Philadelphia: Fat City

Spent 11 hours in Philadelphia yesterday. Not exactly enough time to get a real feel for a place. It’s the second time I’ve been there — both times for Reactivity.

This time was a real whirlwind — because of a weather issue, we ended up taking the red-eye from San Francisco, getting to PHL at 7a, getting into our downtown hotel around 8a, then taking a shower and heading out for lunch a little bit later.

A few impressions: driving into Philly, it really feels a lot like what I think of as the prototypical East Coast industrial port city — made even more prototypical by the 40 degree rain. Brrr. But you know what I’m talking about: lots of green steel bridges, lots of gray skies, lots of processing factories steaming into the sky.

But driving through the city, all I could think of was Ben Franklin. All the red bricks, the Revolution Era buildings — impossible not to feel that history. It turns out that we had lunch at the King of Prussia Mall, on our way out to see a customer in Valley Forge, PA — with some history in of its own.

One of the parts of travel that I’ve really enjoyed is getting to see all these places (like Valley Forge) that have always just been names in books. Living over here in California, I sometimes forget that places have history. The history that I feel most acutely here is Silicon Valley history — which is really not very old. 50ish years. Sometimes I think in terms of California history — but, again, not so old.

Anyway, I like going to places with a bit of a sense of time. I’ve been out of the states a few times now — including to Thailand for a bit, and Ireland & the UK for a few weeks — and those places have a “history around us” feeling, too. But something about places in American history still moves me.

Anyway, Philadelphia isn’t a place that I’d really like to live, I don’t think, but 11 hours at a time isn’t really enough, either.

Watch for lots of posts coming up this week as my travels take me to Toronto, Rochester NY, Montreal (for the first time), and Manhattan — and, if I’m lucky, to a bonus destination on Friday: Memphis.

Comments are closed.