Monday, June 1, 2009
Posted by Tenley at 9:56 PM
My favorite block in Philadelphia right now is the 1900 block of Waverly, on the east end. A narrow street, tree-lined, the houses lining it have eight or so steps up to the front door, pressed flat against the building in an inverted "v" so that each house looks like it has a moustache. Flowers and polished wooden doors complement the homes, and children playing ball in the street often complete the charming picture. There's a house for sale on this street, but as I can barely afford my rent each month, I won't be buying there anytime soon. Still, on my walks home from the train, I try to guide my steps down this lovely little block, and I sigh as the traffic sounds fade for a moment.
What I love about Philly is that the city is full of charming blocks, quirky buildings, community gardens, and neighborly people. There's the family who let my son into their home one evening as we were walking past, because he needed to use the bathroom and their daughter overheard him say so; the elderly woman in my friend's building who gives advice and tells anyone who'll listen about her days growing up in racist North Carolina in the 30s and 40s; the man who runs my laundromat and knows everyone within a four-block radius by name; the locksmith who, though he still charged me to open up my door, offered me a receptionist job when I cried that I had no money. (Too bad I'd have needed a car to get there!) Then there's the drunk guy who hangs out on his stoop with his cat and tries to look up women's skirts, the fevered youth preaching hellfire and damnation with a bullhorn in Rittenhouse Square, the inescapable campaigners with their clipboards, and the bus drivers who keep going when you run three blocks to try to catch them. The city is full of beautiful blocks and bombed-out shells, of meticulous parks and rambunctious cottage gardens, of drag queens and society queens. I can't guarantee you won't get mugged here or berated by the homeless or cheated out of a cab by a drunk debutante. But I can guarantee that Philadelphia can blossom for you too, if you smile at it and say hello. And I promise I'll keep sharing with you the little gems I find in my daily meanderings.