian temple caught fire in 2003, the men who rescued the Buddhist monks were their neighbors from two doors down, which happened to be a group of Mummers, Philadelphia's famous costumed clubbers that parade every New Year's Day. "We really cared about those monks," the Mummer's Museum executive director told the Philadelphia Daily News. "We have a history with that temple."

HOW DO YOU KNIT TOGETHER a rapidly diversifying city? Driving along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway—Philadelphia's version of the Champs Élysée—I hear city information officer Dianah Neff's answer: "Use invisible thread."

Neff's mission is to turn Philadelphia into one giant WiFi hot spot. That's geekspeak for putting "wireless fidelity" transmitters on light poles to beam an Internet signal into citizens' desktop computers, laptops, cell phones, or PDAs. Subscribers will pay a small fee, waived in some cases, and will get screaming fast Internet service that's almost as available as broadcast television signals.

Visitors will be able to Google train schedules in Love Park, find a shoe sale while strolling Market Street, read a biography of Ben Franklin on their way to tour Independence Hall, or pay a parking ticket without ever standing in line. It's one of the more ambitious wireless plans on Earth. "How soon will it be up and running?" I ask. "End of the decade?"

"Oh, goodness no," Neff says. "By next year."

She smiles. She knows she impressed me. We tour several pilot areas where the city has already affixed wireless transmitters. Cable and telephone companies have objected to the plan, for obvious reasons. But, Neff argues, those companies don't have a financial incentive to blanket the entire city, especially the poorer areas of North and West Philadelphia. Going completely WiFi, she continues, will be as advantageous to Philly in the information age as the Delaware River or the Pennsylvania Railroad were in the industrial age.

"The city's future depends on us being digital," Neff says, as we drive to the Powelton neighborhood, site of a program training low-income mothers to telecommute, doing data-processing via wireless connection. It's another good idea from a city that seems to have a fair share of them.

ONE OF PHILADELPHIA'S GREATEST assets is of a low-tech variety—its sidewalks. A city needs shoulders rubbing together to produce the friction that makes things happen. Philadelphia's density and sheer walkability insure that people will keep mixing it up—and all that debating, flirting, and bargaining generates ideas. Maybe that's why they wrote the Declaration of Independence here. The city was once, and is again, a place for creative solutions and big pictures.

Kyle Farley and I ended our walking tour in Rittenhouse Square, one of the five original parks that Penn laid out. Sunday shoppers stream into the tree-shaded square from all four corners. "Jane Jacobs, the urban theorist who wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities, loved this place," Farley tells me. "She said it's like a ballet, with people dancing across the stage."

Dancing, I thought—that's right. Philadelphia is like a stage, no matter whether the performance of the moment is a waltz, rock, or salsa. Keep the red curtain raised, Mr. Peale. This city is ready for its second act.

Geno's Steaks on Ninth Street sells cheesesteaks, Philly's guiltiest pleasure.

22,603 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
yes, but i found these in a thread somewhere else on bringing the olympics to philly. i posted them here to show that philly is looking like a great city at just the right time, and that it will give every other city in the country and the world a run for it's money.

1,530 Posts
xzmattzx said:
yes, but i found these in a thread somewhere else on bringing the olympics to philly. i posted them here to show that philly is looking like a great city at just the right time,
Oh ok.I wasn't trying to be smart, I just wanted to make sure you knew.
xzmattzx said:
and that it will give every other city in the country and the world a run for it's money.
Uh huh :yes:
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
Not open for further replies.