Thursday, October 9, 2014
How to Be a Giants Fan In Philadelphia -- 2014 Edition
While Eagle fans, given the choice between beating the Giants or the Dallas Cowboys, but not both, might choose the Cowboys, it really doesn't make much sense, given not only the geography -- the Giants and Eagles are closer than any other Divisional rivals in the NFL -- but also the recent state of the Division, in which the Cowboys are less of a factor than could be expected.
Eagles fans, well...
I attended 17 baseball games at Veterans Stadium, including 2 against the Mets, and an Interleague game against the Yankees. I never had a serious problem at any of them.
I attended 1 football game at The Vet. It was a Giants-Eagles game. It was, in more ways than one, a whole different ballgame. While I wasn't abused myself, I saw some things that sickened me.
Things are a bit better at Lincoln Financial Field, partly because the place hasn't yet developed the kind of sinister atmosphere that The Vet did. Well, maybe I should say, "Give it time."
Before You Go. Philadelphia is just down the road, so it's in the Eastern Time Zone, and you don't have to worry about fiddling with various timepieces. And the weather will be almost identical to what you'd have on the same day in New York. Still, check the combined website for the Philadelphia newspapers, the Inquirer and the Daily News, before you head out. For the moment, it looks like, for next Sunday night, temperatures in Philly will be in the mid-50s at night. If you wear a Giants jersey over your shirt to games, that should be enough. If you don't, a light jacket should suffice.
Tickets. The Eagles averaged 69,144 fans per home game last season -- that's over official capacity. So, yes, order your tickets ahead of time -- especially since this meeting could set the tone for the NFC East the rest of the way.
As of Thursday morning, the Eagles' website says there's only standing room tickets available and "not many left." So if you don't "know a guy," and you don't want to try your luck with a scalper (though I did get to see the aforementioned Giants-Eagles game for $60 on a list price of $50 -- it was very cold that day, and I think the guy was desperate), your best bet is probably the NFL Ticket Exchange. If you use that, no matter where you sit, be prepared to spend at least $200, and possibly over $300 depending on how close you want to get.
Getting There. It’s 99 miles from Times Square in Manhattan to City Hall in Center City Philadelphia, and 96 miles from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford to the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.
This is close enough that a typical Giants fan could leave his house, drive to the Meadowlands, pick up some friends, head down to The Linc, watch a game, head back, drop his friends off, and drive home, all within 9 hours. But it’s also close enough that you could spend an entire day in Philadelphia, and, hopefully, you’ve already done this. Having done so many times myself, I can tell you that it’s well worth it.
If you are driving, you’ll need to get on the New Jersey Turnpike. If you’re not “doing the city,” but just going to the game, take the Turnpike’s Exit 3 to NJ Route 168, which forms part of the Black Horse Pike, to Interstate 295. (The Black Horse Pike later becomes NJ Route 42, US Route 322 and US Route 40, going into Atlantic City. Not to be confused with the White Horse Pike, US Route 30, which also terminates in A.C.)
Take I-295 to Exit 26, which will get you onto Interstate 76 and the Walt Whitman Bridge into Philly. Signs for the ballpark will soon follow, and the park is at 11th Street and Pattison Avenue (though the mailing address is "1 Lincoln Financial Field Way").
From anywhere in New York City, allow 2½ hours for the actual drive, though from North Jersey you might need only 2, and from Central Jersey an hour and a half might suffice. But you’ll need at least another half-hour to negotiate the last mile or so, including the parking lot itself.
If you don’t want to drive, there are other options, but the best one is the train. Philadelphia is too close to fly, just as flying from New York (from JFK, LaGuardia or Newark) to Boston, Baltimore and Washington, once you factor in fooling around with everything you gotta do at each airport, doesn’t really save you much time compared to driving, the bus or the train.
And I strongly recommend not taking the bus. If you do, once you see Philadelphia’s Greyhound terminal, at 10th & Filbert Streets in Center City, the nation’s 2nd-busiest behind New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal, you’ll say to yourself, “I never thought I’d say this to myself, but thank God for Port Authority!” The Philly terminal is a disgrace. I don’t know how many people are in Atlantic City on an average summer day, when both the beaches and the casinos are full (I'm guessing about half a million, or one-third the size of Philly), but it has a permanent population of 40,000 people, compared to the 1.6 million of Philadelphia, and it has a bus station of roughly equal size and far greater cleanliness than Philly’s. Besides, Greyhound service out of Newark's Penn Station is very limited, and do you really want to go out of New Jersey into Manhattan just to get across New Jersey into Philadelphia?
If you can afford Amtrak, and that will be $170 round-trip between New York and Philly, it takes about 2 hours to get from Penn Station to the 30th Street Station at 30th & Market Streets, just across the Schuylkill River from Center City. Unlike the dull post-1963 Penn Station, this building is an Art Deco masterpiece from 1933, and is the former corporate headquarters of the Pennsylvania Railroad. (Ironically, it never had the official name “Pennsylvania Station” or “Penn Station.”) You might recognize its interior from the Eddie Murphy film Trading Places. (If you can’t afford Amtrak, or if you can but you’d rather save money, I’ll get to what to do in a minute.)
However, this is an 8:30 PM kickoff, and the last train of the night from 30th Street to New York is at 11:04 PM, probably during the 3rd quarter. So unless you want to hang around a Philadelphia train station from about 12:30 to 3 in the morning when the overnight train leaves, or you can get a hotel and leave Monday morning (which would be a problem if you have to work that day), Amtrak really isn't an option on this occasion.
If you do want to go for it, from 30th Street Station, you can take a cab that will go down I-76, the Schuylkill Expressway, to I-95, the Delaware Expressway, to South Broad Street to the Sports Complex. I would advise against this, though: When I did this for a Yankees-Phillies Interleague game at the Vet in 1999, it was $15. It’s probably $25 now.
Instead, you’ll need to take the subway, which, like Philly’s commuter-rail and bus systems, is run by SEPTA, the SouthEastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. You might recognize their “S” logo from Trading Places, and the bus that hits Tommy Morrison at the end of Rocky V. You’ll have to exit 30th Street Station and cross 30th Street itself to get into the 30th St. station on the Market-Frankford Line.
Philadelphia and Toronto are the only 2 cities left on the North American continent, as far as I know, that still use tokens rather than farecards (or "MetroCards" as New York's MTA calls them) or tickets for their subways. One ride on a SEPTA subway train is $2.25, cheaper than New York's, but they don’t sell single tokens at booths. They come in packs of 2, 5 and 10, and these packs are damn hard to open. Two cost $3.60; five are $9.00, and a ten-pack costs $18.00. They are also available for bulk purchase.
