Philadelphia: Where Arrogance Meets Insecurity


Dear Philadelphia,

Without you, we might not even have a country. It was there on the shores of the Delaware River that our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. Then, like eleven years later, after the Revolution, our beloved Constitution was ratified under your watch.

You were even the young country’s capital for a while before that DC place got itself together. The President’s House sat in your midst, home to George Washington and then John Adams.

But you’re way more than some stodgy history—no need to glory days it like they do in Upstate New York. You’re alive and well.

A metropolitan population of 6.2 million, seventh in the entire country. And a metro GDP that’s ninth. The two that jumped you are Boston and San Francisco—nothing to be ashamed of there.

Home to Comcast, Five Below, Urban Outfitters, Pep Boys, Rite Aid, and a bunch of other stuff. Smart people tell me you’re suddenly a magnet for IT and biotech as well.

And your cultural influence—where do I even start?

Music: You can claim Billie Holiday, Hall & Oates, Todd Rundgren, Jim Croce, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Patti LaBelle, Joan Jett, The Roots, Eve, Pink, and…Boyz II Men. I mean, who doesn’t like this song?


Movies: A few big ones are Baby Mama, Trading Places, and The Sixth Sense. Then there’s Philadelphia, the one named after you. Yeah it was really depressing, and so was the Bruce Springsteen song, but it still counts. And, of course, Rocky!


TV: We’ll go with Cold Case, This Is Us (sort of), and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, to name a few.

Sports: First of all, Kobe Bryant was born there. Then you got the four major sports teams—the Eagles (NFL), Phillies (MLB), 76ers (NBA), and Flyers (NHL)—all of whom have won at least one title. And just for good measure, you got soccer too.

Other famous people: There are way too many—here’s a list. Let me just say that you have some serious personality in that place. Tina Faye, Kevin Hart, and Bob Saget?!

Food: Let’s see. Philly cheesesteaks, the roast pork sandwich, pretzels to die for, and Wawa, makers of hands down the best hoagies in the country. Don’t forget about Reading Terminal Market, the ethnic stuff, and all the usual upscale spots.

Basically, you got it going on, Philadelphia.

Sure, some people think you come across as arrogant. But I get it. If you were located anywhere else in the country, you’d be the big boss. (You know, like Chicago in the Midwest.) But you’re not.

And that gets me to why I’m writing in the first place…

You seem to have a bit of a chip on your shoulder.

I don’t know, maybe a touch of insecurity.

And I think I got it figured out.

You’re in that snobby BosWash corridor, the one with like 52 million people. That means around 88 percent of those people don’t live in Philadelphia, and they’re going places.

Places like Boston, New York City, and Washington, DC.

New York is bigger. So is DC. And Boston—remember that economy thing?

Everywhere you look, these guys are killing you.

You got UPenn. Boston has Harvard and MIT.

The Curtis Institute of Music? New York has Juilliard.

Museums? Damn New York again. And have you heard of the Smithsonian?

Your airport? Let’s not go there.

Even on the minor stuff, you can’t shed them.

Walkability? You’re eighth. Your three buddies are ahead of you.

Public transit? You’re sixth. Your buddies—yeah.

Bikeability? The neighbors are in the top 10. You—never mind.

No wonder your sports fans are so angry. Well, that and the fact that your current teams have won a combined seven championships compared to Boston’s 38. Winning seems to mean way more than just winning. It’s almost like you’re secretly a Rust Belt city. (Actually, not to make you feel bad, but the city did lose half a million people between 1950 and 2000.)

Anyway, IMO, you’re overreacting about all this stuff.

My advice—keep your head up, kid. It could be a lot worse.

You could be Pittsburgh.

Or Baltimore.



An Upstate New Yorker


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