Apparently, some of the hotels in Philadelphia's downtown area have been having a problem with waiters from various temp agencies (who are not hotel employees) trying to scam guests who order room service. Unfortuantely, this scam was attempted on us during our recent stay. This is what happened, don't let it happen to you no matter what city or hotel you are staying in: We ordered a couple of sandwiches from room service, a very normal thing as we were really tired from walking around all day and didn't feel like going out. The food arrives at our room and the waiter asks, "How are you going to pay for this? Cash or credit card?" So we tell him that we are going to just charge it to our room as they already have our credit card number on file. The waiter then goes into this lengthy explaination of how gratuity and service charges can not be applied to the room and must be paid by cash or by credit card and insists that we need to provide him with one or the other. We only had $5 cash at the time and told him that we had the credit card on file and if that wasn't sufficient then to have a manager call us. A few hours pass and the waiter shows up AGAIN, insisting that we give him our credit card number and our PIN! I refused to do this and feeling suspicious and annoyed, I called the hotel manager who came up immediately with a police officer. After we explained what had happened they arrested our waiter and took him away. Never give anyone your credit card number unless you are sure it is legitamate!
This peaceful looking historic building was once the Seamen's Church Institute. Constructed in 1902, the building was placed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1977, but soon it will be taken over by the reckless, nefarious force of evil known as . . . MTV! Yep, the cast and crew of the ORIGINAL reality TV show, The Real World will soon be moving in and I'm not so sure that Philadelphia is ready. In fact, the coming show has already caused a ruckuss. You see, the MTV network has never used union workers to renovate any of their buildings for The Real World, but here in Philly union protests almost kept the show out! But, alas, somehow the show must go on and the show is still on schedule to begin taping in the summer of 2004.
Be afraid Old City (Arch St. at 3rd), be very afraid.
UPDATE: Well, the show has wrapped and is on TV now . . . it actually makes Philly look pretty good!
UPDATE ON THE UPDATE (July, 2006): The building is now serving as an art gallery
As the topic says you shouldn't drive though Philadelphia in rush hours.
I drove to Philadelphia a couple of times and chose to wait until around 9-10 PM to drive to the city center. In the afternoon there was way to many cars trying to get around Phily.
If possible use the metro.
Unfortunately, just like any other city we have our bad neighbourhoods as well. If you are visiting Philadelphia and staying in center city, be wary of where you go late at night as you may wind up somewhere you don't want to be. Olde City, Ritten House Square, Washington Square, Society Hill and places like that are fine even in the middle of the night (most of the nights) as many people go out to bars and restaurants so it is much safer. I would stay away from North Broad Street during the night as there are MANY shady characters that wonder the streets. Basically just stick to all of the tourist areas in center city, during the night, and you should be fine.
William Penn atop Philadelphia's City Hall is a great visual cue to keep oriented whilst in Center City, but causes havoc when you are trying to drive around him! All of center city is a perfect grid, with numbered streets in one direction and (mostly) streets named after trees and nuts going in the other direction. But the problem is that William Penn is right in the middle of everything, which means there is a terribly confusing (and potentially dangerous) circle going around him. It's really easy to get disoriented and intimidated by agressive taxi drivers whilst trying to get your bearings. Be patient and take your time if you are driving. It helps to have a second pair of eyes if you are unfamiliar with the area.
Philadelphia is home of the soft pretzel. In fact, the pretzel was invented here. But Philly is known for the soft pretzel. Forget about NYC and other places where they're burnt or just not soft. Now, that being said, be warned of the huge pretzels that these illegal vendors sell outside of stadiums, the convention center and basically any event where people will be. I know that the pretzels look good, they're gigantic and cheap.
1. First off, they the vendors are illegal and not licensed, taking money from those vendors who pay to be licensed and keep up to code.
2. They don't keep up to code! I have heard horrific stories from people familiar with the inner workings of these guys. How about stuffing the pretzels in garbage bags and hiding them in the bottom of the corner trash cans on the street when the cops are coming? And once the cops have passed, retrieving the pretzels and continuing to sell them. Your health in trade for them getting caught.
Soft pretzels are delicious in Philly and a good snack. Just do it the right way and buy from a vendor who is licensed with a cart.
Oh, yeah, don't forget the spicy mustard and napkins!
Don't ever drive with your own car and look for new tires or a broken trunk locker....you'll spend half of your vacation getting the new tires rotated so they won't shake any longer... (oh, no, sorry, that wasn't Phily...it was PepBoys in Delaware....)
When you are travelling to Philadelphia by car you should add $20-25 dollars for parking in the city center.
The city center has a lot of parking garages and they are easy to find but they are rather expensive. I felt pretty safe leaving my car in those garages.
I recommend not driving if you're a visitor and you plan to spend most of your time in Center City, simply because you won't need to. If you do rent a car, however, be sure to lock it up. Auto theft is a problem.
Picture says it all....
don't leave yer bike around for
Note: this is not my bike and I don't
know how long it had been standing there
till it got stripped naked like this...
I just happen to walk by and took a pic...
Umm, if you're a 15 year old kid with a large suitcase coming out of a bus station. Don't happily give your stuff to the first self confessed taxi driver that comes your way. You might find that he invites himself for a Chinese dinner and a soda from the nearest supermarket before taking 20 dollars for a ride home!
Don't go to the Original Bookbinder's. The once famous Philly landmark seafood restaurant is now closed down.
Update: It looks to have reopened. Now, the only danger is going broke eating there. It IS still very expensive is atmospheric.
Ok where to start first of all i have lived in north philadelphia all of my life and honestly there is nothing to be scared of. If you are so worried about your saftey that means your probably a rich stuck up person so you shouldnt even come find somewhere better to go. North philly is home to me and will always be home to me yes it doesnt look that welcoming but inside those tiny one way blocks are some of the coolest people you will ever meet. when you go through the blocks of north philly there is always someone outside which is why it is actually fun. but if you come as a tourist there is reallty nothing to see in north philly every one who is here has always been here you just cant walk down the block and make friends like wtf. if you are SOFT it is not the place to be north philly is a place for hard body because people down here have it tougher thats why we always be on our grind -if opportunity is seen it is taken- no matter what that involes. i come from the heart of north philly 19134 ALLEGEHY and im proud of it i proud to know what if feels like to live in ghetto.
The crime statistics for Philadelphia are right off the charts. (a quote from wikipedia: "Philadelphia was ranked by Morgan Quitno as the 6th most-dangerous American city with a population of over 500,000" ).
Our experience was pretty tame but may show what concerns you should have.
During a private, commercial buggy ride (with my wife and I and the tour guide), during the middle of the day, as we slowed to let some automotive traffic go ahead, a street person grabbed the horses reins and said "gimme a buck or I'll hit your horse". The driver grabbed a thick pole that was beside him on the seat and the street person backed off.
Be sure you use a lot of caution. Your hotel management and staff can warn you which areas are to be avoided and which are good tourist locations.
Treat the hoods as a drive-through territory in the Philly metro area at night. Don't try your luck. If you're walking late at night a deserted street cross to the other side if you see someone walking towards you and you're not too comfortable about them.
Exercise common sense caution anywhere in the city of Philadelphia (suburbs are ok) at night if you don't see people around.
This might give you an idea...At the orientation when I started my university study in Philly all of the students were given a safety whistle to carry with us at all times. I personally didn't carry it, found it after graduation again. Just food for thought.
Besides that I like Philly.
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