The Philly Five
In 1682, William Penn, a Quaker hoping for religious freedom in his city, took its name from philos and adelphos, Greek for “brotherly love” – and bequeathed it an enduring nickname. America’s fifth-largest city, Philadelphia proves sophisticated, fun and friendly, with an astonishing array of dazzling art, music, gardens, theatre, architecture, many diverse museums and wonderful places to eat. Stay in the Center City district and walk everywhere. There’s plenty to amuse within blocks of your hotel, even beyond the Liberty Bell.
A Passion for Art
The late Albert C. Barnes displayed his fabulous collection of European and American Impressionist, post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings in a specific way – look for those same relationships in colour, pattern and subject matter within the Barnes Foundation’s handsome new campus. Walk next door to the Rodin Museum to eye more than 140 of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures, housed in an elegant Beaux Arts-style museum. A version of The Thinker ponders in the garden.
Walk the Walk
Clambering children have polished the back of a bronze billy goat to a golden glow in Rittenhouse Square, one of the city’s first parks. A walking tour in the neighbourhood detours through the 19th-century, along narrow streets lined by still-fashionable three-storey row houses. Two of them hold the beloved Rosenbach Museum and Library, where Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and other of his children’s books and memorabilia are held dear. The tour includes houses designed by native son (and Civil War hero) Frank Furness, who stamped the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with his bold and original style. It’s vastly different from Philadelphia’s ornate Second Empire-style City Hall a few blocks south – the largest in the U.S. – or the extravagant Masonic Temple across the street from it, whose Egyptian Hall, based on the temples of Luxor, is said to have accurate hieroglyphics. Now that’s worth the price of admission.
The renowned Philadelphia Orchestra and its audience are over the moon with a new Canadian music director, 38-year-old Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Swoon with them in the oddly cosy 2,500-seat Verizon Hall in the Kimmel Center. Nothing could be as majestic as the more than a century-old Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, a 28,000-pipe instrument – a National Historic Landmark – in Macy’s Center City, in the former Wanamaker building (twice daily concerts, six days a week).
My Old Philadelphia Home