Local traditions and culture in Philadelphia

  • Local Customs
    by solopes
  • A steak sandwich from a pushcart w/onions and wiz
    A steak sandwich from a pushcart...
    by dlandt
  • From Tony Luke's sit down section
    From Tony Luke's sit down section
    by dlandt

Most Viewed Local Customs in Philadelphia

  • solopes's Profile Photo


    by solopes Updated Dec 17, 2013

    Animating tourist spaces is a common solution. Making it with sense and good taste a different thing. Entering the Independence visitor center, the waiting lines were "softened" by a gentlemen in costume, playing the sweet instrument calling dulcimer. It was a free extra, well performed, providing us some pleasant momments.

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    The roast pork, provolone and rapini sandwich

    by dlandt Written Mar 29, 2012

    Everyone knows about the Philly cheese steak, but not many people know of its younger brother. This sandwich is far lkess well known and far less readily available than the steaks, but is definitely worth the time to find. The meat here is sliced from a roast, which means it is very juicy and soaks the bread. The sharp provolone adds a distinct bite to the taste, which complements the bitterness of the rapini, the first time I've ever seen that vegetable used on any sandwich, anywhere.

    Sadly, I'm not entirely sure how easily one can find this sandwich. I ate this one at Tony Luke's on recommendation of a friend, Julie (VT's travelmad478). Tony Luke's is under the I-95 overpass in South Philly, not exactly on the beaten path but not too hard to get to. They served it with peperoncini and cherry peppers on the side. Yuengling went well alongside.

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    Gay Rights Historical Marker

    by yooperprof Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Philadelphia has a vital glbtq community, and played a significant role in the national struggle for rights and recognition in the late 20th century. Appropriately, the city claims to have the first official historical marker in the USA commemorating an important landmark in glbtq history. And it's right in front of Independence Hall: not at all an out-of-the-way or obscure location!

    Gay Rights Demonstrations
    July 4 1965-1969

    Annual public demonstrations for gay and lesbian equality were held at Independence Hall. These peaceful protests and New York's Stonewall riots in 1969 and Pride Parade in 1970 transformed a small national campaign into a civil rights movement.

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  • luvtrvlg's Profile Photo

    Philadelphia Airport as a connection

    by luvtrvlg Written Apr 23, 2008


    Okay, Your Port of Entry to the US will be Philadelphia and you will definitely have to go through customs and immigration. YES - you will have to claim your luggage there and check your luggage back to your doemstic flight to New Hampshire. 2 hours might be cutting it a bit too close so I would recommend at least 3 hours, so you won't be rushing and worrying about checking in your luggage and all that.

    Hope this info helps! Philadelphia, Newark, JFK and La Guardia are most of the airports I use.



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    Parking in Philly!

    by machomikemd Written Aug 16, 2007

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    Narrow, 18th-century streets have resulted in a 21st-century challenge: parking.

    Your best option for the Historic District and Center City -- especially if you plan to park once and walk or take public transit -- is to use a garage.

    The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PHONE: 215/683-9600, www.philapark.org) operates several garages in key locations, including 5th and Market streets (near Independence Mall), and offers some of the city's most competitive rates.

    Additional operators include Central Parking System (PHONE: 215/564-4242) and Parkway Corporation (PHONE: 215/569-8400, www.parkwaycorp.com). Also, hotel packages offered through Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. (www.gophila.com) often include parking.

    If you plan to move your car over the course of a day, or if you enjoy the thrill of the hunt, try for on-street parking. Meters and restrictions in many-but not all-parts of Center City are Monday through Saturday only.

    Meters typically cost $1/hour, payable in change, or by using a Smart Card. Available in $20 denominations, Smart Cards are sold through the Parking Authority Web site, or by calling 215/222-9100.

    While most meters restrict parking to two hours, there are longer-term (at least four hours) metered spaces in the Historic District on Front Street, between Market and Dock Streets, and on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 20th and 26th streets.

    Let the street parker beware: meter attendants track spaces regularly during posted hours. Never leave your car unattended in a no-parking or tow away zone.

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    Tipping in Philly!

    by machomikemd Written Aug 14, 2007

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    Bartender - 10-15% of bar bill
    Headwaiter/Maitre d' - nothing unless special services are provided; in that case, about $5 (more for exceptional services)
    Waiter/Waitress - 15-20% of bill
    Wine Steward - 15-20% of wine bill
    Server at counter - 15-20% of bill; generally a minimum of $1
    Coat Check attendant - $1-2 per coat
    Restroom attendant - $1-$2
    Valet park attendant - $1-$2

    Bellman - $1-$2 per bag; $5-10 for running errands
    Concierge - $10 for a special effort such as handling airline tickets; offer the tip after each service or at the end of your stay
    Chambermaid - generally no tip for one-night stays; $2-$5 per night for longer stays
    Doorman - $1-$2 for hailing a cab; $2-$5 for unloading baggage
    Room-service waiter - 15-20% of bill
    Valet park attendant - $1-$2

    Driver - 15-20% of fare; generally a minimum of $1

    Skycap - $1-2 per bag

    Personal Care
    Barber - 15% of the cost; generally a minimum of $1
    Hairdresser - 15% of bill for one operator; if several operators, 10% of bill to haircutter/colorist/stylist, 10% divided among others
    Manicurist - $3-$5 (more if manicure runs more than about $25)

    Sports Arena
    Usher - $1-2 per party if shown to your seat

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    A Chinatown celebration

    by spgood301 Written Feb 19, 2007

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    Philly's Chinatown comes alive during the Chinese New Year celebrations. Obviously, it's only once a year but check it out if you're in town at that time. The parade happens on 10th Street, between Race and Cherry. The costumes, the firecrackers...it's nothing but fun!

