Philadelphia/Center City East
City Center East is the most dense section of Philadelphia, home to City Hall, the Convention Center, Chinatown, Washington Square West, and Gayborhood.
Gayborhood is located within Center City East. It is a square, taking up from about Broad and Walnut about 11th and Pine. Gayborhood is comprised of bars, restaurants and has a bookstore with its very own history: Giovanni's Room (James Baldwin wrote a book with this title; he based it on the bookstore). Some places that attract large crowds are Woody's (Wednesday is college night), Pure and 12th Street Gym.
Chinatown is also located within Center City East, just blocks away from the Convention Center and Reading Terminal. Compared to the Chinatown of other cities, Philadelphia's is fairly small. An important landmark to the town is the Friendship Gate, located at 10th and Arch streets. Chinatown is filled with restaurants, bakeries and gift shops. Some restaurants include Penang, Sang Kee, Banana Leaf and Tai Lake. Bakeries include Asia Bakery, Hong Kong Bakery, Mong Kok Station Bakery and KC Pastries. Many goods include milk tea, bubble tea (also known as boba tea) egg tarts, pork buns, steamed buns, chicken buns and pineapple buns.
Washington Square West is also located within Center City East: 7th to Broad Street, Chestnut to South Street, squished in between Rittenhouse Square and Old City/Society Hill. Home of Antique Row and Mid-Town Village, two great shopping districts. Historic cobbled streets, theaters, restaurants and more.
- Washington Square is composed of several distinct neighborhoods and is convenient to America's most historic square mile. Washington Square West is a lively neighborhood, while east of the park is a bit more sedate. Antique Row, Pine Street between about 13th and 9th Streets, is full of interesting shops, not all of them antiques-oriented. Washington Square itself is worth a visit to see the tomb of the unknown Revolutionary War soldier. This neighborhood is a good place to see Philadelphia's native style of house, the "trinity" -- two, three, or four floors, one room per floor, connected by spiral stairs. The small streets above Pine, such as Quince Street, are lined with trinities. WalkPhiladelphia offers several interesting tours of Wash West.
- The Gayborhood is Philadelphia's gay-friendly area overlapping the officially designated Washington Square West neighborhood. The Gayborhood is most strongly associated with 12th and 13th streets, especially from Pine in the south to Walnut in the north, but spills out to the surrounding areas. Most straight-owned Gayborhood businesses are friendly to the LGBT community and straights alike regardless of orientation.
- The Philadelphia City Hall is unofficially the center of Center City at Broad and Market Street. The building is topped by a 36 feet, 4 inches, bronze statue of William Penn. Under a gentleman's agreement, City Hall remained the tallest building in the city until 1987.
- Chinatown extends from approximately 8th Street to 11th Street east-west, and Vine Street to Market Street north-south. Despite the name, Philadelphia's Chinatown has a variety of Asian ethnicities and has recently become one of the most popular neighborhoods for young people. The streets of are dominated by homes, restaurants, and boutique stores. Chinatown's symbol is its "Friendship Arch", an ornate paifang in the heart of the neighborhood. Though it is commonly found in many North American Chinatowns, the Arch Street incarnation is more elaborately rendered than most.
By regional rail
Market East Station is an underground station that is on Market Street between 9th and 12th Sts. It is one of three core Center City stations on the SEPTA Regional Rail system. There are several entrances, but the main one is on 12th & Filbert Sts.
The Market-Frankford Line runs under Market Street with three stations serving Center City East: 8th Street (non-free connection to the Broad-Ridge Spur), 11th Street, and 13th Street (free connection to the Broad Street Line and the Subway-Surface Trolleys).
The Broad Street Line runs under Broad Street along the western edge of the district, with stops at Race-Vine, City Hall (free connection to the Market-Frankford Line and the Subway-Surface Trolleys), Walnut-Lucust, and Lombard-South. The names of the hyphenated stations indicate the two parallel streets the station is situated between.
The Broad-Ridge Spur is a branch of the Broad Street Line that operates under 8th Street in Center City East. The stations serving the district are Chinatown (at 8th and Race Streets) and 8th Street (at Market Street, non-free connection to the Market-Frankford Line). The Spur operates 6AM-9PM Monday through Saturday, no Sunday service.