From 30th Street, take the Market-Frankford Line to 15th Street (that's just one stop), where you'll transfer to the Broad Street Line at City Hall Station. Being a Met fan, you'll notice that the MFL's standard color is blue, while the BSL's is orange. Blue and orange. Don't think that means they want to make Met fans feel at home, though.
From City Hall, if you’re lucky, you’ll get an express train that will make just 2 stops, Walnut-Locust and AT&T (formerly "Pattison" -- yes, they sold naming rights to one of their most important subway stations). But you’ll want to save your luck for the game itself, so don’t be too disappointed if you get a local, which will make 7 stops: Walnut-Locust, Lombard-South, Ellsworth-Federal, Tasker-Morris, Oregon, Snyder and AT&T. The local should take about 10 minutes, the express perhaps 7 minutes.
If you don't want to take Amtrak, your other rail option is local. At Newark Penn, you can buy a combined New Jersey Transit/SEPTA ticket to get to Center City Philadelphia. Take NJT's Northeast Corridor Line out of Penn Station to the Trenton Transit Center. This station recently completed a renovation that has already turned it from an absolute hole (it was so bad, it made Philly’s bus station look like Grand Central) into a modern multimodal transport facility. At Trenton, transfer to the SEPTA R7 train that will terminate at Chestnut Hill East.
Because there will be a lot more stops than there are on Amtrak (especially the SEPTA part), it will take 2 hours and 10 minutes, but you’ll spend $41 round-trip, about what you'd spend on a same-day purchase on Greyhound, and less than a third of what you’d be likely to spend on Amtrak. However, again, time will be an issue: The last SEPTA train of the night that will connect to an NJT train leaves Suburban Station at 11:45 PM (and the NJT train it will connect to won't get to Penn Station until 2:46 AM), so this might not be an option for you this time, either.
And if you are riding NJT and SEPTA, you’ll still get to 30th Street Station, but you’ll need to bypass it and keep going to the next stop, Suburban Station at 17th Street & John F. Kennedy Blvd. (which is what Filbert Street is called west of Broad Street). Getting off there, a pedestrian concourse will lead you to the City Hall station on the Broad Street Line, and then just take that to Pattison.
The subway’s cars are fairly recent, and don’t rattle much, although they can be unpleasant on the way back from the game, especially if it’s a football game and they’re rammed with about 100 Eagles fans who’ve spent the game sweating and boozing and are still loaded for bear for anyone from outside the Delaware Valley. It’s highly unlikely anyone will give you anything more than a little bit of verbal on the subway ride into the Sports Complex, while they might give a little more gusto to the verbal on the ride back. But despite Philly sports fans’ reputation, this will not be the equivalent of the London Underground on a Saturday afternoon in the 1980s: They might tell you that your team sucks (even if your team is ahead of theirs in the standings), but that’s about the worst you’ll get.
Once In the City. Philadelphia is a Greek word meaning "brotherly love," a name given to it by its founder, William Penn, in 1683. So the city is nicknamed "The City of Brotherly Love." The actions and words of its sports fans suggest that this is ridculous. Giants coach Bill Parcells was once caught on an NFL Films production, during a game with the Eagles at the Vet, saying to Lawrence Taylor, "You know, Lawrence, they call this 'the City of Brotherly Love,' but it's really a banana republic." And Emmitt Smith, who played for that other team Eagles fans love to hate, the Dallas Cowboys, also questioned the name: "They don't got no love for no brothers."
On a map, it might look like Penn Square, surrounding City Hall, is the centerpoint, but this is just geographic, and only half-refers to addresses. Market Street is the difference between the north-south numbering on the numbered Streets. But the Delaware River is the start for the east-west streets, with Front Street taking the place of 1st Street. Broad Street, which intersects with Market at City Hall/Penn Square, takes the place of 14th Street.
In the Colonial and Revolutionary periods, Philadelphia was the largest city in America, before being overtaken by New York. As recently as 1970, it had about 2 million people. But "white flight" after the 1964 North Philadelphia riot led to the population dropping to just over 1.5 million in 2000. It has inched back upward since then. The metro area as a whole -- southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and most of Delaware -- is about 7 million, making it the 6th-largest in the country, behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston.
The sales tax is 6 percent in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Massachusetts, Virginia and Kentucky are also "commonwealths" in their official State names), 8 percent within the City of Philadelphia.
Going In. The Philadelphia sports complex once included Sesquicentennial/Municipal/John F. Kennedy Stadium (1926-1992), The Spectrum (1967-2009), and Veterans Stadium (1971-2004). The arena now known as the Wells Fargo Center was built on the site of JFK Stadium. Citizens Bank Park, the new home of the Phillies, was built to the east of The Vet. And Lincoln Financial Field was built south of the new ballpark, and east of the Spectrum.
There is plenty of parking in the complex, including a lot on the site of The Vet. But you'll be a lot better off if you take the subway. Not really because of the price of parking: At $16, it's one of the cheaper fares in baseball. But traffic is going to be awful. The first time I went to a sporting event in Philadelphia, it was a 4th of July celebration at the Vet, and 58,000 people showed up to see the Phils face the Houston Astros, with Nolan Ryan pitching. The game and the fireworks combined did not last as long as it took to get out of the parking lot and onto the Walt Whitman Bridge: 2 hours and 40 minutes. Trust me: Take the freakin' subway.
Coming out of the AT&T subway station, you’ll walk down Pattison Avenue, with a parking lot on the former site of Veterans Stadium to your left, and the site of the Spectrum to your right. Further to your right is the successor to the Spectrum, the Wells Fargo Center, named for the banking and insurance company. Further to your right is Lincoln Financial Field. You'll be likely to enter either at the north end zone or the west sideline.
If you drove in, parking is $35, and the lot on the site of The Vet is among those available. Tailgating is permitted.
The new home of the Eagles has seen them make the Playoffs more often than not, and reach the Super Bowl in the 2004 season. And fan behavior, while still rowdy, is not as criminal as it was at The Vet: No more municipal court under the stands is necessary.
"The Linc" has hosted the Army-Navy Game every year since it opened, except for 2007 and 2011. It will also not host it this year or in 2016, as Baltimore will on those occasions. It's hosted 3 games of the U.S. National Soccer Team, an MLS All-Star Game, and several games by touring European teams such as Manchester United, Glasgow Celtic and A.C. Milan.
Inside the stadium, concourses are wide and well-lit, a big departure from The Vet. Escalators are safe and nearly always work, as opposed to the Vet, which did not have escalators, only seemingly-endless ramps. Getting to your seat should be easy.
The Eagles have chosen to wear all-black uniforms for this game. Sometimes, instead of their usual home green jerseys, they'll wear white ones, especially against the Dallas Cowboys, since there is a myth that the Cowboys don't do well in their blue ones. (Notable in Eagles lore, the Eagles wore white, forcing the Cowboys to wear blue, in the 1980-81 NFC Championship Game and the "4th & 1, twice" game in 1995.)
