Philly 2012, Part 2: The Tourist

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Map)

Summer 2012.


I've now been to Philadelphia four times; but every time only for buildings, never playing the tourist. I had to stay an extra day if I wanted to see the Phillies on this trip, which meant that I'd finally see the famously historic sites of Pennsylvania's largest city.

Arntzville did me a sizable favour by dropping me off downtown. Sure, the Red Roof Inn was located where he would be driving past Philadelphia anyway, but in order to drop me off downtown, he had to deal with stop-and-go traffic and negotiating a freeway exit & re-entry.

Thanks buddy!

After dropping my luggage off at the Four Seasons, I started towards the nearby Philadelphia Free Library. This is Philadelphia's main library branch, which provided an impressive structure to explore, read and check something on the computer.

After stopping at a place called the King of Tandoor for Indian lunch, then picking up some organic sunscreen because I could only find a Whole Foods, I returned to the Ben Franklin Parkway to make my way towards the art museum.

Since this was right along the way to Philadelphia's only lighthouse, I sort of had to run up the stairs like Rocky Balboa, right?

So I walk over, watch quite a few people run up the stairs within the minute, then hike up my shorts & sprint forward.

For some reason, I randomly remember a group of jocks from high school going here and running up these steps, then coming back and complaining about how hard it was - so I always envisioned it being difficult. In reality, I flew right up the small steps, galloping 2 or 3 at a time. It really wasn't any type of challenging tasks.

Looking out from the top of the stairs, southeast down the Ben Franklin Parkway.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art stole the show for me...forget those stairs! Look at this impressive structure!

I relaxed on a bench up there for a while, not because I was tired, but because this was such an imposing, memorable human creation.

I eventually continued past the art museum, over to the shores of the Schuylkill. This led past the water works and then past a collection of impressive rowing club boathouses.

I would have checked out all of the boathouses anyway, but the fact that the last boathouse, boathouse #15, has the Turtle Rock Lighthouse attached to it, meant that I was certainly traveling to the end of Boathouse Row.

The Schuylkill River was originally a tidal river because of its ocean ending. This would change in 1822 when the Fairmount Dam was constructed, which kept the saltwater below the dam & created a calm lake of freshwater above it. (Hence why you have all of these rowing club and skating club boathouses situated here).

Now whereas before, only coal carrying ships could utilize the canal system on the Schuylkill, with the new dam, steamboats could now travel up the river to deliver textiles and tourists. With all of this new traffic, it was decided that a lighthouse was necessary to aid river-goers in their navigation - resulting in the Turtle Rock Lighthouse being constructed in 1887.

It was originally surrounded by a wooden pavilion, but the Sedgeley Club (who still occupy the building) were granted permission to build the last boathouse, boathouse #15, around the lighthouse in 1902.

The walk back downtown didn't take that long, but apparently Harper had traded for Philadelphia in the meantime. Nice!

(Ignore that Cameroon flag in the background.)

Passing the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, I couldn't resist going inside for a look.

In general, basilicas are incredible spaces...but when you have the factor of Philadelphia being a world class city? Well, yeah. It's a amazing structure.

Started in 1846, the structure took so long to build, that it was 1864 before they finished. My half-ass'ed Wikipedia research says that the reason those windows are so high, is that due to the delays in construction, anti-Catholicism stances had grown in the meantime; meaning that they wanted to put the windows higher to make them harder to hit with stones.

I waited for the bus after the basilica, tired from walking a considerable distance. Unfortunately the bus never came, so I continued plodding along, enjoying the scenery and telling myself that my feet can rest when I'm back home.

(The above picture shows Philadelphia's incredible city hall.)

I walked up Chestnut Street until I arrived at some bell with a bunch of people taking pictures. I figured it was in my best interest to get my own picture of it, conveniently situated in front of some hall everyone seemed excited about as well.

(It's a good thing I took this picture, because apparently George Washington was appointed chief, the Declaration of Independence was adopted, the American Flag was agreed upon & the Confederation was adopted in that Independence Hall across the street! :D )

I sat in the park behind Independence Hall for a good while; then wandered into the nearby Bourse Building.