- The African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch St (at 7th St), ☎ +1 215 574-0380. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Built to preserve, interpret, and exhibit achievements of African Americans. $14 adults, $8 children (4-12)/students (with ID)/seniors.
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), 128 N Broad St (between Cherry and Race), ☎ +1 215 972-7600. A school that has had an impressive roster of artist alumni in the past 200 years, including some of the best-known names in American art. Its museum shows works from past and present PAFA students and faculty, as well as regular special exhibits.
- Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent, 15 S 7th St (between Market and Randstead), ☎ +1 215 685-4830. Tu-Sa 10:30AM-4:30PM. This museum, "where history inspires the future," is located just around the corner from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, features a hands-on and comprehensive history of America's "birthplace" and founding city. Unique to the museum is a "walkable" map of the region on the floor of the museum. In minutes, you can walk between suburban Montgomery County and the heart of Philadelphia in Center City! $10 adults, $8 seniors, $6 students and teens, free for children 12 and under.
- Wanamaker Organ, 1300 Market St (inside the Macy's store). The largest operational musical instrument in the world is played twice a day in the store, six days each week.
The Avenue of the Arts is on Broad Street containing many of the city's cultural institutions, especially the theater and arts area south of City Hall. The Avenue is a becoming more residential, but the main attractions include the Kimmel Center, Merriam Theatre, and the Academy of Music.
- Kimmel Center, 260 S Broad St, ☎ +1 215 893-1999. Showcases a variety of performing arts from chamber music, dance, drama, orchestral, jazz & pop.
- The Philadelphia Orchestra (at the Kimmel Center). Founded in 1900, the Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the most famous and widely traveled orchestras in the world. Performs in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
- Academy of Music, 1420 Locust St, ☎ +1 215 893-1935. The Academy is the oldest grand opera house in the United States still being used for its original purpose. The Academy also provides the Philadelphia area with interesting and popular concerts, ballets, Broadway shows, and other events. Tours of the Academy, focusing on its inspiring history and current renovations, are available by contacting the manager's office.
Theater and music
There are a number of venues for theater and music not on the Avenue of the Arts.
- The Mask and Wig Club, 310 S Quince St (between Spruce and Pine), ☎ +1 215 586-3729. Mask and Wig has presented comedy, music, and dancing to the University of Pennsylvania, to Philadelphia and to audiences across the country since 1889 and is a legend amongst Philadelphia theatre-goers. Each spring, Mask and Wig performs a full-length musical comedy at its historic Clubhouse.
- The Trocadero, 1003 Arch St (at 10th St), ☎ +1 215 922-6888. Typically features indie/alternative acts and local acts.
- Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St (at 9th St), ☎ +1 215 574-3550. America's oldest theatre celebrated its 200th anniversary season in 2009. Shows regularly sell out, and travelers are advised to buy in advance. The theater is a self-producing, non-profit regional theater.
- The Gallery at Market East, 901 Market St (three city blocks on north side of Market St, stretching from 8th to 11th Sts), ☎ +1 215 625-4962. M-Th,Sa 10AM-7PM, F 10AM-8PM, Su noon-5PM. Located atop a major transit hub (the Market East Station on the SEPTA Regional Rail system), this oh-so-dated urban shopping mall in urgent need of renovation - or maybe just demolition - is a master class in bad urban planning. A place be to avoided.
- Reading Terminal Market, 12th and Arch Sts (entrances on Arch St, Filbert St, and 12th St), ☎ +1 215 922-2317. M-Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 9AM-5PM. The Reading Terminal Market is home to many of Pennsylvania's Amish merchants who sell their goods. Here, you can find some of the best baked goods and the freshest organic produce in the region. Additionally, the market features cheesesteaks and other non-Amish restaurants and shops.
- Antique Row Pine street between 9th and 13th is home to a mix of antique stores and local gift and craft boutiques. Visit the Foodery at 10th and Pine for a selection of hundreds of by-the-bottle beers from around the world, or a few blocks down, ring the bell at Halloween (1329 Pine) for an incredible jewelry store experience that can accommodate any budget.
- Giovanni's Room, 345 S 12th St (at Pine), ☎ +1 215 923-2960. M-Sa 11:30AM-7PM, Su 1PM-7PM. An LGBT bookstore.