Food. From the famed Old Original Bookbinder's (125 Walnut Street at 2nd, now closed) and Le Bec Fin (1523 Walnut at 16th) to the Reading Terminal Market (Philly's version of the South Street Seaport, at 51 N. 12th St at Filbert) to the South Philly cheesesteak giants Pat’s, Geno’s and Tony Luke’s, Philly is a great food city and don’t you ever forget it.
The variety of food available at the Wells Fargo Center is unbelievable. Little of it is healthy (no surprise there), but all of it is good. Tony Luke's has a stand at The Linc. So does Chickie's & Pete's, to sell their fish and their “crab fries” -- French fries with Old Bay seasoning mix, not fries with crabmeat. Also at The Linc are outlets of Bassett's Original Burgers & Fresh Cut Fries, Seasons Pizza, and Melt Down grilled cheese stands.
Team History Displays. The Eagles' history is pretty bleak for a team over 80 seasons old. They won NFL Championships in 1948, 1949 and 1960 -- and that's it. (The Frankford Yellow Jackets, based in Northeast Philly, won the title in 1926, but although Eagles founders Bert Bell and Lud Wray bought the territorial rights to the NFL in Philly, and hardly any players from the last Jackets team of 1931 were on the debut Eagles team of 1933, the Eagles are not considered a continuation of the Jackets -- and even if they were, it doesn't help much: 4 titles in 90 years is 1 every 22.5, while 3 titles in 81 years is 1 every 27.) As a result, the Eagles don't have outward displays for those 3 NFL titles, or for the 1980 and 2004 NFC Championships, or for their NFL and NFC Eastern Division titles of 1947, 1948, 1949, 1960, 1980, 1988, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2013.
The Eagles do have 9 retired numbers, though, and they hang banners for them under the roof along the sideline. Those numbers are: 5, Donovan McNabb, quarterback, 1999-2009; 15, Steve Van Buren, running back & defensive back, 1944-51; 20, Brian Dawkins, safety, 1996-2008; 40, Tom Brookshier, safety, 1953-61; 44, Pete Retzlaff, running back, 1956-66; 60, Chuck Bednarik, center & linebacker, 1949-62; 70, Al Wistert, two-way tackle, 1943-51; 92, Reggie White, defensive end, 1985-92; and 99, Jerome Brown, defensive tackle, 1987-91. While not officially retired, no one has worn the Number 12 of Randall Cunningham, quarterback, 1985-95, since he left the team.
While not on display in the playing area, the team does have an Eagles Honor Roll and a 75th Anniversary Team (1933-2008), on display on the stadium concourse. The Honor Roll was founded in 1987, and the initial inductees were every Eagle already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here they are:
* From the Eagles' founding era, 1933-47, but not making it to their title teams thereafter: Founder-owner Bert Bell, later NFL Commissioner; two-way end Bill Hewitt (better known as a Chicago Bear).
* From the 1948 & 1949 NFL Champions: Bednarik, Van Buren, Wistert, coach Earle "Greasy" Neale, two-way end Pete Pihos, center & defensive tackle Alex Wojciechowicz,
* From the 1960 NFL Champions: Bednarik, Brookshier, Retzlaff, team executive Jim Gallagher, quarterbacks Norm Van Brocklin and Sonny Jurgensen, running back Timmy Brown, receiver Tommy McDonald, and ticket manager Leo Carlin.
* From the 20-year interregnum (not on either the '60 or the '80 team): Running back Ollie Matson, center Jim Ringo, offensive tackle Bob Brown, safety & punter Bill Bradley (no relation to the basketball player turned Senator). From these teams, guard Wade Key and receiver/special teams player Vince Papale (played by Mark Wahlberg in the film Invincible) made the 75th Anniversary Team.
* From the 1980 NFC Champions: Gallagher, Carlin, head coach Dick Vermeil, quarterback Ron Jaworski, running back Wilbert Montgomery, receiver Harold Carmichael, offensive tackles Stan Walters and Jerry Sisemore, linebacker Bill Bergey, and trainer Otho Davis. From this team, defensive tackle Charlie Johnson made the 75th Anniversary Team.
* From the 1988 NFC East Champions: Gallagher, Davis, Carlin, Cunningham, White, Brown, receiver Mike Quick, cornerback Eric Allen. From this team, running back Keith Byars, defensive end Clyde Simmons, linebacker Seth Joyner and safety Andre Waters made the 75th Anniversary Team.
* From the teams that reached 4 straight NFC Championship Games, losing in 2001, '02 and '03, and winning in '04: Carlin, McNab, Dawkins, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson and cornerback Troy Vincent. From these teams, head coach Andy Reid, running back Bryan Westbrook, guard Shawn Andrews, offensive tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan, kicker David Akers and punter Sean Landeta made the 75th Anniversary Team. (Landeta also played in Philadelphia for the USFL Champion Stars, on the Giants' Super Bowl XXI and XXV winners, and the St. Louis Rams' Super Bowl XXXIV winners, making the Rams' 10th Anniversary Team for their St. Louis edition.) No current Eagles players remain from the 75th Anniversary Team.
The Eagles are the only one of the 4 teams in the Philly sports complex that don't have any statues honoring players. The obvious choice would be Bednarik: "Concrete Charlie," a World War II air gunner, went to the University of Pennsylvania on the G.I. Bill, and was the only playing link between the Eagles' 1949 (his rookie season) and 1960 titles. He was the last of the "sixty-minute men," playing both offense and defense, including in the '60 season. If he's not the greatest player in Eagle history, he's a convenient symbol for a Philadelphia team: A son of immigrants, from the tough steel-mill town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania who beat the Ivy Leaguers at their own game (figuratively and literally), and starred for (for all intents and purposes) the home team. He is 89 years old, still very much active, and they may be waiting until his death to commission a statue.
Stuff. The Linc has a Pro Shop, and there are also outlets in the Market Place at Garden State Park (built on the site of the old horse racing track in Cherry Hill) and in Lancaster (way out in Pennsylvania Dutch Country).
You might be able to buy DVDs and books about the Eagles in said stores. The NFL released Philadelphia Eagles: The Complete History in 2004 (so it's no longer complete, and it came out just before their most recent trip to the Super Bowl). I have this DVD, and it's got some great special features, including a look inside the mind of the Eagle fan (a potentially scary place), NFL Films' productions about the 1948-49 and 1960 title teams, a piece on Dick Vermeil, and a look at Veterans Stadium from its debut as a modern sports palace to its last few years as a symbol of an age of dreams that turned into a nightmare.