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  • davecallahan's Profile Photo


    by davecallahan Updated Feb 10, 2007

    I am not sure if this is a Philly thing or just a big city thing but the small town we come from does it differently.

    When we have a funeral, the person is "layed out" for viewing in a funeral parlor, then hearsed (with long line of vehicled mourners) to the church for services, then hearsed again to the cemetery for last words and burial.

    We attended a Philly-style funeral for relatives in Feasterville.
    The uncle-in-law had a viewing in a funeral parlor which had a chapel attached where services took place and then he was whisked away to another part of the property where the burial took place. The funeral people sort of had a monopoly on the whole process and I never saw a hearse.

    No judgment on this, neither good nor bad. Just pointing out something I found a bit unusual (poor country relative that I am).

    (I looked but could not find the Mass card with the funeral directors name, but I remember it was in Sunset Cementery because I thought the name was appropriate)

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  • dmarino622's Profile Photo

    Philadelphia Fringe

    by dmarino622 Written Jan 31, 2007

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    You are likely to see an amazing variety of people in Philadelphia. Many people will belong to fringe groups: punks, skaters, goths, etc. etc. It certainly keeps things interesting. On the other hand, they tend to be stand-offish. If you want to speak with native Philadelphians, you will likely have to start the conversation yourself since they will probably not initiate it. The conversation will likely start like this "so why did you decide to get a full body tattoo?" or "how long did it take you to get your mohawk like that?" You can definitely meet some interesting people. Although there are plenty of average folk, there is definitely a way above average amount of people with tattoos in Philadelphia and in the Philadelphia metropolitan area in general.

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    Philadelphia Talk

    by dmarino622 Written Jan 31, 2007

    In my experience, Philadelphians generally do not have much of an accent. Many do mispronounce "o" and for example the weather might be "cohld." It's close to a Baltimore accent but not as think. One of the many culinary inventions of Philadelphia is Italian Ice, only they call them "Water Ice." I refuse to call them such but regardless of what you call them, they are yummy. Also, subs are called "hoagies." You are likely to see signs for "pizzas and steaks." Steaks are cheesesteaks. Also, a Philadelphia food is Panzerotti. It's a tasty fried crust concoction with pizza cheese inside.

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    Mutter Museum

    by Sue08080 Updated Jul 1, 2006

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    Philadelphia just may lead the nation in weird museums starting with the Mutter Museum, home of President Grover Cleveland's cancerous jawbone (in a jar), John Marshall's bladder stones, and a section of John Wilkes Booth's neck. Here you can also see a "fascinating" collection of 2,000 things doctors have removed from people's stomachs.

    The collection of more than 20,000 items is designed to give the layman a beneath-the-surface perspective of what physicians study.

    The web site is for the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

    For more weird museums see my Philly Travelogue.

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    Festivals and goings on . . .

    by acemj Updated Aug 6, 2005

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    You can always take a look in a local weekly like City Paper or just by checking on a website such as philly.com for a listing of local festivals and events. In the summer there is a great Brazilian Festival in Northeast Philly (pictured here). During the first week of July there is the Philadelphia Freedom Festival, the Mummer's Parade is in January and in February, you'll find a great Mardis Gras celebration on South Street. There's a big music and food festival down at Penn's Landing called Jam on the River on Memorial Day weekend (May) and in September there's a very cool arts event called the Fringe Festival that displays cutting edge art of all kinds at locations all over town.

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  • Cheez Whiz

    by peach93 Updated Feb 1, 2005

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    The people in this city have a thing for Cheez Whiz. I mention this because fairly often when you order something in a restaurant and ask for cheese on said item, this is what you will be served unless you specify otherwise ahead of time. It happened to me, so just be aware.

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    Fete Days

    by acemj Written Jan 22, 2005

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    On Elfreth's Alley, America's oldest continually occupied residential street which dates to 1702, each year during the first weekend in June residents open up their homes to the public and you can get a taste of what life in the 18th century would have been like. If you're not here during Fete Days, you'll have another chance on the first weekend in December or you can visit the Elfreth's Alley museum at No. 126 year-round to see a unit that has been fully restored as a Colonial dressmaker's home.

    Between Race and Arch Streets off of 2nd.

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    Flamenco in Philadelphia

    by asturnut Written Jan 19, 2005

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    Philadelphia is one of the few cities in the United States that has a flamenco community (of which I am a part.) In Philadelphia, there are 3 major dance studios/companies that do flamenco exclusively. There are a few other ummm "artists" who claim to have flamenco in their repertoire, but what they are peddling is not flamenco. If you are in Philadelphia and you are interested in dropping in to a flamenco class, or seeing a performance, contact me (I am the owner of the Philly Flamenco website) I always know what is going on in the Philadelphia area flamenco scene.

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