50 Years of Best of Philly: The Suburbs

In honor of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Best of Philly this August, we’re taking a monthly look back. This month: the Suburbs!

bop50 suburbs taylor swift

BOP50: Once upon a time, she was just a girl from the suburbs. / Photograph by John Mabangalo/Getty Images

In honor of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Best of Philly this August, we’re taking a monthly look back. Last month, we looked back at City Life. So, this month, it’s the suburbs!

In late 2008, 18-year-old American country singer Taylor Swift released Fearless, an album that spent 11 weeks atop the Billboard charts, sold 12 million copies worldwide, and catapulted her into the sonic stratosphere. The following August, we named her our Best Philly Teen Idol, saying, “We knew the first time we heard ‘Tim McGraw’ that this Wyomissing-bred country singer was headed for stardom.”

Wait — Wyomissing? Like, 60 miles and two counties away from Philly? We would get it if it was Wissinoming, the Northeast Philly neighborhood. But Wyomissing? The borough no one could find on a map before one Taylor Alison Swift took our hands and dragged us there headfirst (fearless!)?

Such is this magazine’s elastic, ever-changing definition of “the suburbs.” In the early days, there was a simple criterion — an editor lived there. (There were a LOT of Cherry Hill winners in the early years, thanks to editor Maury Levy’s residence.) Still, it would require an edict for Best of Philly to encompass “Philly” instead of just Philly.

“It began to dawn on us that there was indeed life beyond the city’s limits,” we wrote in the 1982 issue, which took that pronouncement one step further, dedicating the entire package to the Best of the Suburbs (with a small Best of Center City alongside). Today, we recognize that our readership is spread across seven counties — plus the Shore — so we scour both the city and the ’burbs for the best of the best.

As for 2009’s Best Philly Teen Idol? Well, we gladly still claim her … and her Eagles t-shirt hanging from the door.

BOP50 Suburbs Timeline

Notable wins and winners


Pulsations, Delco nightclub (with a 2,000-person capacity) was named Best Suburban Singles Nightspot in 1984. “Futuristic sound and light effects worthy of a Steven Spielberg film,” we wrote. Wonder how much of that was the coke.


Best Local Boy Made Big in Hollywood: “Celeb-of-the-minute Chris Young. One day a nerdy sophomore in Malvern, the next the nerdy computer-kid star of the TV hit-of-the-minute, Max Headroom.”


The Best Reason to Hate Atlantic City in 1988 was “the day Donald Trump held a one-man show at Trump’s Castle so all the people who lose their money there could buy his self-promoting book.” At least we’re consistent.

By the Numbers. 1,600: Copies of The Art of the Deal signed by Donald Trump


Best Low-Key Main Line Town: “Little Narberth has gone from being ‘the armpit of the Main Line’ to its yuppie capital.” Which got us to thinking — what’s the armpit of the Main Line today?


Best Dinner With the Kids: “With its overhead choo-choo, crayons, toys and appealing kiddies menu, the pseudo-vintage Ruby’s Diner in Suburban Square. Great fun, great veggie burgers.” The very next winner that year? Best Place to Meet Divorced Dads: Ruby’s Diner.


Taylor Swift in 2008 / Photograph by John Mabangalo/Getty Images

And, of course, 2009’s Best Philly Teen Idol, Taylor Swift, shown here singing the national anthem before Game 3 of the 2008 World Series.


To see more of 50 years of Best of Philly, explore our BOP50 rewinds, here.

Published as “BOP 50: Suburban Life!” in the July 2024 issue of Philadelphia magazine.