When I accepted the opportunity to join the PHLCVB this past March, I rented a small apartment in Center City as I’d be living apart from my family for about 15 months (upending my middle son’s fast-approaching senior year in high school back in Dallas was not an option!).
Living in Center City has allowed me to fully integrate myself into Philadelphia and enjoy what our residents and – more importantly – our visitors get to experience every day. Having lived in suburban environments for the past 25 years, I’m now enjoying life in a vibrant community–busy sidewalks, thousands of college students, a varied ethnic and generational population and endless energy–seven days a week!
Plus, walking 10,000 steps a day– 12 to 15,000 on most weekends–has given me a sense of urban living while feeling healthier and proud to be an environmental ally. In a matter of minutes, I can get from my apartment near Rittenhouse Square to the amazing museums on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway or to the Schuylkill Banks River Trail for a walk.
I’ve also enjoyed the changing seasons of the East Coast, completely experiencing how Philadelphia is beautiful year-round with incredible photo opportunities at every turn.
Two weekends ago, while our sales team hosted a familiarization trip for a few Chicago customers, it was refreshing to see how their perceptions of Philadelphia changed during their short 48-hour visit. Most had never been to Philadelphia and some hadn’t been in over a decade, so when I asked what they were expecting they had a lot of misconceptions of an older, industrial city. They were all used to working and living in a large U.S. city, but they didn’t realize how walkable Center City is, how the Pennsylvania Convention Center is right in the middle of the city with easy access to thousands of hotels rooms, hundreds of restaurants, historical attractions and cultural venues. This collection of key assets is something few cities can offer…and Philadelphia has it! As I watched each of our guests evolve their thinking about Philadelphia, it was nice to see their impressions of the city change, much like mine did eight months ago when I first began my walks around town.
I now know, as do our recent Chicago visitors, that Philadelphia has a genuine energy that makes people easily feel at home. It’s been one of the greatest joys of my job this first year to see firsthand how new visitors to Philadelphia are so nicely surprised once they’ve had time to explore.