Phila or Philly? Visiting Pennsylvania’s Grandest City for One Day (Part II)

[continued from Part I]

Self portrait at the Magic Garden
Self portrait at the Magic Garden

I got to see a few shops here and there and even grab a bite at a Turkish bistro. South Street is known for its “novelty stores” as a local told me and it has a bunch of bars and restaurants in addition to it. While there was a little bit of browsing opportunity, I really wasn’t in the mood for some shopping that day.

Philly's Magic Garden
Philly’s Magic Garden

Therefore, my next stop was the Magic Garden: An institution I had wanted to check out for a while already. My friend had told me about but it’s quite a sight once you stand in front of it. Constructed by the Brooklyn native and artist Isaiah Zagar, it took about 14 years to complete. It’s a formerly vacant lot on South Street and 11th Street, which has been constructed into small alley ways and two stories worth of mosaics, broken glass, shards of mirror and lots of other props. This might not sound very appealing, but check out the pictures below to get a better understanding. You will find hidden stair ways, nice hand rails, and artistic exhibitions (which are shown inside).

Philly's Magic Garden
Philly’s Magic Garden

Philly_Magic_Garden_portrait

Philly's Magic Garden
Philly’s Magic Garden
Art indoors
Art indoors

Due to the colorful murals, stones, and mosaics, it is quite a magical place to be in and I was happy to have had the chance to tread around for roughly an hour. Then the garden was closed due to a private event (think wedding party), so I left at 3pm. For more information on the garden and its opening hours, please check out their homepage.

From here on a random passerby gave me the tip to check out the Annual Italian Fest on 9th Street. I expected it to be similar to the San Gennaro we have every year in NYC but this one was a street fest Italian style, with lots of beer, different Italian tastes, and a bunch of handmade stuff. Since it took place in May, the vibes were completely different. Nothing beats a great spring festival at the beginning of the season. People were in a great mood and not too drunk early-on in the afternoon. Maybe this changed later-on in the evening, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

At 4:15pm I redeemed my prioritized ticket entry to the Independence Hall. The tour was only 30 minutes long but a great one to watch. The guide must have been a former actor or such. The way he theatrically pointed out various mile stones of history and played out the part of when the Declaration of Independence was signed… Really passionate and amazing! By the way, it wasn’t signed by all parties until August 2nd, which most people (including me) didn’t know. And supposedly, out of all 13 colonies, New York was the only one that was rather neutral to the entire ordeal… What a shame, isn’t it?

Independence Hall
Independence Hall

I still had 3 hours to kill, so I decided to go full speed on and went to see City Hall. Close to it is a water fountain called Love Fountain, because it has the red love symbols/ letters displayed next to it. On to Logan Square, which is close to the Museum Hill – indeed, you are able to see the Museum from it but it appears to be quite a hike from there. Logan Square is a circle-like construction, which has a huge fountain in between and then a garden with flowers around it. There was a wedding couple stereotypically being photographed in front of the gardens, which made out for a great backdrop.

On top of the Museum Hill you will find the famous statue of Rocky. It’s typical to take a picture in front of it with the arms reaching out (this one is from Dec 31, 2010). I’ve had the chance to do so back in the days but didn’t have the time to make the trek up there on Saturday. I can only recommend checking it out if you’re in town.

Love Fountain
Love Fountain
Logan Square - panoramic view
Logan Square – panoramic view

My bus back home went around 8 PM. After grabbing a bite and then strolling through a few shops, I was more than ready to sit in a moving vehicle and take a nap. I was happy to have taken the trip out and am once again thankful for how well-connected the cities on the East Coast are.

Now, the only question remaining is: When to call Philadelphia Phila and when Philly?

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