Growing Up in Center City in the ’70s and ’80s

It was a different Philadelphia back then.

Children playing in the Art Museum fountains, August 1973.

Children playing in the Art Museum fountains in August 1973. Photograph by Dick Swanson/The National Archive

Well, I did it. I finally wrote about what it was like growing up in Center City. I think I’ll carry the article around (it’s in the August print edition of Philly Mag) so when I’m faced with the below exchange — usually at a bar — I can just hand it out. Here’s how it goes:

Random Person: Where are you from?
Me: Philly.
RP: Born and raised?
Me: Born and raised.
RP: What part?
Me: Center City.
RP: That’s unusual.
Me: I guess so.
RP: Where in Center City?
Me: Mostly 22nd and Spruce.
RP: Oh, wow – in Center City.
Me: Yup.
RP: What was that like?

Here’s my answer.

Growing Up in Philadelphia: The Lost City

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  • Jennifer Wing

    Great job describing what it was like to come of age at that time, in Philly. To this day, when I return to visit friends, we will often meet at “the goat” in the park.

  • Susan

    I have this exact conversation all the time – like we’re some sort of rare breed! Really enjoyed your article. I’ve also been a staunch defender of all things Philadelphia even when there was little to defend, so now I’m thrilled that the city is having such a renaissance. But the mention of Day’s Deli and the SamEric really brought me back!

  • mikey madnez

    My cousin Jimmy was KAP , thanks for the shout out.

  • Abby

    Great article! I was only 8 when I left but I still remember a lot of this imagery. 12th and Rodman!

  • TJ

    I heard before Rocky, Philly was just a PISS stop between NYC and DC