By this point I was pretty beat & ready to sit down for a while longer... off it was to the edge of the city, to the parking lot wasteland, to Citizens Bank Park!

If Roachy got two new stadiums in California this year, I had to stay here this Monday just to get one (new stadium).

In fact, this is the only baseball I saw this year!

Citizens Bank Park was constructed from 2002 to 2004 and is the fifth home of the Philadelphia Phillies. It replaced the 32-year-old Veterans Stadium, which now leveled, provides Western Parking Lot U for Citizens Bank Park.

On this day in September & today as I write this recap, I was critical of the parking lot wasteland where you'll find the stadium; but apparently they were going to build the park within walking distance of downtown, until Philadelphia's Chinatown community protested. Therefore, that's why it was built out here in the south of Philly, in the footprint of an old food warehouse.

I had heard good things about Citizens Bank Park (CBP) and had high expectations...

...and oh ho ho! What is this!?! Leffe & Hoegaarden on tap at a ballpark!?!? Sweet mother of...

Unfortunately that price was for a 12oz beer; but I still had a couple. If I lived in Philly, my wallet would bleed profusely because of this stadium attribute.

I would have to agree with others that CBP is a nice park; and it wasn't just the Leffe & Hoegaarden talking. It would be nicer if it was closer to downtown & they made use of that beautiful skyline, but forgiving that, the park is about as nice as you can get for a modern park. I didn't find it to be bland either - it wasn't modern to the point of sterile, but the concourses were wide enough, the sightlines were good, the seats were comfy and the food/beer/merch was plentiful.

Seeing as this is my 14th stadium, I'd have to rank it at #5 and that's with 2 stadiums where you're going to roll your eyes at my biases. I'd personally rank AT&T, Camden, Tiger Stadium & Safeco ahead of it (in no particular order).

The game was an exciting one as Kyle Kendrick took a no-no into the 6th inning until Rob Brantly broke it up. My boy Dominic Brown hit a dinger to right, which gave the Phillies all the runs they would need.

The Liberty Bell in center rang for Dominic Brown's dinger & again to mark the Phillies win.

Afterward, I rode the subway back downtown & found a hole-in-the-wall drinking establishment to watch the Raiders game (I had nothing better to do). Surprisingly busy for a Monday, the bar stayed open until 1:30 as I tried to kill time. I went for a walk afterwards in search of food, but could only find a McDonald's. So I hailed down a cabbie and told him to bring me to a cheesesteak joint. Now here I'm not sure if he was hosing me out of money, but he drove me quite a distance to that famous cheesesteak corner - but whatever. What was I going to do?

So I redeemed that 5-year gaffe of not asking the types of cheese, which allowed Chad to get Cheez Whiz, while I was stuck with provolone. Lots of people have grew disgusted with my desire for Cheez Whiz, but as I sat in the back of my cab, watching the television in the backseat(!), I loved that Cheezsteak.

Arriving back downtown, it was now nearly 3 a.m.. I returned to the Four Seasons for my luggage, then turned down their offer to call me a cab (I guess the type of people who stay at the Four Seasons don't walk Philly streets at 3 a.m. dragging their luggage). Walking the kilometer over to the 30th Street Station, I was impressed with the building, but dead tired. I set up my cell phone alarm & laid down on the cold, marble floor to catch an hour of sleep.

The police woke me up 10 minutes later & told me that I couldn't sleep on the floor. Moving to the uncomfortable wooden benches, I barely slept as I awaited my 5:15 Amtrak to Newark. This was the first time I rode Amtrak. I was excited to see the industrial scenery along the way, but I was instantly asleep.

In fact, I woke up with the train door open to Newark International Airport, then rushed to get off the train before the doors closed.

Thankfully I did. Newark to Toronto, Toronto to Halifax, Halifax to home.

(It was cheaper to fly out of Newark).


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1 - The Light on Turtle Rock - Lighthouse Digest

2 - Fairmount Water Works - Wikipedia

3 - Turtle Rock Light - Wikipedia

4 - Independence Hall - National Park Service

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