The NFL has also released Philadelphia Eagles: 10 Greatest Games. The selection is not comprehensive: None of their NFL Championships are included, and the earliest game is from 1978 -- and, since you're a Giants fan, let me warn you: It's "The Miracle of the Meadowlands." It also includes their 1980 and 2004 NFC Championship Game wins, "The Body Bag Game" against Washington in 1990, the "4th & 26" Playoff win over Green Bay in 2004, a 1995 win over Detroit that remains the highest-scoring game in NFL postseason history (58-37), and notable wins over the Cowboys (beyond that January 11, 1981 conference title clincher) in 2006 and 2008.
Although football isn't the most literary of sports, and Philadelphia not one you would ordinarily consider among America's most intellectually-friendly cities, there are some good books about the Eagles. Bob Gordon wrote The 1960 Philadelphia Eagles: The Team They Said Had Nothing But a Championship. Books about the late Forties' Eagle champs are hard to come by, but there are 2 good bios of Bednarik, who bridged the title teams: Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum's 1977 epic Bednarik: Last of the Sixty-Minute Men, and Concrete Charlie: An Oral History of Philadelphia's Greatest Football Legend, Chuck Bednarik, a 2009 piece by Ken Safarowic and Eli Kowalski. (The nickname comes not from his legendary toughness, but from the fact that, in those days when an athlete needed an off-season job to make ends meet, Bednarik sold concrete.
If you really want to get a feel for Philly sports, not just the Eagles, get these 3, all co-written by WIP host Glen Macnow with one of his colleagues: The Great Philadelphia Fan Book with Anthony Gargano, The Great Philadelphia Sports Debate with Angelo Cataldi (who is Philly's answer to Mike & the Mad Dog, all in one guy), and The Great Book of Philadelphia Sports Lists, with Ed Gudonis, a.k.a. Big Daddy Graham, also a Philly and Jersey Shore-based standup comic and a great guy who writes a regular column for Philadelphia magazine. And Jere Longman, writing from the perspective of a long-suffering Eagle fan, published If Football Is a Religion, Why Don't We Have a Prayer? in 2009.
During the Game. Unlike most venues in North American sports, a Eagles home game -- and a Flyers home game, but not so much the Phillies and 76ers -- carries with it the specter of fan violence. In fact, with the possible exception of the Oakland Raiders, no NFL fan base is more renowned for being threatening. Chances are, you won't get anything more than some verbal abuse. But if even 1 fan in 1,000 is willing to fight, you're still talking about nearly 70 people -- and a few of them might be together. This is probably one time I would recommend not wearing your hometown team's gear on the road -- unless it's one of those blue Giants hard hats.
The chant of "E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!" will go up about 100 times during the game. When the Eagles score, they play their fight song, "Fly, Eagles, Fly." It's not a great recording, and it's not great lyrics, but it's at least as memorable as "Bear Down, Chicago Bears," if not "Hail to the Redskins."
The Eagles' mascot is Swoop, a guy in an Eagle suit. They also have an unofficial mascot, a guy who's been coming to Eagles games since 1997 wearing an Eagles jersey, an Eagles helmet, a cape, a black Lone Ranger-style mask, and a beak mask over his nose. He calls himself "Birdman," and he squawks and shrieks like a bird of prey. He's not really a superhero, but, fortunately, he's not a supervillain, either. He won't hurt you. In fact, he carries spare beak masks, and gives a Beak of the Week out to a selected fan at every home game. "I call myself a fanscot," says the man behind the masks, Joseph Ripley, a contractor living in Gloucester County, New Jersey, "because I'm not an official mascot, but I'm more than an average fan." He's been coming in costume since 1997.
The Eagles also have Sign Man. Unlike Birdman, I can't find a real name for him, but he's been quoted as calling himself a season-ticketholder for over 40 years, which means he might go all the way back to the Franklin Field years. He operates with signs much bigger than the late Carl Ehrhardt, the Mets' Sign Man of the 1960s and '70s. His signs used to drape the facing of an entire section at The Vet, but the way The Linc is built, it's a little harder to have signs that long. He still gets his message across: All through 2012, he made signs telling coach Andy Reid to quit, or the team to fire him. (He got his wish: Reid was fired at the end of the season.)
After the Game. Philadelphia is a big city, with all the difficulties of big cities as well as many of the perks of them. Especially at night, the risk of Eagle fans getting rough increases, as they’ve had time to drink, but not by much. Again, don't antagonize them, especially if the Giants win, and you'll probably be okay.
What you should do at the end of the game depends on what time it is and how you got there. If you took the train(s) down, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting back onto the subway, and to Suburban Station, in time to catch a SEPTA train to Trenton, and then an NJT train back to New York.
If you drove down, and you want to stop off for a late dinner and/or drinks (except, of course, for the designated driver), the nearby Holiday Inn at 9th Street & Packer Avenue has a bar that is co-owned by former Eagles quarterback, now ESPN pundit, Ron Jaworski. As I mentioned earlier, the original outlet of Chickie’s & Pete’s is at 15th & Packer. Right next to it is a celebrated joint, named, appropriately enough, Celebre Pizzeria.
The legendary Pat's and Geno's Steaks, arch-rivals as intense as any local sports opponents, are across 9th Street from each other at Passyunk Avenue in the Italian Market area. My preference is Pat's, but Geno's is also very good. Be advised, though, that the lines at both are of Shake Shack length, because people know they're that good. Also, Pat's was "the original Soup Nazi": You have to have your cash ready, and you have to quickly order your topping, your style of cheese, and either "wit" or "widdout" -- with or without onions. I haven't been there in a while, but I've been there often enough that I have a "usual": "Mushroom, whiz, wit." Both Pat's and Geno's are open 24 hours, but, because of the length of the line, unless you drove down to the game, I would recommend not going there after the game, only before (if you can make time for it). Broad Street Line to Ellsworth-Federal, then 5 blocks east on Federal, and 1 block south on 9th.
There is one place I know of in Philadelphia that caters to New York fans: The Tavern on Broad, at 200 S. Broad Street at Walnut, seems to be the headquarters of the local Giants fan club. A particular favorite restaurant of mine is the New Deck Tavern, at 3408 Sansom Street in University City, on the Penn campus. You can also pick up a sandwich, a snack or a drink at any of several Wawa stores in and around the city. If you came in via Suburban Station, there's one at 1707 Arch, a 5-minute walk away; if the game lasts 3 hours or less, you have a shot at getting in, getting your order, getting out, and getting back to the station in time to catch your train.
Sidelights. The Philadelphia sports complex once included 3 buildings that have all been replaced and demolished: From north to south, the Vet, the Spectrum and JFK Stadium. The arena now known as the Wells Fargo Center was built on the site of JFK Stadium. Citizens Bank Park, the new home of the Phillies, was built to the east of The Vet. And Lincoln Financial Field was built south of the new ballpark, and east of the Spectrum.
