Laying the groundwork

This is the street that I live on right now, off-campus at La Salle University in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. I like to think of it as the French Riviera of La Salle. It’s a pretty nice place, but it’s really far from the city. It’s a city of 1.2 million people, and the public transportation really isn’t very good in places outside Center City, unless you like taking three buses. So even though my house is nice, my street is cool, and my elderly neighbors let us use their electric lawnmower for our postage stamp-sized lawn. We also have a tree.

There are a lot of area in Philadelphia that are really cool, and it’s a unique city in that each of the sections have a lot of flavor. The outlying sections of the city that are still technically part of it are Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Germantown, the Northeast, South Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia, Southwest Philadelphia, Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Manayunk, and Roxboro. Collectively, the middle part of the city, our “downtown,” is called Center City, and there are sections of that, too, each with its own unique flavor. The outlying sections are usually cheaper, but Center City provides a lot of entertainment, convenience, nice places, and cool people.

Chestnut Hill is an older section, about 25 minutes out of Center City. It’s mostly filled with established families and wealthy couples. Mt. Airy is right next to it, and was a bad area for a long time. Now a lot of young families and really progressive young people are moving in and the real estate is pretty cheap. Germantown is mostly a tough neighborhood, but there are a few nice places, though it’s often hard to tell. The Northeast is the biggest part of Philadelphia, and it’s filled with tract homes and strip malls and the Boulevard (US Route 1), and is mostly established blue-collar families. The public transportation isn’t very good there, and it’s not a very happening place. Manayunk and Roxboro are definitely the two places on the rise in Philly, due to a large student population, a great Main Street with lots of cool bars, and gentrification (leading to cheap places). North Philadelphia is also a tough neighborhood for the most part, but the areas around Temple and Girard Ave. are usually cheap, pretty nice, and filled with a lot students. Fishtown and Northern Liberties are areas that are easily accessible by subway, cheap, and starting to move up in the food chain. Converted warehouses, refurbished apartment buildings, and high-class bars and restaurants have made this a desirable location for many students. These areas are just starting to get nice, though, so there are often extremely nice blocks next to really bad ones.

South and West Philadelphia are the two areas we’re looking in, so I’ll talk about those next time. Center City should always be an option, too, because sometimes places are really cheap. Until then, though…

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