East of Broad St, "East meets West". Philadelphia's Chinatown is an ethnic section of the city that can't be missed. Why settle for Chinese buffets when you can get the authentic stuff right here? There's no need to. Chinatown is located north of The Gallery at Market East and close to the Reading Terminal Market.
- Shanghai Bazaar, 1016 Race St (between 10th and 11th Sts), ☎ +1 215 629-8398. 10:30AM-8PM daily. Two floors of random Chinese merchandise; the upstairs has a lot of music, books, and DVDs. They also have a man in back that does Chinese massage and acupressure.
Washington Square West
- Effie's, 1127 Pine St (at Quince, between 11th and 12th Sts), ☎ +1 215 592-8333. M-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 5PM-9PM. Effie's is one of two well-known Greek restaurants east of Broad St., though it's more unassuming than Kanella and looks like part of an ordinary rowhouse. Inside, a bright but cozy atmosphere awaits either inside or outside on the courtyard patio in back. While the food isn't particularly inventive, it wins points for making basic Greek dishes excellent. BYOB.
- El Fuego, 723 Walnut St (between 7th and 8th Sts), ☎ +1 215 592-1901. M-F 11AM-9PM, Sa-Su noon-6PM. The best advertisement for this hip burrito shop is the long line that develops inside every weekday at lunchtime.
- Kanella, 1001 Spruce St (at 10th St), ☎ +1 215 922-1773. Breakfast/lunch: M-F 11AM-3PM, Sa-Su 10AM-3PM; dinner: Tu-Sa 5PM-10:30PM (open Su 5PM-9PM for Cypriot meze). It's hard not to see Kanella coming a mile away, what with its bright blue exterior and white Greek lettering. Yes, the food is Cypriot-Greek, and unlike most Greek places, you can eat three meals a day there if you're so inclined. Which you may very well be after eating dinner once. Semi-casual, spare, elegant decor and friendly service. BYOB. Entrees $18-24.
- Lolita, 106 S 13th St (between Drury and Sansom), ☎ +1 215 546-7100. Su-Tu 5PM-10PM, W-Th 5PM-10:30PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM. The sexy little Lolita has won heaps of praise since it opened, including Best Margaritas in Philadelphia, which is saying a lot for a BYOB (you bring the bottle of tequila, they do the rest). The menu is "nuevo-Mexican," which is to say, a very elegant twist on south-of-the-border fare. Prices are good for food this delicious, and everyone else in Philadelphia knows it too, so be prepared for a wait on Friday or Saturday (no reservations accepted then). Mains $18-24.
- Vetri, 1312 Spruce St (between 13th and Juniper Sts), ☎ +1 215 732-3478. M-Sa 6PM-9PM, Su closed. Bon Appetit magazine has said that this small, very upscale place is "probably the best Italian restaurant in America." 'Nuff said. But in case you need to hear it from the locals, the Philadelphia Inquirer has named it one of the top 5 restaurants in the city, along with Le Bec Fin and a few others. The tasting menu is the only option, $155.
- Zinc, 246 S 11th St (between Locust and Spruce), ☎ +1 215 351-9901. Tu-Su 5PM-11PM, M closed. The word "charming" is not nearly enough to describe Zinc, which strives to recreate the kind of neighborhood eatery found in the Marais district of Paris to a T. Food is classic French, of course, as is the decor, which includes a 1919 zinc bar that chef and owner Olivier Desaintmartin had shipped from France. Drinks include many hard-to-find French wines and liqueurs, and the staff are warm and personable. In 2007, Zinc won Best Restaurant of the Year from Philadelphia Magazine. Entrees $15-22.
- David's Mai Lai Wah, 1001 Race St (at 10th St), ☎ +1 215 627-2610. Su-Th 11:30AM-3AM, F-Sa 11:30AM-4AM. Excellent Chinese food. Open late, and a very nice staff.
- Reading Terminal Market, 12th and Arch Sts. M-Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 9AM-5PM. America's oldest farmer's market is a bustling indoor public market hall, with produce markets, bakeries, arts and crafts, a beer garden, and virtually every type of cuisine present. Be sure to make some time to stroll around and sample as much as you can. Despite the market's stated hours, individual vendors operate their own schedules; some restaurants will be open for dinner, and some, particular the Pennsylvania Dutch shops, are closed on Sundays.
