Recently the urge hit to go bowling.
I missed throwing the ball down the lane.
I missed 7-10 splits.
I missed those Brunswick video screens.
I missed sharing a pitcher of beer with friends.
I missed those god-awful shoes.
But there is nowhere to bowl in downtown Philadelphia.
Philadelphia’s bowling alleys are in far-off neighborhoods like the Northeast and Olney: places that require a subway to a bus, and possibly another bus after that.
Living downtown in a big city, there was nowhere in walking distance to bowl.
It’s not just bowling alleys either.
Since the SamEric movie theatre on 19th and Chestnut Streets closed, Philadelphia does not have a mainstream movie theatre downtown.
Sure, there are the different Ritz theatres, the West Philly theatre, movie Monday at the Balcony and a few other assorted spots, but c’mon.
And the United Artists’ Riverview?
It’s in middle of nowhere, impossible to get to by public transit and is staffed with the surliest employees ever seen, anywhere.
The idea of a movie theatre surrounded by a massive parking lot across from a Home Depot and a Wal-Mart is something that belongs in, well, Montgomery County.
This is a city.
Why should the car-less be deprived of being able to see the latest Hollywood crap?
Philadelphia is a livable city.
It has many good points.
But the fact remains that people sometimes want to go out and do something, well, mainstream.
It’s great that Philadelphia has five restaurants for vegan Chinese food and stores stocking nothing but condoms.
But what happens when you just want to do something as simple as bowling or watch a movie?
Unfortunately, it all comes down to business.
That’s why Ikea wouldn’t open up on Spring Garden Street; why there is a gigantic hole on Market Street where the Disney arcade should have been; and even why city planners put such a large bet on Penn’s Landing.
Developers are too lazy to try something new and instead decide on sure bets in the suburbs.
It’s pointless how the downtown section of this city lacks bowling alleys and movie theatres and did not even have a real pool hall until recently.
Let’s hope some people wake up and realize what Center City really needs.
Neal Ungerleider can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org