0026 America’s Birthplace (USA 026—revisit, 01-026)

Philadelphia Travel Blog

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The unique City Hall

Day 015: 3 hours, 9.3—total 12.4 kms

 My first layover is in Philadelphia, and I’m not going to miss this chance to add this city to my collection.

My memories of my pre-visits to this city are a good bit darker than those of Harrisburg:

  The first memory that hits me as soon as I arrive at the bus station is February 2001, coming back from Morocco and being stuck at the Greyhound bus station for two days because of a snowstorm.  I can almost feel that experience all over, that dark, surreal sensation of being stuck in limbo, in a no man’s land between worlds.

 There was a young girl, maybe 13 years old who didn’t seem to have anyone she could call to pick her up… there was a guy whose face and skull were completely covered with tattoos… there was a talkative fellow who pretended he was stranded to just so he could camp out there at the bus station… there was a girl from Senegal that I didn’t speak English and I was proud to be able to translate for…

 I guess I could’ve called someone to pick me up, or tried to rent a car or something… but I actually wanted to live this limbo experience which sort of symbolized what my life was at that point.

I had had some pretty lifechanging experiences on my trip to Morocco, so I figured there could be no better way to let it all sink in than to chill out right there in the bus station.

 A television crew came in to film us in our plight, interview a few people, and leave… I really felt like I was one of a bunch of refugees, forgotten by the world.  And once the snow stopped, I trudged outside to go see the city.  The pristine beauty of the park was contrasted with the crude reality of seeing a homeless guy curled up next to the subway vent, trying desperately to get warm…

The Benjamin Franklin Library with its grand stairway and halls, and its internet access felt like a refuge of sort.  Thank you, Benjamin, for coming up with the idea of a free library… (and thanks, Bill Gates, for fitting them all with computers!)

 Finally after two days, bus service started up again, and my trip and my life continued on.

  But I’ll always look back on Philadelphia as my “Limbo City”.

 Other visits to Philadelphia…

 My later visits to Philadelphia were a bit more standard tourist fare with my wife… wandering through Chinatown… visiting the Liberty Bell and getting a tour of Independence Hall… Touring the “historical district” which maybe has 3 historical buildings left in it.  Kind of goes to show how much America appreciates its history.  Here we’ve got the city where America was born as a nation, and it’s all been torn down and rebuilt!   It really makes me miss Europe.

Back to the Present

 Anyways, those are my memories of this city, and now I’m going to explore it again in Minstrel Mode.

  This time it’s just enough to head across downtown to what I’ve got admit—despite my bias against Philly architecture—has got to be one of the coolest City Hall’s in the world.  It has four splendid baroque facades and a tower in the center that pierces into the sky.

From there I head on towards the Philly’s museum, hoping to take my video clip at the spot where Rocky did his little dance at the top of the stairs.  But as I approach I realize that the sun is in the wrong place, so I settle for a clip in front of the City Hall.

For my concert, I join a bunch of skyscraper construction workers on their lunch break, soaking in the Philadelphia vibe.

It’s been a rather rushed revisit, but that’s OK.


 May 08, while passing through Philly on my way to Camden, I wander around a little more and  take a couple more clips—one at the top of Rocky’s stairs—and another next to a statue of Rocky himself.

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The unique City Hall
The unique City Hall