Explore History And History In The Making In Philadelphia

- June 1, 2016

Some might stay Philadelphia is hotter than ever. Following its successful run on the world’s stage last September hosting His Holiness Pope Francis, the city once again finds itself in the spotlight this summer, entertaining presidential hopefuls and supporters at the 2016 Democratic National Convention July 25–28. The convention’s tagline, “Let’s Make History Again,” seems appropriate for the City of Brotherly Love, the first U.S. city crowned a UNESCO World Heritage City in fall 2015. Philadelphia plans to give the DNC a historic twist: Alongside the convention, Politicalfest will run daily July 22–27 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., boasting 125,000 square feet of non-partisan exhibits documenting the history of government, the road to the White House and more. That’s far from the only historically minded campaign underway in Philadelphia. You may have seen one of the commercials already: A Godzilla-sized Benjamin Franklin battles a Goliath-like cheesesteak to prove just how much Philadelphia offers visitors aside from the more well-known icons. Yet research shows most visitors to Philadelphia do not or do not plan to spend much time exploring the historic district. After receiving two $1 million grants from H.F. Lenfest and the state Department of Community Economic Development, Visit Philadelphia aims to change those statistics with a new marketing initiative spotlighting the historic district, spanning from the Delaware River to Seventh Street and from Vine to Lombard streets. Among the highlights of the campaign: enhanced historical programming, a Historic Philadelphia Pass and the Once Upon a Nation program. Qatar Airways brought a bit of fanfare to Philadelphia International Airport in 2014 when it launched flights between the city and its Doha hub and again in January 2016, when the airline made Philly the first U.S. city with service on its new Airbus A350 aircraft. Philadelphia International Airport’s new CEO, Rochelle Cameron, looks to introduce even more changes. Expansion plans for the airport include lengthening two runways, replacing current rental car lots with a consolidated building, and designing an automated system for transporting passengers between terminals. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Cameron outlined her three priorities for the airport. Priority No. 1 is enhancing the passenger experience, followed by rehabbing the existing airport terminals and continuing with an expansion plan outlined in 2012 at between $6.4 and $10.5 billion. Currently, more than 30 million people transit at PHL annually, and the airport offers 550 daily departures to 128 worldwide cities.

Philadelphia City Hall

Philadelphia City Hall © PAUL BRADY | DREAMSTIME.COM

Supporting the nation’s sixth-largest workforce, with more than 25 Fortune 1,000 companies headquartered in Philadelphia, the city boasts a number of features attractive to business and businesspeople — a strategic position on the East Coast, the shortest commute time of large East Coast metros and the lowest rental rate for Class A office and industrial space as compared to New York; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Atlanta, just to name a few. More than 40 percent of the U.S. population is reachable within a one-day drive of Philadelphia. Education and health services represent the largest economic sector in Philadelphia by employment, at nearly 30 percent. Future growth is anticipated in health care innovation, with more than 2,000 medical technology companies based in the Greater Philadelphia region. Leading companies driving business in Philadelphia include American Airlines, Citizens Bank, Comcast, Temple University, Vanguard, GSK, Independence, Wells Fargo and UPS, among many others. Philadelphia remains a hotbed for higher education, with more than 100 degree-granting institutions and around 500,000 full- and part-time students. Compared to the national average, Greater Philadelphia, comprising the 11 counties across northern Delaware, southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, ranks higher for residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. If projections offer any indication, the future only looks brighter for the city of Philadelphia. The recently announced Schuylkill Yards project aims to be a next-generation innovation community. The $3.5 billion project, the most ambitious in the city since the 1950s and a joint partnership between Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust, will develop 14 acres into a community of start-ups, companies, researchers, artists and residents with the goal of thwarting displacement and the other negative effects of gentrification. With an eye on the past and a vision to the future, Philadelphia sets its own course.

SCENIC DRIVES

For a glimpse of iconic Philadelphia, drive through Fairmont Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States, along Kelly and Lincoln drives. Kelly Drive runs parallel to the Schuylkill River, and the journey continues alongside rowers competing on the river and runners jogging its shore to the quaint Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Check out trendy New Hope, Pa., located about 40 miles from Philadelphia. The route along the banks of the Delaware River crosses country roads, farmland and a number of other towns worth a visit. Head “down the shore,” a favorite pastime for Philadelphians on summer weekends. The approximately 90-minute journey can be mapped on expressways or on the more scenic back roads of southern New Jersey.