* Sesquicentennial/Municipal/JFK Stadium. Built in 1926 for a 150th Anniversary (Sesquicentennial of American independence) world's fair in Philadelphia, this 105,000-seat horseshoe (open at the north end) was designed for football, but one of its earliest events was a fight for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. For the 1st time, that title changed hands on a decision, rather than on a knockout. But Gene Tunney so decisively outfought champion Jack Dempsey that no one disputed it. (When they had their rematch a year later, at Soldier Field in Chicago, that was another story.)
The stadium was renamed Municipal Stadium in 1931 (sometimes it was called simply Philadelphia Stadium), and, due to being (roughly) halfway between the service academies, became the site of the Army-Navy Game from 1936 to 1941, and again from 1945 to 1979, before it was moved to The Vet.
The Eagles played home games there from 1936 to 1939, and select games thereafter, including the 1950 season opener that was, as soccer fans would call it, a "Charity Shield" game: The 2-time defending NFL Champion Eagles vs. the Cleveland Browns, 4-time titlists in the All-America Football Conference. The Browns were 47-4-3 over the AAFC's 4-season history; the Eagles, 22-3-1 over the last 2 years, thanks to a 5-2 alignment that was the 1st defensive unit to have a memorable nickname: Before San Diego and Los Angeles had a Fearsome Foursome, Philly had a Suicide Seven.
Some people then called it "The Game of the Century," and some now think of as an unofficial "first Super Bowl" -- ironic, since neither team has won an NFL Championship in the Super Bowl era, and the Browns haven't even been to a Super Bowl yet. Playing on a Saturday night -- making it, sort of, not just "the 1st Super Bowl" but "the 1st Monday Night Football game" -- in front of 71,237 fans, still the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Philadelphia (and nearly double the capacity of Shibe Park, which really limited the Eagles' attendance), the Browns beat the Eagles 35-10, stunning football fans all over the nation. The Eagles never recovered, while the Browns won the NFL title that year, and appeared in 7 title games in 8 years, winning 3.
In 1964, Municipal Stadium was renamed John F. Kennedy Stadium. On August 16, 1966, the Beatles played there. On July 13, 1985, it hosted the American end of Live Aid. But that show exposed to the world that it already falling apart. The Rolling Stones, who had packed the place on their 1981 Tattoo You tour, chose the considerably smaller Vet for Steel Wheels in 1989. It was demolished in 1992, and the new arena opened on the site in 1996.
* The Spectrum. This modern (for its time) arena opened in 1967, and 2 teams at the opposite ends of the competitive, uh, spectrum moved in: The 76ers, the NBA's defending Champions; and the Flyers, an NHL expansion team. Although the Flyers won inspirational (and confrontational) Stanley Cups in 1974 and '75, they also lost in the Finals in 1976, '80, '85 and '87. And while the Sixers won the 1983 NBA title in a dominating season-long performance, they also lost in the Finals in 1977, '80 and '82, and were lost after a couple of puzzling Draft Day trades in 1986.
The Spectrum hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1976 and 1981, both times won by Bobby Knight's Indiana. Since 1976 was the Bicentennial year, it also hosted the NBA and NHL All-Star Games. The Vet also hosted baseball's All-Star Game that year. And the Spectrum was the site of both fights between Philly native Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, the former in the first Rocky, on New Year's Day 1976, and the latter in Rocky II, on Thanksgiving of that year. (All the movies' fights were actually filmed at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, due to its proximity to Hollywood.)
The Spectrum was also a big arena for college basketball: Villanova used it for home games that were too big for its on-campus Pavilion, the Atlantic 10 Conference used it for its tournament, and it hosted NCAA Tournament games at the sub-Final Four level, including the 1992 thriller that put Duke into the Final Four at Kentucky's expense, thanks to the last-second shot of Christian Laettner. The first rock concert there was by Cream, on their 1968 farewell tour. The last, and the last public event there, was by Pearl Jam in 2009.
The Spectrum became, in the words of its promoters, "America's Showplace" and the most-used sports arena in the world. This was a blessing and a curse: They could make a lot of money off of it, but it was limited. So Spectacor, the company that owned the Spectrum and the Sixers, built Spectrum II -- which, in a series of naming-rights changes due to bigger banks swallowing old ones, became the CoreStates Center, the First Union Center (Flyer fans loved calling it "the F.U. Center"), the Wachovia Center and now the Wells Fargo Center.
From 1996 to 2009, the arenas stood side-by-side. The main Spectrum tenants said goodbye as follows: The Flyers with an exhibition game on September 27, 2008, with all their former Captains on hand, as the Fly Guys beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2; Villanova with the building's last college basketball game on January 28, 2009, a win over the University of Pittsburgh; and on March 13, 2009, the Sixers beat the Chicago Bulls 104-101 in a special regular-season game.
The Spectrum was demolished the next year, and replaced in part with a live concert venue called "Xfinity Live!" (Yes, the exclamation point is included in the official name.) This structure now hosts the statues that were outside the Spectrum. A hotel is planned for the rest of the Spectrum site.
* Veterans Stadium. When it opened on April 10, 1971, it was considered state of the art and wonderful. And, as the Phillies had a great team from 1976 to 1983, reaching 6 postseasons in 8 years, winning 2 Pennants and the 1980 World Series, it became beloved by Phils fans. The Eagles, too, had a resurgence in the late 1970s, and hosted and won the 1980 NFC Championship Game. The Vet was seen as everything that Connie Mack Stadium was not: New instead of old, in good shape instead of falling apart, in a safe place instead of a ghetto (unless you were a New York Giants or Dallas Cowboys fan), and representative of victory instead of defeat.
The Eagles had a down period in the mid-1980s, but rebounded toward the end of the decade. But the Phils had collapsed, and the Vet's faults began to be seen: It was ugly, the sight lines were bad for baseball, and the turf was bad for everything, from eyes to knees. By the time the Phils won the Pennant in 1993, Camden Yards had opened just down the road in Baltimore, and suddenly everyone wanted a "retro park," and no one wanted a "cookie-cutter stadium."
It took a few more years, and a lot of complaints from opposing NFL players that the stadium was deteriorating and the turf was dangerous, for a new stadium to be approved. The Eagles closed the Vet out with a shocking and devastating loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2002 NFC Championship Game, and the Phils did so with a loss to the Atlanta Braves on September 28, 2003. The Eagles had already moved into their new stadium by that point, and the Phils moved into theirs the next April, a few days after the Vet's demolition. The baseball and football sculptures that were outside have been placed on Pattison Avenue, in front of the parking lot where the Vet once stood.
