An estimated 38 million people visit the Philadelphia area each year. Impressive number, yes. Even more so when compared to San Diego at 32 million, Chicago at 40 million and Toronto at 21 million. But how many of them only visit the Liberty Bell or get a cheesesteak at Pat’s or Geno’s?
The city wants folks to see more than a cracked bells and Cheez Whiz, so a new Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp campaign focuses on promoting 14 specific neighborhoods–though that number is just a start. The featured ’hoods lay near Center City. Short walks or rides of 15 minutes or less for tourists were the max considered for this stage of the promotion, but that won’t be the limit longterm.
This week Mayor Nutter emceed a trolley/walking tour through three of the featured neighborhoods–East Passyunk, West Philly and South Street–for a crowd of media, Mayor’s Office personnel and Councilman Mark Squilla, who hitched a ride on the second leg of the tour.
Heading up Market Street, Nutter stood up at the front of the trolley and lectured. He paused briefly to admire the University City District’s Porch at 30th Street Station. Citizens recognized the mayor in the trolley and shouted out advice and encouragement. Surprisingly for Philly, no one booed.
The first stop was the Seeds Gallery on Baltimore Avenue in University City. Just down the street from the Dock Street Pub, the gallery’s mission is to “seed” local artists with exposure. Old friends flagged the mayor down there to say hello.
The tour restaurant-hopped in East Passyunk. Mamma Maria’s laid out fresh bruschetta with ample garlic-infused olive oil softening the crisp toast. Red and white wines chilled on the serving table. Next to the wine sat a curious glass bottle with white liquid. Milk, maybe? No. A neighbor shouted out from the back of the crowd to “try the cream.” It was cream cello, a play off of lemoncello. Before long the mayor, the councilman, the neighbors and other guests were knocking back shots yelling, “Cheers!”
Next up was the singing fountain at Passyunk and Tasker. A tatooed guy wearing a Denver Nuggets Carmelo Anthony jersey approached Nutter as he stepped off the trolley. He wanted to discuss the fact that a police investigation unnecessarily dragged his name through the mud and he never received an apology. He spoke for a few minutes and then returned to his card game next to the fountain. Yes, he was wearing a Nuggets ’Melo jersey. For real.
The tour also stopped at Brauhaus Schmitz on South Street. Lagers and hefeweizens and dopplebocks, oh my. If the first two stops hinted at Paris, Prague and Rome, then this stop blasted Munich in your face. Philly going Euro? Maybe.
For more on the campaign, go here.