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Philadelphia continues on its upward trend of development in terms of new construction, a restaurant renaissance, and a cultural revival. The city rests its heels on an impressive past, and thanks to aggressive civic leadership and a close-knit local community, it continues to push toward an exciting future. And in many ways, it's only started to realize its potential.Philadelphia is a place of contrasts: Grace Kelly and Rocky Balboa; Le Bec-Fin—one of the nation's finest French haute-cuisine restaurants—and the fast-food heaven of Jim's Steaks; Independence Hall and the modest Mario Lanza Museum; 18th-century national icons with 21st-century–style skyscrapers soaring above them. The Philadelphia Orchestra performs in a stunning concert hall—the focal point of efforts to transform Broad Street into a multicultural Avenue of the Arts. Along the same street, 25,000 Mummers dressed in outrageous sequins and feathers historically have plucked their banjos and strutted their stuff in a parade every New Year's Day. City residents include descendants of the staid Quaker Founding Fathers, the self-possessed socialites of the Main Line, and the unrestrained sports fans, who are as vocal as they are loyal.Philadelphia has a population of just over 1.5 million, but is known as a city of neighborhoods (some say there are 109). Shoppers haggle over the price of tomatoes in South Philly's Italian Market; families picnic in the parks of Germantown; street vendors hawk soft pretzels in Logan Circle; and all around the city vendors sell local produce and other goods at farmers' markets. There's also a strong sense of neighborhood loyalty: ask a native where he's from and he'll tell you: Fairmount, Fishtown, or Frankford, rather than Philadelphia.
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What do a 30-foot barrel-vaulted hallways, unrepentant ghosts and Al Capone have in common? This fascinating historic prison. Don’t miss a tour.
Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson / Getty Images
Philly was years ahead of the food truck trend, and the U. Penn area is where you’ll find over 50 trucks serving exciting food from around the world.
Tororo / Getty Images
I love staying on or near Rittenhouse Square. The leafy park planned by William Penn is distinctly American and yet has a European feel.
Franz Marc Frei / Getty Images
If you don’t mind the lines, Pay What You Wish Wednesday Nights are a great deal for one of the best museums in the country—the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Adam Crowley / Getty Images
Go birding at ground level, or cheat a little, and do it from 50 feet in the air with the Out on a Limb canopy walk at Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill.
Tania A. Chau / Getty Images
America’s most historic square mile contains the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and dozens other cultural sites you should probably get some photos of.
David Sucsy / Getty Images
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