The Vet hosted the Army-Navy Game every year from 1980 to 2001, except for 1983, 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2000. (The 1983 game was played at the Rose Bowl, the 2000 game at the new Ravens' stadium in Baltimore, and the rest, as well as the 2002 game, at the Meadowlands.) Various pro soccer teams, including the North American Soccer League's Philadelphia Atoms, also played there.
* Citizens Bank Park. It opened in 2004, and the Phils were in the Playoff race until September that year. In 2005 and '06, they were in it until the last weekend. In 2007, they won the Division. In 2008, they won the World Series. In 2009, they won another Pennant. In 2010 and '11, they won the Division -- 5 straight Playoff berths, and 8 seasons in the ballpark with all good-to-great seasons. Only in 2012, when injuries flurried in and the team suddenly seemed to get old all at once, did the bad times return.
Baker Bowl was a dump. Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium was already neglected due to Mack's strapped finances by the time the Phils arrived, and by the time they left the neighborhood was a ghastly ghetto. The Vet was a football stadium. CBP is a ballpark, and a great one. (Okay, on January 2, 2012, it was a hockey rink. To make matters worse, the Flyers lost to the one team I would want them to beat, the Rangers.)
"The Bank" has statues of Phils greats like Richie Ashburn and Mike Schmidt, great food like Greg Luzinski's Bull's Barbecue, and lots and lots of souvenirs, some of which don't involve the Phillie Phanatic. And, with the Phils now being terrible, tickets are easier to get.
* Wells Fargo Center. Home to the 76ers and Flyers since 1996, it's a very modern arena, and if you're a Devils fan you'll notice that it seems to have been the one on whose design the Prudential Center is based.
This building is 18 years old and is now under its 5th name. It was built on the site of John F. Kennedy Stadium, formerly Municipal Stadium, a 105,000-seat structure that hosted all kinds of events, from the Army-Navy Game to heavyweight title fights (Gene Tunney taking the title away from Jack Dempsey in 1926 and Rocky Marciano doing the same to Jersey Joe Walcott in 1952), from the occasional Eagles game that was too big for Shibe Park in the 1940s and ’50s to the U.S. half of Live Aid in 1985. And it hosted the Phils’ victory celebration in 1980, with its huge capacity coming in handy. By that point, it was crumbling, and it surprised no one when it was demolished to make way for the new arena.
* Deliverance Evangelistic Church. This was the site of Shibe Park, renamed Connie Mack Stadium in 1952. This is where the A's played from 1909 to 1954, the Phils from 1938 to 1970, and the Eagles in 1940, and from 1942 to 1957. The A's played World Series there in 1910, '11, '12, '13, '14, '29, '30 and '31, and the Phils (against the Yanks) in '50.
The Eagles played and won the 1948 NFL Championship Game there, beating the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 in a snowstorm, and also won the NFL title in '49 (though the title game was played in Los Angeles against the Rams). The Frankford Yellow Jackets sometimes used it in the 1920s, winning the 1926 NFL Championship. On October 14, 1948, shortly after Israel declared its independence, its national soccer team faced the U.S. at Shibe Park, shortly after doing so at Yankee Stadium. These were Israel's 1st 2 matches, and the U.S. won them both.
Be advised, though, that this is North Philly, and the church is easily the nicest building for several blocks around. Across the street is Dobbins Tech, a high school known for its great basketball program. (Remember the story of Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble? They went to Dobbins. So did Dawn Staley.) 21st Street & Lehigh Avenue. By subway, use the North Philadelphia station on the Broad Street Line, and walk 7 blocks west on Lehigh.
* Site of Baker Bowl. This was where the Phils played from 1887 to 1938, and the Eagles from 1933 to 1943 (though sometimes moving to Municipal Stadium, the one renamed for JFK). The Phils won one Pennant there, in 1915. It was also the Eagles' 1st home, in the 1933, '34 and '35 seasons.
Southwest corner of Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue, 8 blocks east of the Connie Mack Stadium site. Same subway stop as Shibe/Connie Mack. The A's original home, Columbia Park, is at 29th Street & Columbia Avenue, but I wouldn't recommend going there. If you're going to any of these, do it in daylight.
* The Palestra. Built in 1927, this is the arena aptly nicknamed the Cathedral of Basketball. It even has stained-glass windows. (I swear, I am not making that up.) The home gymnasium of the University of Pennsylvania (or just "Penn"), it also hosts some games of Philly's informal "Big 5" basketball programs when they play each other: Penn, Temple, La Salle, St. Joseph's and Villanova.
Penn, a member of the Ivy League, has one of the nicest college campuses anywhere, but do not be fooled by its Ivyness: In Philadelphia, even the Ivy Leaguers are tough. 235 South 33rd Street. Take the "Subway-Surface Line" trolley, either the Number 11, 13, 34 or 36, to the 33rd Street stop.
As I said, Philadelphia has hosted 2 NCAA Final Fours, both at the Spectrum. 'Nova has made it 4 times: 1939, 1971, 1985 and 2009. La Salle made it in back-to-back years, 1954 and 1955. Temple made it in 1956 and 1958, although never under legendary coach John Chaney. St. Joe's made it in 1961, and just missed in 2004. Penn made it in 1979, under future Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly. Temple won the NIT in 1938, but the only Philly-based National Champions under the NCAA banner (which began in 1939) are La Salle in 1954 and 'Nova in 1985.
* Franklin Field, right next to the Palestra. The oldest continuously-used college football site, Penn has played here since 1895 (which is also when the Penn Relay Carnival, the nation's premier track-and-field event, began), and in the current stadium since 1922. That year, it supposedly hosted the first football game ever broadcast on radio (a claim the University of Pittsburgh disputes), and in 1939 it supposedly hosted the first football game ever televised (a claim New York’s Columbia University disputes). The amazing building in the west end zone is the University administration building.
The original Franklin Field was the 1st midpoint/neutral site game for Army vs. Navy: 1899 to 1904, 1906 to 1912, and 1914. The current structure hosted it in 1922, and 1932 to 1935, before it was moved to Municipal/JFK Stadium.
The Eagles played here from 1958 to 1970, including their last NFL Championship, December 26, 1960, beating the Green Bay Packers in a thriller, 17-13. Half a century. Penn’s football team has been considerably more successful, having won 14 Ivy League titles since the league was formally founded in 1955.
The stadium is in surprisingly good shape (must be all those Penn/Wharton Business School grads donating for its upkeep), although the playing field has been artificial turf since 1969. Same trolley stop as the Palestra.
* Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. This was the site of the Philadelphia Civic Center, including the Convention Hall, where Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated for President by the Democrats in 1936, Wendell Willkie by the Republicans in 1940 and both Harry Truman and Thomas E. Dewey were nominated in 1948 – that year’s Republican Convention being the first televised convention.
