Philadelphia’s A Dilly
At last, I’ve found a city that’s better than chocolate. When I gush about how much I enjoyed visiting Philadelphia, however, people seem puzzled. The City of Brotherly Love doesn’t seem to be on their radar (perhaps it’s overshadowed by New York and Washington, each only an hour’s train ride away.)
Yet Philly seems to have it all. The ride from the airport swings past the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, home to major sports teams (baseball, football, hockey, basketball and lacrosse). At the historic heart of America, you can get your picture taken up close to the Liberty Bell and be moved by a stirring presentation about freedom in the National Constitution Center.
But go for the arts. Be a faux Philadelphian and shout “Bravo” at a performance of their beloved Philadelphia Orchestra – your pleasure in the music will be genuine. Trot up the street from the orchestra’s home, the modern-yet-friendly Kimmel Center, to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. You can’t miss Claes Oldenburg’s 16-metre paintbrush – and its huge blob of orange paint – that’s erected beside the ornate 1870s museum designed by Philadelphian architect Frank Furness. (Discover his distinctive style during an architectural tour through neighbourhoods surrounding Rittenhouse Square.)
By now you must be hungry and thirsty. Pop into Parc Restaurant Brasserie beside the square and enjoy French cuisine. Savour a Basilic, a cocktail made with citrus vodka, elderflower liqueur, basil and cucumber and you won’t need salad!
NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER: You can even sign a copy of the Constitution here and mingle with 42 Founding Fathers – life-size bronze statues of them, that is.
CITY HALL: The massive city hall, finished in 1901, may still be the tallest masonry building in the world and the largest municipal building in the U.S. – Back in the 1950s it proved too expensive to demolish, which is why you can still take a tour and see its more than 250 sculptures and decorative reliefs. You can’t miss the 11-metre statue of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania – that’s him atop the clock tower.
BEN FRANKLIN statue: The Freemasons presented this statue of young Ben Franklin hard at work on his printing press. You can find it across the street from the Masonic Temple.
HENRY MOORE sculpture: Henry Moore seems to defy gravity with Three-Way Piece Number 1: Points. It weighs a ton. Seriously. There’s more information available through the Museum Without Walls Audio download or app. (http://museumwithoutwallsaudio.org)
THE KISS: What could be more romantic than The Kiss, a Rodin sculpture? Sneak up on the pair in the Rodin Museum.
PAINT TORCH: Located next to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) you’ll find the playful 16-metre-high Paint Torch by Claes Oldenburg. Then pop in and explore the PAFA collection next door. The aircraft behind the brush hasn’t crashed – it’s a greenhouse!
MASONIC TEMPLE: Not interested in Freemasonry? A tour of this fantastic building across from City Hall reveals many historical artifacts relating to important figures such as George Washington. Its Egyptian Hall is a wonder worth seeing.