Teresa Levonian Cole has written another article about Philadelphia for a British publication, this one called “Why Philadelphia really is the big cheese.” It bears some similarities to her piece “A taste of Philly” that ran in the Financial Times last year. Both are extremely positive and will probably drum up tourism, so far be it from us to complain. But is Philadelphia truly so one-dimensional that the same things must be said again and again?
Last year, the writer quoted the Philadelphia Musuem of Art’s Norman Keyes as saying:
“The Philadelphian ethic is both generous and discreet. So perhaps we don’t trumpet our virtues as much as we should.”
This year, she quotes the Museum’s Carlos Basualdo as saying:
“Quaker values are about modesty and simple living. We are much less flashy here than, say, in New York. Perhaps that is why we do not trumpet what we have to offer.”
Those museum folks are really on message.
Last year, she wrote:
Penn has never lost his hero status in the city he founded, and his Quaker principles of modesty and philanthropy persist, manifesting themselves in the city’s vibrant cultural scene.
This year she writes:
A Quaker heritage, which persists to this day, has much to do with the quiet philanthropy that informs the city’s cultural scene.
The leif motif of Philadelphia as quiet or modest will surprise anyone who’s forced to take SEPTA during rush hour.
One big difference in the two pieces is this year’s “What to Avoid”:
- Philadelphia is basically a safe city, but some parts of Northern Liberties are best avoided.
- The rather tacky South Street – unless it is to queue for cheesesteaks at Jim’s.
- The displays at the famous Franklin Institute Science Museum are dated and the museum is rather disappointing – unless it is to loop the loop in a F-4 Phanthom jet simulator.
Levonian Cole’s point about the Franklin Institute (The Museum Formerly Known As The Franklin) stings a little, but while Philly lifers are filled with nostalgia when they visit the Heart or Planetarium, it surely looks different to outsiders. Dustier, for one thing.