The Beatles played here on September 2, 1964. Pope John Paul II said Mass here. The Philadelphia Warriors played here from 1952 to 1962, when they moved to San Francisco (and now the "Golden State Warriors" play in Oakland), and the 76ers from 1963 until the Spectrum opened in 1967. Titles were won here by the 1956 Warriors and the 1967 76ers. The Philadelphia Blazers played the 1st World Hockey Association season here, 1972-73, but were terrible, and with the Flyers on the way up, nobody wanted to see the WHA team. They moved to Vancouver the next season.
So many Philly area greats played here, in high school, college and the pros, but you need know one name -- pardon the pun -- above all others: Wilt Chamberlain. I saw a concert here in 1989, and the acoustics were phenomenal, with a horseshoe of seats and a stage at one end, much like Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City and the building once known as the Baltimore Civic Center.
Built in 1931, it was demolished in 2005 to make way for an addition to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. 34th Street & Civic Center Boulevard. Same stop as the Palestra and Franklin Field, which are a block away.
* Site of Philadelphia Arena. Built in 1920, this was the first home of the NBA's Warriors from 1946 to 1952, and site of some 76ers home games as well. It seated only 6,500 at its peak, so the Civic Center and later the Spectrum were preferable.
The worst team in NHL history played there: The 1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers. After 5 seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates, they clowned their way to a record of 4 wins, 40 losses and 4 ties, making them about as bad as the worst team in NBA history, the 1972-73 76ers (9-73). They were strapped during this 2nd indoor sports season of the Great Depression, and went out of business thereafter. Although several minor-league teams would play at the Arena, it would not be until 1967, with the opening of the Spectrum and the beginning of the Flyers, that Philly would have another NHL team.
Philly's ABC affiliate, Channel 6, formerly WFIL and now WPVI, built its studio next-door. It still stands. The Arena does not: It caught fire on August 24, 1983, and had to be demolished. A housing project is on the site today. 4530 Market Street. Market Street Line to 46th Street.
* PPL Park. Built in 2010 for the expansion Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer, it seats 18,500 people, on the bank of the Delaware River in Chester, under the Commodore Barry Bridge (U.S. Route 222), linking it with Gloucester County, New Jersey.
The main supporters' section is called the River End, and is home to The Sons of Ben. The group named themselves after Benjamin Franklin, and they created an alternate logo for the team, showing a skull, with a Liberty Bell-style crack in it, wearing Franklin's hairstyle and bifocals, on a kite-shaped background. Of course, fans of the rival New York Red Bulls and D.C. United tend to call them The Daughters of Betsy -- after Ross. The U.S. national team played Colombia there on October 12, 2010, but lost.
1 Stadium Drive, in Chester. SEPTA R2 train to Highland Avenue (not to the Chester Transportation Center), then a 15-minute walk. If you're only going for a visit, not a game when there would be plenty of police protection, do not visit at night: Chester can be a dangerous city.
* Temple University. Straddling the border between Center City and the mostly-black North Philadelphia ghetto, Temple has given thousands of poor urban kids a chance to make something of themselves, including comedian Bill Cosby, who ran track for the school, including in the Penn Relays at Franklin Field.
Temple now plays basketball at the Liacouras Center, at 1776 N. Broad Street, across from its former arena, McGonigle Hall, at 1800. Broad Street Line to Cecil B. Moore station.
The Owls have played football at the South Philly complex since 1978, first at The Vet and now at the Linc. From 1928 to 1977, they played at Temple Stadium, a 20,000-seat facility on the city's northern edge. On September 25, 1968, the U.S. soccer team played Israel to a draw there. It was demolished in 1996, and, like Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium, the site is now home to a church. 2800 Pickering Avenue at Vernon Road. Broad Street Line to Olney Transportation Center, then transfer to the Number 18 bus toward Cedarbook Mall.
* LaSalle University. All of Philly's Big 5 basketball universities are private; unlike Penn and Temple, La Salle, St. Joe's and 'Nova are Catholic. LaSalle is in the northernmost reaches of the city, its bookstore at 1900 W. Olney Avenue, and its new Tom Gola Arena, named for their late 1950s superstar and 1960s coach, and 2100 W. Olney. Broad Street Line to Olney Transportation Center.
* St. Joseph's University. St. Joe's straddles the western edge of the city, on a hill bisected by City Line Avenue. Their fieldhouse, now named the Michael J. Hagan Arena, is at 2450 N. 54th Street, and features a plaque commemorating a 1967 speech by Martin Luther King. Number 44 bus from Center City.
* Villanova University. Famously, they played a Big 5 game against St. Joe's at the Palestra a few years back, having beaten each of the other Big 5 schools, and, pulling away, their fans chanted, "We own Philly!" The St. Joe's fans, no fools, reminded them of their location, in the town of Villanova, 18 miles northwest of Center City: "You ain't Philly!"
Jake Nevin Field House, their home at the time of their 1985 National Championship, and The Pavilion, which that success allowed them to build, are next to each other, along with their bookstore, at 800 E. Lancaster Avenue. They also have a 12,500-seat stadium for their Division I-AA football team. SEPTA R5 commuter rail to Villanova Station.
Of the Big 5, only Temple plays Division I-A football: Temple, 'Nova and LaSalle play I-AA, and while St. Joseph's Prep has one of the better programs in Philly-area high school football, their collegiate namesake doesn't play football at all.
* Spike's Trophies. When the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society closed its facility in the northern suburb of Hatboro, they moved their operations, and the plaques honoring A's greats that used to be on the concourse wall at the Vet, to this store near Northeast Philadelphia Airport. 2701 Grant Avenue at Ashton Road. Market-Frankford Line to Frankford Transportation Center, then transfer to Number 50 Bus.
* Laurel Hill Cemetery. This is the final resting place of former Phillies manager Harry Wright, who founded the 1st professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in 1869; and of longtime broadcaster Harry Kalas. 215 Belmont Avenue in Bala Cynwyd, not far from the St. Joe's campus. Use the Number 44 bus to get to both.
* Gladwyne Methodist Church. Kalas' longtime broadcast partner, the Hall of Fame center fielder Richie "Whitey" Ashburn, is laid to rest here. 316 Righters Mill Road in Gladwyne. The Number 44 bus can also be used for this.
* Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. This is the final resting place of Connie Mack. 3301 W. Cheltenham Avenue. Broad Street Line to Olney Transportation Center, then Number 22 bus.
Philadelphia is home to Independence National Historic Park, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The Visitor's Center is at 6th & Market Streets: At this complex, there will be people there to advise you on what to do. 5th Street on the Market Street Line.
