Philadelphia Sights

Philadelphia continues on its upward trend of development in terms of new construction, a restaurant renaissance, and a cultural revival. The city rests its heels on an impressive past, and thanks to aggressive civic leadership and a close-knit local community, it continues to push toward an exciting future. And in many ways, it’s only started to realize its potential.

Philadelphia is a

place of contrasts: Grace Kelly and Rocky Balboa; Vetri—one of the nation's finest Italian haute-cuisine restaurants—and the fast-food heaven of Jim's Steaks; Independence Hall and the modest Mario Lanza Museum; 18th-century national icons with 21st-century–style skyscrapers soaring above them. The Philadelphia Orchestra performs in a stunning concert hall—the focal point of efforts to transform Broad Street into a multicultural Avenue of the Arts. Along the same street, 25,000 Mummers dressed in outrageous sequins and feathers historically have plucked their banjos and strutted their stuff in a parade every New Year's Day. City residents include descendants of the staid Quaker Founding Fathers, the self-possessed socialites of the Main Line, and the unrestrained sports fans, who are as vocal as they are loyal.

Philadelphia has a population of just over 1.5 million, but is known as a city of neighborhoods (some say there are 109). Shoppers haggle over the price of tomatoes in South Philly's Italian Market; families picnic in the parks of Germantown; street vendors hawk soft pretzels in Logan Circle; and all around the city vendors sell local produce and other goods at farmers' markets. There’s also a strong sense of neighborhood loyalty: ask a native where he's from and he'll tell you: Fairmount, Fishtown, or Frankford, rather than Philadelphia.

Today you can find Philadelphia's compact 5-square-mile downtown (William Penn's original city) between the Delaware and the Schuylkill (pronounced skoo-kull) rivers. Thanks to Penn's grid system of streets—laid out in 1681—the downtown area is a breeze to navigate. The traditional heart of the city is Broad and Market streets (Penn's Center Square), where City Hall now stands. Market Street divides the city north and south; 130 South 15th Street, for example, is in the second block south of Market Street. North–south streets are numbered, starting with Front (1st) Street, at the Delaware River, and increasing to the west. Broad Street is the equivalent of 14th Street. The diagonal Benjamin Franklin Parkway breaks the rigid grid pattern by leading from City Hall out of Center City into Fairmount Park, which straddles the Schuylkill River and Wissahickon Creek for 10 miles.

Although Philadelphia is the sixth-largest city in the nation (about 1.5 million people live in the city, more than 6 million in the metropolitan area), it maintains a small-town feel. It's a cosmopolitan, exciting, but not overwhelming city, a town that's easy to explore on foot yet big enough to keep surprising even those most familiar with it.

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Old City 37

Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Fairmount 27

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Society Hill 14

Northwestern Philadelphia 12

South Philadelphia 8

Penn's Landing 8

University City and West Philadelphia 6

City Line Avenue 2

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Philadelphia Sights

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USS Becuna

  • Nautical Site/Lighthouse

You can tour this 307-foot-long "guppy class" submarine, which was commissioned in 1944 and conducted search-and-destroy missions in...

USS Olympia

  • Nautical Site/Lighthouse

Commodore George Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila in the Spanish-American War is the only remaining ship from that war. Dewey...

United States Mint

  • Museum/Gallery

The first U.S. mint was built in Philadelphia at 16th and Spring Garden streets in 1792, when the Bank of North America adopted dollars...

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

  • Museum/Gallery

Rare treasures from the deepest jungles and ancient tombs make this one of the finest archaeological and anthropological museums in the...

Valley Green (Wissahickon Park)

  • Park/Playground

There are many great sections of Fairmount Park, but the 1,800 acres around Valley Green known as Wissahickon Park may be the most stunning...

Washington Square

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

This leafy area resembling a London park has been through numerous incarnations since it was set aside by William Penn. From 1705 until...

Welcome Park

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

A scale model of the Penn statue that tops City Hall sits on a 60-foot-long map of Penn's Philadelphia, carved in the pavement of Welcome...


  • House/Mansion/Villa

The Naomi Wood collection of antique household goods, including Colonial furniture, unusual clocks, and English delftware, and designated...

Woodmere Art Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

This modest-sized museum has trouble drawing a crowd due to its location halfway down the other side of the hill from Chestnut Hill's...


  • House/Mansion/Villa

Between the 1690s and 1973, Wyck sheltered nine generations of the Wistar-Haines family. Their accumulated furnishings are on display,...