Philadelphia named U.S.’ ‘Next Great City’

When most people think of the great American metropolises, they think of Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. For years, this monolithic trio has been the only game in town for those seeking vibrant, diverse, and populous urban centers in the United States. But, a recent National Geographic article said that it might be time to add another city to that list: Philadelphia.

To the surprise of many foreign to the city, the October issue of National Geographic Traveler proclaimed Philadelphia America’s next great urban center. Despite the city’s legendary inferiority complex, most Philadelphians will say that the magazine’s proclamation is hardly news.

“It’s got nice bars, nice clubs, nice women. It’s always been a great place.” said Alex Newberry, a native Philadelphian from the Brewerytown neighborhood.

Many Temple students echoed that sentiment.

“Everyone always talks about how great New York is, while some people can’t even tell you what state Philadelphia is in. I’m glad to finally see someone recognizing Philadelphia as a great city,” said Temple Student Government Trustee Richard Drach.

Some hope this announcement will mark a turning point for the city. Philadelphia was once the most prominent city in the nation, known around the world for its industry and wealth. Though surpassed in population by New York, Philadelphia was the headquarters of more industrial and financial concerns.

This opulent legacy was struck by the great decay of America’s urban centers, an almost national blight beginning in the latter half of the 20th Century. During this time, many formerly great cities were left searching for their lost splendor. Few cities recovered from decades of industrial collapse, white flight, and a seemingly endless cycle of poverty that arose during this time. Gangs and drugs began to plague the once pristine urban centers of America, and Philadelphia was not an exception. Many were ready to write off the city, which lost much of its wealth and industry, but a near renaissance in the 90’s and a housing boom in the last few years have greatly changed the city.

For many years, Philadelphia was viewed as a “lost city”. Mismanagement and economic recessions left the city mired in debt, crime, and blight, a reputation many still apply to the city today.

The image of Philadelphia as a dying city is slowly being washed away to reveal the metropolis as a center of culture, history and art. National Geographic Traveler cited these factors in its decision.

Philadelphia regularly hosts music and arts festivals and showcases in Center City. Every first Friday of the month is a celebration of Philly’s arts and every gallery on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is free of charge to students.

Old City contains some of Philadelphia’s most prized relics and historical treasures. Independence Mall is home to numerous national monuments and artifacts.

None of these attractions are any news to the residents of Philadelphia and those who frequent the city.

The October issue of National Geographic Traveler is out now.

Ryan Briggs can be reached at rwb@temple.edu.

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