2012 Convention News
Philadelphia, February 21–24
Navigating the City of Brotherly Love
By Sabrina Abate
With Philadelphia being a popular historic destination for people from all over the world, getting around town has to be easy and safe. There are way too many things to do in Philadelphia to even count, but Philadelphia proper (Center City) covers just 25 blocks between two rivers, the Schuylkill and the Delaware. The city and all it has to offer is best accessed by foot, public transportation, or taxi. Whatever mode of transport you choose, Philly has an easy grid-like street system, with numbered streets running north to south and many east-to-west streets named for local plants and trees, including Cherry, Chestnut, Walnut, Locust, Spruce, and Pine. William Penn named many of the streets.
Walking is the transportation of choice for locals and tourists alike, no matter what time of year. Philly is a great walkable city, with attractions every few steps. To make getting around on foot easier, “Walk! Philadelphia” directional signs are placed all over Center City that will point in your desired direction. The signs are color coded by neighborhood. As you walk, you will see uniformed goodwill ambassadors who act as strolling concierges. Ask them for directions or a question about the city.
Walking tours are another way to tour the city on foot. They are offered daily and visit any section of the city you would like. Check out www.freetoursbyfoot.com/philadelphia for free tours around the city. Dress warmly, grab a hot chocolate, and enjoy the history.
Public transportation is another widely used form of transport. We boast the nation's fifth largest transit system, SEPTA, which consists of subways, buses, and commuter rails. The $11 One-Day Independence Pass is a great option because you have unlimited access to all buses, subways, and trains. The subway system takes you along the two main arteries in the city: the Broad Street Line and the Market Frankford Line. The Broad Street Line will give you the chance to see a Flyers game and many of the cultural attractions on the Avenue of the Arts. The Market Frankford Line will allow you check out various Philadelphia neighborhoods such as Old City and the Historic District. Buses service the Philadelphia neighborhoods as well, and are easy to locate on the city streets.
You can use the SEPTA transit system right from the Convention Center or the Marriott, as both have inside access to SEPTA railway lines. The railway lines connect you to the subways and various city attractions. For all of you traveling by air, the Airport Line connects the airport with Center City in 25 minutes. For more information, visit www.septa.org/around.
Some may prefer to cab it instead of walking in the chilly February weather so, luckily, cabs are easy to come by. You can hail a cab virtually anywhere in Philadelphia, and since it is a compact city, you will get to your destination quickly. Although typically not needed, if you wanted to schedule cab service, your hotel will have a list of cab companies. A taxi is fairly inexpensive, especially traveling within the city limits. If you are a night owl or like to partake in the city's nightlife, a taxi is your best option because SEPTA may end their service before you are ready to crawl into bed.
As is the case with any metropolitan city, driving is the least desirable form of transportation. However, if you must, stash you car in a parking lot or garage near your destination, especially overnight. Go to www.philapark.org where you can compare garages by hours and rates. There are also metered parking spots, so check the signs!
Want to see the city while putting your feet up in a heated vehicle? Take the Big Bus, a double-decker bus service, which stops at more than 20 attractions, or stay on the bus for a 90-minute tour. See the sights while breathing in the fresh February air by sitting in the open-air top of the bus. The Philadelphia Trolley Works is a touring trolley that takes you on a journey through the city. The guides will explain Philadelphia history and are great at answering questions about the city. Visit http://www.phillytour.com/products-tours.php for more information on the Big Bus and the Trolley Works.
Safety in Philly
There is no way you will want to sit in your room while in Philly. So, while you are out and about, it is important to keep safe. The city of Philadelphia, in comparison to other major cities, has a low incidence of crime. However, some rules always apply: it is best to travel with more than one person, do not carry large amounts of cash, carry your cell phone, be aware of your surroundings instead of focusing on your cell phone, and stay in well lit areas at night.
Philadelphia is home to small dark alleyways that connect major streets. It is best to stick to the more crowded, larger streets. The goodwill ambassadors you see as you walk around stay in radio contact with Philadelphia police for safety needs.
Philadelphia is looking forward to welcoming you. See you in February!
Sabrina Abate is Local Arrangements Cochair.