Philadelphia goes by many nicknames, some more pleasant than others. City of Neighborhoods, City of Brotherly Love, Filth-adelphia. As a life-long Philly citizen, I’ve heard them all, and even used a few on occasion. Call it what you want, but keep in mind that a person’s attitude toward the city is directly related to what that person gets back from the city.
Philadelphia has been slowly but surely building itself up over the years. Though it may not be as well known as New York, and not quite as glamorous as L.A., Philly has plenty to offer, as long as residents, visitors and tourists keep an open mind.
Much like any other bond, a person’s relationship with a city needs to be treated with care. Simply being in the city is not enough to warrant a good experience. Tourists seem to realize this, but Philadelphians often fail to consider this point.
E. Digby Baltzell, a former University of Pennsylvania professor and lifelong resident of this city before his death in 1996, knew it.
“The spirit of Philadelphia,” Baltzell once wrote, “is always to root for the away team, against the home team.”
That attitude doesn’t make it right, and certainly isn’t helpful
While people from out of town walk around the city enjoying the sites and visiting its many attractions, plenty of Philadelphians spend their time complaining about anything and everything. Though the city does have its problems, the hating seems to have less to do with those problems than it does with the perception that complaining creates.
Respect the city, and it you’ll get much more out of it.
Residents, both permanent and temporary, can often be seen shaking their heads in disgust at the litter that “seems to take over the neighborhoods,” as a friend of mine put it; a friend who doesn’t give a second thought to flicking her cigarette on the ground when she’s done with it, rather than walking to an ashtray, as if only other people’s trash makes the city look bad.
A common gripe of many Temple students has to do with the surrounding neighborhood. Students’ general attitude about the neighborhood is that it is already in plight, so efforts to make it better are futile. Thoughts such as these are why the neighborhood has this reputation in the first place. Some students who rent houses off campus complain that their non-student neighbors don’t keep up their properties, yet their own backyards have puddles of day-old beer in them.
Though not every Philly resident treats the city with disrespect, one look around at the piles of garbage and the unkempt properties is proof that not enough people treat the city as they should.
Many look to the mayor and other city officials to fix Philly’s problems, but those with the most power are also the most removed from the everyday problems of the city. The chances of the city cleaning itself up are better than that of John Street having a pothole fixed. It is up to Philadelphia residents to take care of the city. If people would stop making excuses and placing blame, the city would already be a better place to live. People can only get from the city what they put into it, so start treating Philadelphia with some respect.
Shannon McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.