A story usually starts with a beginning, but this one, this new blog, starts with an ending.
For the past two years and nine months, I have been fortunate enough to call Philadelphia home. I moved here two months out of college for grad school after spending the summer back home in New York. I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I knew nobody in the city and my only previous impression were the trips I made here with my dad when I was younger. I could tell you where Penn was, and Pat’s. But nothing else.
Moving to Philly, however, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Since coming here I have fallen head over heels in love with this town. My friends back home in New York complain that it’s nothing like New York, but that’s what makes Philadelphia so damn wonderful. Despite being the nation’s fifth largest city, being within spitting distance of New York and DC, having a slew of universities, and four major sports teams, Philadelphia feels small town and provincial. It is a city of neighborhoods, of stories, of great food and simple living. It is very not like New York and I love it for that reason. I came here thinking I would leave immediately after school, but I didn’t want to. The city, it’s manageability and easiness among many other things, lured me to stay.
But like all good things, my time in Philly is coming to a close. After taking a job here that lasted six short months, I was once again looking for work. I’m an urban planner, and despite wanting to stay here, there were simply no jobs available in my field. Three months after I lost my first job, I found my next job with a better firm, but unfortunately, would require me to pack up and take off. Luckily, that move won’t be too far; I’ll be easing my way down the Northeast Corridor to our nation’s capital, Washington, DC. Although I am moving out of Philly, my time here isn’t quite finished. My boyfriend of over two and a half years has a couple more years of med school to go, which means I get to come back to Philly quite a bit between now and 2015.
The attitudes that Philadelphians have towards their neighbors in New York and DC, and vice versa, inspired me to start this blog. Washington and Philly do have a lot in common; both are large centers of business, both have deep roots and connections to the development of our nation, and both face high degrees of racial and ethnic segregation. But while Philadelphia is provincial and blue collar at heart, Washington is worldly and enlightened. In Philadelphia, it isn’t uncommon to find families who have lived in the city or metro area for generations, with large ethnic enclaves spread across the city. Washington is famous for being transient; where college grads and other professionals come to work for a short period, then relocate elsewhere to move onto the next stage in their career or settle down. Philadelphia is grungy, hipstery, and trying to find its place in the American industrial chain of command. Washington is, and forever will be, the nexus of government and social change. In Philadelphia, you’ll find lots of local coffee shops, fixie bikes, dive bars, and excellent restaurants across all price ranges in all neighborhoods. Washington’s signature characteristic is a Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, Chipotle, and Panera within 1 block of every Metro stop (or so I’m told, but I’m hoping it’s more diverse than that).
So as I prepare to leave Philly behind and start the next chapter of my life in DC, I hope to continue to explore and talk more about the major differences and similarities between the two cities. While I am sad to leave this town, I am excited for a change of scenery and to explore a brand new city. I hope you’ll join me as I take this journey, continuously comparing The City of Brotherly Love and The District.