With giant NYC less than 100 miles north and Washington, DC, due south, Philadelphia often gets knocked down the must-visit list. In many ways, though, the City of Brotherly Love can be as rewarding as its bigger neighbors. It has its own distinct traditions, and outsize food, music and art scenes – unfettered by crushing real-estate prices. Because the city’s oldest buildings are so well preserved, America’s early history and its role in building democracy is sometimes more accessible here than in the capital. Moreover, it’s a beautiful place that is easy and rewarding to explore, its streets dotted with gracious squares and linked with cobbled alleys.
For a time in its early years, Philadelphia was the second-largest city in the British Empire, after London, then, along with Boston, the Empire’s undoing. From the start of the Revolutionary War until 1790 (when Washington, DC, was founded), it was the new nation’s capital. Eventually, NYC rose as a cultural, commercial and industrial center, and Philly slipped into a decline, enhanced by the loss of industrial jobs. Some areas of the city are still blighted, but its core, from the manicured campuses of the University of Pennsylvania to the redbrick buildings of Old City, is solid.
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