Best City With the Crappiest Reputation Award

by : Mark Wade

Since I've lived here in Center City Philadelphia for quite some time now, there are a few things I know about my City.

1) Philadelphia is not as bad as Philadelphians (et al) say it is

2) I have honestly yet to hear someone say that they regret having moved into the Center City Philadelphia area

When I first moved from Philly back in 1987, I remember walking behind a well dressed older couple when I overheard the husband tell his wife to "secure her handbag...we were in the Center City area of Philadelphia. Yeah... prestigious Rittenhouse Square. Ya' moron. But that was his point of view. The city had gone to hell in a handbag, and it wasn't coming back anytime soon. Well boys and girls, anytime soon is here, and I have a unique yardstick to measure such change.

The vast differential in the poor perception of Philadelphia, and the livability of the city are miles apart. I became aware of this last night when sitting in a really hip new Asian fusion restaurant/club (The Pearl at 19th and Chestnut Streets), talking to Tiffany, my lovely Australian friend who said that when she told her parents that she had taken a job in Philadelphia, they wrinkled their collective noses, and made what seemed to be a form of a primitive grunting noise. From Australia. Perhaps someone took out a big billboard along, I dunno', Australia's Route 1 that says something like "PHILADELPHIA REALLY SUCKS". How could these folks have any idea of what our City is really like? Apparently, our reputation, albeit an old and inaccurate one, lives on.

For the last 19 years that I have spent as a Realtor here in Center City Philadelphia, I have sold to young buyers here, seen them get married here, helped them find a larger condo here and seen them have children here. Now their kids pass me on the streets of Old City or Rittenhouse Sqaure on their way to middle school. I see my past buyers at the market, the movie house, the car wash, and occasionally half crocked at two in the morning at Little Pete's, ordering the generic equivalent of a Grand Slam Breakfast. And EVERY time, I can see that they enjoy living in town, like the city, the pace, the growth, the growth in the homes values, the lifestyle, and the comfort in the easy familiarity that a "big small town" can bring. They see recognizable faces, places, events, and know the best way from Old city to Rittenhouse Square when Walnut Street is blocked up. It is big city living, without the crazy crazy pace of say New York, or Chicago. Not to mention the relative absence of noise pollution, which is so evident in those larger towns. They tell me, they hug me, and think I somehow had something to do with their happiness. I am not going to tell them any differently of course, and waste the (ill gotten) adoration. I just ask them to spread the work far and wide. And maybe take up a collection for a new billboard along Route 1 "down under" touting the virtues of our fair city.