- Bassett's Ice Cream. A local ice cream brand that has operated the same store at the same location in Reading Terminal Market since it opened in 1893, and has the distinction of being America's oldest ice cream company. While Bassett's is available at many other restaurants and supermarkets, this is the only retail outlet carrying the Bassett's name. The ice cream itself is rich, creamy and delicious. $3-$5.
- Spataro's Cheesesteaks, ☎ +1 215 925-6833. One of the best cheesesteaks at the market. Long lines, especially around lunch. $9-$11.
- Sang Kee Peking Duck, 238 N 9th St (at Winter, south of Vine), ☎ +1 215 925-7532. Su-Th 10AM-10:45PM, F-Sa 10AM-11:45PM. One of the best places to eat in Chinatown. The Peking duck is, obviously, what Sang Kee is famous for, but other delights abound, like wonton noodle soup and pork spare ribs. Unpretentious, casual surroundings and brisk service. Great for big groups. Entrees $8.50-25.
- Yakitori Boy, 211 N 11th St (between Race and Spring), ☎ +1 215 923-8088. 5PM-2AM daily. A Japanese restaurant, with a karaoke bar and lounge upstairs. You can either rent private rooms, which are pricey but worth it with a large group of friends, or if you're brave enough, get your drink on and then sign up to sing publicly at the bar.
Washington Square West
- Dirty Frank's, 347 S 13th St (at Pine), ☎ +1 215 732-5010. 11AM-2AM daily. One of the contenders for best dive bar in the city. Everything you could want: an eclectic, scruffy crowd both old and young, gay and straight, pinball, darts, random crap stuck up all over the bar, wisecracking bartender, cheap drinks. Cash only.
- Sisters, 1320 Chancellor St (at Juniper), ☎ +1 215 735-0735. Tu-Sa 5PM-2AM, Su 4PM-2AM, M closed. A lesbian bar in the Gayborhood.
- Woody's, 202 S 13th St (between Walnut and Chancellor), ☎ +1 215 545-1893. M 8PM-2AM, Tu-Su 4PM-2AM. A gay bar with 3 different rooms to satisfy everyone.
- Old City Coffee, 1136 Arch St (Reading Terminal Market), ☎ +1 215 592-1897. M-Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 9AM-5PM. One of the two branches is located inside the Reading Terminal Market serving good coffee.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Center City, 237 S Broad St (at Locust), ☎ +1 215 893-1600. $165 average.
- Marriott Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown, 21 N Juniper St (northwest of City Hall between Commerce and Filbert), ☎ +1 215 496-3200. Re-opened after a grand $75 million restoration. This 18-story, 498-room Philadelphia hotel opened in 1926 and is listed on the "National Register of Historic Places". The hotel now integrates state-of-the-art systems with unique architectural details like coffered plaster, stunning bronze work and striking marble finishes.
- Residence Inn by Marriott Philadelphia Center City, 1 E Penn Sq (east side of City Hall between Market and Commerce), ☎ +1 215 557-0005.
Washington Square West
- Alexander Inn, 301 S 12th St (at Spruce), ☎ +1 215 923-3535, toll-free: +1 877 253-9466, fax: +1 215 923-1004, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. In a bohemian section of Washington Square West. $119+.
- The Independent Hotel Philadelphia, 1234 Locust St (at 13th St), ☎ +1 215 772-1440. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. $169+.
- Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, 1201 Market St (between 12th and 13th Sts), ☎ +1 215 625-2900. Adjacent to the Pennsylvania Convention Center and 8 blocks from Independence Hall, this Center City Philadelphia hotel is located near dining, shopping, business, & cultural attractions.
|Routes through Center City East (by subway)|
|Northwest Philadelphia ← North Philadelphia ←||N S||→ South Philadelphia → END|
|Upper Darby ← Center City West ←||SW NE||→ Old City → Northeast Philadelphia|
|Routes through Center City East (by commuter rail)|
|END ← North Philadelphia ←||N S||→ Center City West → Philadelphia International Airport|
|Northwest Philadelphia ← North Philadelphia ←||NW SE||→ Center City West → West Philadelphia|
|Northwest Philadelphia ← Center City West ←||NW SE||→ North Philadelphia → END|
|West Philadelphia ← Center City West ←||SW NE||→ North Philadelphia → Northeast Philadelphia|
|Norristown ← North Philadelphia ←||NW SE||→ Center City West → West Philadelphia|