My recent trip to Philadelphia to check out the newly-opened hospital wing of the Eastern State Penitentiary just further confirmed what I've come to realize during my past trips—that Philly is endlessly charming. I walked to ESP through the Fairmount neighborhood, which was so quiet and idyllic (and close to ESP!) that I did a casual search for apartments there when I got home.
I'm certainly not done with New York quite yet (I only just celebrated my four year NY-iversary!) but it's comforting for me to know that I could potentially be happy living elsewhere. Growing up in Ohio, the only place I ever saw myself living as an adult was New York City, but it's prohibitively expensive and smelly and noisy and relentlessly competitive. I'm sure Philly has its downsides too—as all locations do—but I feel comfortable there in a way I haven't in other places that I've visited.
One great thing about living in New York is its proximity to other places—there are nearly limitless options for one- or two-day weekend trips via train, bus or car. Regional transit is a bit slow compared to other forms of transportation, but I love the hours of uninterrupted (ideally) quiet reflection that comes baked into a long train ride.
After I was done at ESP, I looked up diners in the neighborhood, and decided to check out Little Pete's a few blocks away. We had eaten at another Little Pete's when we were in Philly last year, and although this location was a little less charming, the food was still diner-good. This location is actually located in the ground floor of what I can only assume is a retirement community, and I fit right in with all of the locals and their nurses eating at 3pm.
I randomly came across Claes Oldenburg’s Paint Torch, a 51-foot sculpture installed at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Oldenburg has a few other statues in the city including a giant clothespin, and he's one of my favorite sculpture artists. His pieces appeal to my love of things that are bigger than they're supposed to be and they always make me smile.
Like New York, Philly also has a Diamond District—full of great storefronts and signage—and a small Chinatown. I never made it to Laurel Hill Cemetery (next time!) but I did make sure to stop at Professor Ouch's Bizarre Bazaar & Odditorium. Last summer I bought an eyeball model from Professor Ouch's, and they have a great selection of oddities, vintage finds and circus memorabilia. This time I didn't find anything that I couldn't live without, but the small "odditorium" located at the back of the store—filled with bizarre taxidermy and other oddities—is always worth a visit.
I think the heat and humidity sucked my energy faster than usual, so I was back at the train station in time to catch the 5:44 pm train back to Trenton, but already thinking about my next trip to Philly.