South Philadelphia is home to Philadelphia’s sports/entertainment district. The City’s four major sport teams—the Phillies, Eagles, 76ers, and Flyers—all play in south Philadelphia. There’s more to this neighborhood than the stadiums and I think from a tourist’s perspective this is a great neighborhood to wander around. There’s a cluster of only in Philadelphia experiences in this neighborhood that would leave a tourist with a favorable impression of the city.
The Philadelphia Phillies play at Citizens Bank Park. It’s a nice stadium although I think a bit too cookie cutter in the retro stadium mold—there’s no distinct or defining feature that separates this stadium from any of the others that have been constructed since Camden Yards. Ashburn Alley is a large concourse that runs behind the outfield wall. In the far corner of this concourse is a children’s play area which includes rock climbing up a Philadelphia skyline. Stadiums have come a long way since Veterans Stadium.
I usually drive to the stadiums or take the subway bypassing the great South Philadelphia neighborhoods. One day I decided to walk along Broad Street to see what I was missing. There are a couple of terrific, old-school store fronts, like the Boot & Saddle. Walking Broad Street also shows the creative parking of South Philadelphia residents who use the center median as parking spaces—only in Philadelphia. I believe the City has tried cracking down on this unique parking setup but they’d be disturbing a parking institution.
The High School for Creative & Performing Arts is stunning building for public learning. This area has a Sounds of South Philly mural at Broad and Tasker Street that captures on the musical talent that was raised in South Philadelphia’s Golden Years. There’s also a new mural to Octavius Catto on the side of the Universal Charter School on Catherine Street.
This area is also home to two distinct residential communities—Girard Estates, which has American Craftsmen style homes, and Packer Park, a collection of brick row homes. The two communities are divided by I-76 but there is a nifty pedestrian underpass that connects them.
Hive Coffee has counter seating along a window that looks out on Broad Street. It’s one of my favorite seats in the city.
At the far southern end of South Philadelphia, where Broad Street meets the Delaware River is the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Tax credits have brought businesses to this ship yard (making it easier for people from New Jersey and Delaware to reach these jobs than people from Philadelphia—another great vision of Philadelphia leaders gone to waste), however, there are still remnants of Philadelphia’s shipbuilding past. This includes old buildings, housing for captains, and decommissioned military boats. Dinic’s has an outpost here. For Halloween one year, property management engaged a designer to install tentacle like arms coming out of the building—gimmicky, perhaps, but it was cool to see in person.