Despite all that Philly has to offer, it sometimes receives a bad rap. While touring the outskirts of Temple’s Main campus, Philadelphia might seem like an impoverished ghetto with years of cleaning needed. But although Philly has its share of problems, it deserves a character re-evaluation because, like all beautiful things, the city is multi-faceted and cannot be appreciated immediately.
One reason why some Temple students might have a more negative perspective of Philadelphia is because of the Main campus’ location in North Philly. It’s not Philadelphia’s most attractive area and doesn’t resemble the tourist destinations that Nicholas Cage ran through in National Treasure.
True, the crime rate is high. In the first months of 2005 the murder rate increased by 14 percent from last year, with many homicides near Temple. Though this is disturbing, with some common sense to avoid potentially dangerous situations, students need to remember that North Philly does not define the city’s nature.
It is unfortunate that Temple students are mostly surrounded by Philadelphia’s edgy side and not the upscale Center City. Students only see the city’s grittiness, and consequently their general conception of the city reflects this area.
The upscale areas of Philadelphia, however, outnumber the likes of the northern neighborhood. Center City, Old City, University City and many other neighborhoods have a multitude of entertainment venues to keep a student busy for four years.
Philadelphia offers a college student an experience similar to few, if one is creative enough to branch out from the ubiquitous party scene. A person can dine at posh cosmopolitan restaurants such as Alma de Cuba, the less expensive but still fancy McCormick & Schmick’s or the famous and affordable cheesesteaks from Pat’s.
An entertaining activity after dinner would be to ice skate at Penn’s ice rink or go to one of the many upscale movie theaters. Not in too many cities can a person pass one of America’s most famous landmarks, the Liberty Bell, while on their way to see a movie at the Ritz at the Bourse.
In addition to entertainment, the city has much to offer in regards to historical prestige and education. Philadelphia lies at the center of this country’s history and it still remains an important political center. This allows Temple students to experience news from a more local perspective instead of states away.
One of the most common misconceptions about Philadelphia concerns its homeless population. Students see the homeless asking for money and SEPTA tokens on an everyday basis and are taught to give the “Philly nod” when approached.
Many students think Philly’s homeless situation is one of the worst in the country. Few know that Philadelphia has the fewest people living on the streets of all major U.S. cities. This is a great positive statement about the city’s effort to help those in need with relief programs and many shelters. Besides, volunteering to help out or even donating to their cause adds to the experience this city has to offer.
The City of Brotherly Love has its troubles that need to be fixed, including its ever-in-debt transportation organization, SEPTA, which continues to face the possibility of employee layoffs or scaled-back service. Of course, the city and state need to contribute more money to SEPTA, as it is a vital component of Philadelphia. But with Philadelphia’s vocal community, this problem surely hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Philadelphia is a three-dimensional city with virtually endless treasures to discover. It has much to offer college students on the levels of education, entertainment and an atmosphere that can only be experienced here. Where else could a person visit a historic cheesesteak stand run by fiery employees who yell at customers for merely mumbling their orders? In my home state of New Jersey, we don’t even know what “wit’ whiz” is.
Jesse North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.