The President's House -- that's as formal a name as "the first White House" had -- was where George Washington (1790-97) and John Adams (1797-1800) lived while Philadelphia was the national capital before Washington, D.C.. It was demolished in 1832. When digging to build the new Liberty Bell Center, the house's foundation was found, and somebody must've asked, "Why didn't anybody think of this before?" So, an exhibit has been set up, at 530 Market Street at 6th. The new Liberty Bell Center is between it and Independence Hall (Chestnut Street between 5th and 6th). Be advised that since 9/11 -- and since the movie National Treasure -- they're understandably a bit finicky about security there.
The oldest surviving Presidential residence (chosen specifically for the President, not counting homes like Mount Vernon or Monticello) is the Germantown White House, which still stands at 5442 Germantown Avenue. George Washington and John Adams used it to escape the heat and, more importantly, the yellow fever epidemics of what's now Center City Philadelphia, making it less "the first Summer White House" and more "the first Camp David." SEPTA R7 to Germantown, then 3 blocks down Armat Street and a left on Germantown Avenue. Definitely not safe at night.
Speaking of George Washington, Valley Forge National Historical Park is just an hour's bus ride from Suburban Station. On JFK Blvd. at 17th Street, board the SEPTA 125 bus. Valley Forge Casino Resort and the King of Prussia Mall are a short drive (or a moderate walk) away. The fare is $4.75 each way ($9.50 total).
Only one President has ever come from Pennsylvania, and he might be the worst one of all: James Buchanan, whose Administration began with the Panic of 1857 and ended with the secession of several Southern States. (Whether Buchanan was gay has been debated since even before he became President, but the evidence is flimsy.) His home, Wheatland, still stands at 1120 Marietta Avenue in Lancaster, and he's buried about a mile away in Greenwood Cemetery. But Lancaster, the heart of "Pennsylvania Dutch Country," is 80 miles west of Philly. It's a cheap trip by Amtrak standards, but unless you've always wanted to visit the area, or you're a big history buff, I'd suggest forgetting about it if you're pressed for time.
Philadelphia's answer to the Museum of Natural History is the University of Pennsylvania Museum, at 33rd & South Streets, across from Franklin Field. (Same trolley stop.) Their answer to the Hayden Planetarium -- and a better one -- is the Franklin Institute, which is also the national memorial to Big Ben, the man who, more than any man made any city in the Western Hemisphere, made Philadelphia. 20th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Number 76 bus. 76, get it? The bus is nicknamed "The Ben FrankLine."
At the other end of the Parkway, at 25th and Spring Garden Streets, is Philly's answer to the Metropolitan, the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Rocky Balboa statue is here, and it doesn't cost anything except sweat to run up the steps.
The chocolate city of Hershey, Pennsylvania is 95 miles west of Center City, and only 15 miles east of the State Capitol in Harrisburg. The smell of chocolate wafts over the city, and is the source of the nickname "The Sweetest Place On Earth." Amtrak goes from 30th Street station to Harrisburg and nearby Middletown (the home of the infamous Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, which is still in operation and hasn't had an incident since the one in 1979), but if you want to go to any prominent place in Hersey, you'll have to rely on local bus service.
There are 4 prominent places. There's the Hershey's chocolate factory. There's Hersheypark amusement park. There's Hersheypark Stadium is a 15,641-seat high school football stadium, opened in 1939. On May 9, 1990, the U.S. soccer team beat Poland there. Most notably, Hersheypark Arena, formerly Hershey Sports Arena, which now seats 7,286 people. The Warriors and 76ers played a few home games here, including the March 2, 1962 contest between the Warriors and the Knicks, when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points.
The minor-league Hershey Bears used it from its opening in 1936 until 2002, when the 10,500-seat Giant Center opened next-door. It still hosts college hockey and concerts. Appropriately, the address of the Arena is 100 W. Hershey Park Drive.
No college football rivalry has been played more than Lafayette College and Lehigh University, separated by 17 miles of U.S. Route 22 in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Lafayette is in Easton, 69 miles north of Center City; Lehigh is in Bethlehem, 56 miles north. On occasion, they've played each other twice and, during World War II, even 3 times a season. Now, they limit themselves to 1. This coming November 22, they will play each other at the new Yankee Stadium, in their 150th meeting. Lafayette leads the series, 77-66-5. Lehigh's Goodman Stadium hosted a U.S. soccer game on October 23, 1993, a draw vs. Ukraine -- although I doubt too many people in the Delaware Valley were paying attention, as that was the day of Game 6 of the World Series, which the Phillies lost on the Joe Carter home run.
Believe it or not, it's easier to reach both Easton and Bethlehem without a car from New York than it is from Philadelphia: Transbridge Lines runs buses from Port Authority into the Lehigh Valley, and Susquehanna Trailways runs them from Philly's Greyhound Terminal at 1001 N. Filbert Street, across from the Market East Station.
Not surprising for a city of its size, Philadelphia has had a few TV shows set there, but not many actually filmed there. Boy Meets World was filmed entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. (Its sequel series, Girl Meets World, featuring Cory & Topanga Matthews and their kids, is set in New York.) Neither does It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia film in Philly -- and it is not always sunny there. Nor did Thirtysomething film there. Nor did Body of Proof. And, being a cartoon, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids didn't have to "film" anywhere. The 1960s flashback series American Dreams did some filming under the Market Street Elevated Line, but most of it was filmed in L.A. The films Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Story and The Philadelphia Experiment had a few Philly locations put in, but all filming was done in Southern California.
Probably the best-known film set in the city is Trading Places -- except a lot of it was filmed in and around New York! The New York Chamber of Commerce Building (65 Liberty Street) and the Seventh Regiment Armory (643 Park Avenue) stood in for the Heritage Club. Mill Neck Manor for the Deaf on Long Island stood in for the Duke Brothers' estate. And, of course, the climactic scene was set at the New York Mercantile Exchange, at 4 World Trade Center, which was at destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. Locations in the film that were absolutely in Philly were: 30th Street Station; Duke & Duke, at Fidelity Bank at 135 S. Broad Street, 2 blocks south of City Hall; and Lewis Winthorpe's residence, with exterior shots at 2014 Delancey Place at 20th Street, near Rittenhouse Square, which is where Eddie Murphy pretended to be a blind, legless Vietnam veteran. (This is a private residence: Walk down there if you like, but leave the residents alone.)
So, to sum up, I would definitely recommend to any baseball fan, even a Met fan, that they take in a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park. I think it's the best of the 1992-present "retro ballparks" -- even if the home fans aren't always nice.
I’d tell you to have fun, but, since you’re facing Philly fans, I’ll say, instead, “Try not to get yourself or anybody else killed.” And, on this occasion, that's no joke.