Overview: Philadelphia has long been considered a cradle of historic significance. But the city is home to more than just the Liberty Bell. Over... more »
Philadelphia has long been considered a cradle of historic significance. But the city is home to more than just the Liberty Bell. Over... more » the years, Philadelphia has carved itself a significant niche in the pop culture front. From the dance floors on the "Bandstand" television show to the top of those Art Museum steps, Philly has been a mover in the arts, culture and foods that shape the United States.
This tour salutes just a few of the people and places that put Philly on the pop culture map. Some may be instantly recognizable - Rocky, anyone? - while others are uniquely Philly's own (though you'll probably be able to strut down Broad Street Mummers-style by the end of the day). Combined, they make the city what it is today - a celebration of immigrant cultures, sheer determination, and greasy sandwiches. Yo, Adrian, can you pass the Whiz? less «
This tour is definitely for the car. Most stops will be quick, and there is street parking available at each. (Be sure to feed the... more » meters or, more often, the kiosks.) You'll start the tour at the Art Museum, where you can park free behind the WaterWorks Restaurant.
The tour is timed so you'll arrive at South Street for lunch (if you make this a morning tour) or dinner (if you're touring in the afternoon). This is so you can take advantage of the countless food choices on the street...that is, if you resisted Pat's steak sandwiches on the previous stop. less «
Through the years, we Philadelphians have looked up to our sports heroes. Despite what the record books say, we've had our share of hometown heroes. Mike Schmidt. Bobby Clarke. Donovan McNabb. Dr. J. Smarty Jones.
But topping that list is an athlete who never really played in Philly - or anywhere at all, for that matter: the fictional boxer Rocky... More Balboa. Rocky embodies the plucky "can't keep us down" attitude locals here embrace. As written and played by Philly native Sylvester Stallone in the iconic 1976 movie, Rocky was the little nobody who could...and did. Just like the rest of us.
So it's fitting we start this pop culture tour here, at the foot of the Art Museum steps. Rocky famously ran up these steps during a training session before taking on nemesis Apollo Creed. If you make it to the top, you'll find the bronze soles of Stallone's Converse shoes set in cement - and a breathtaking view of the Ben Franklin Parkway.
The story behind the story: Stallone wrote the first draft of the screenplay in three days. Producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff offered the down-and-out writer $350,000 for the rights, but Sly refused unless he was tapped to star in the movie. They agreed, but only if Stallone stayed on as a writer for free and worked as an actor for scale. Done deal. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Stallone was nominated in the Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay categories, but didn't win either.
The studio, by the way, wanted Robert Redford, James Caan or Burt Reynolds to play the role that changed Stallone's life.
A bronze statue of Rocky Balboa is at the foot of the steps, to the right when facing the Museum. Head over for a photo with Rocky before moving on in the tour.
Free parking is available behind the museum.
Admission: Free to run up the steps
For the museum - Adults: $16
Seniors (65 & over): $14
Students (with valid ID): $12
Youth (13–18): $12
Children (12 & under): Free
First Sunday of every month - pay what you wish
Steps: Daily, 24 hours per day
26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Phone: (215) 763-8100Less
Hop back into your car to take the 2.29 mile trek northwest across the Schuylkill Expressway (Route 76) toward Market. Stop at 4548 Market Street, currently the home of The Enterprise Center.
This building used to house Studio B, the innovative Philadelphia television station that hosted, among other shows, "American Bandstand" in its earliest... More inception.
Hordes of Philadelphia teenagers would line up here, hoping for access to the studio and a chance to dance on TV. Back then (September, 1952) the show (known merely as Bandstand) was hosted by Bob Horn, who originated the show on radio. In 1956, Horn was fired after a drunk driving charge. A little known radio host named Dick Clark was brought in as Horn's replacement, a job he would hold for more than 30 years.
Check out the site marker outside the building. In August 2012, a sidewalk plaque will be revealed in honor of American Bandstand's 55th anniversary and the April 2012 death of Clark, who hosted the show until 1987.
The Enterprise Center
4548 Market Street
Unfortunately, tours of Studio B are offered only occasionally. However, you can check out the building and the commemorative plaque any time of day.
Phone Number: 215-384-1269Less
Back to the car for the almost six-mile journey south east to Citizens Bank Park and the Philadelphia sports complex.
Right across the Walt Whitman Bridge from South Jersey, Citizens Bank Park is just one of the three stadiums that make up the Philadelphia sports complex (the other two are the Wells Fargo Center, home of the 76ers basketball team... More and the Flyers hockey team, and Lincoln Financial Field - belovedly called the Linc - home of the Philadelphia Eagles football team).
Considered one of the best baseball parks in the country, Citizens Bank Park is the home of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies moved there in 2004, after 30 years of playing at Veterans Stadium, which they shared with the Eagles.
CBP is also the home of the Phillie Phanatic, perhaps the best-known and most beloved of all sports mascots. (So saith Forbes Magazine in 2001 and 2008.)
Trivia - in 2007, Citizens Bank Park won the "Best Ballpark Eats" title, as bestowed by the Food Network. The park got its name from Citizens Bank, which paid $95 million over 25 years for a naming-rights-and-broadcast-media package.
Seniors and children 3-14: $6
During the season on non-game days, tours are Monday-Saturday at 10:30am
On game days, tours are Monday-Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
In the off-season, tours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10:30 a.m.
Tours are not available on Sundays, major holidays, or days when the Phillies have an afternoon game.
One Citizens Bank Way
After checking out the sports complex, head back to your car for the 3.2-mile ride northeast to Second Street, the home base for the Philadelphia Mummers.
What are Mummers, you ask? Ah, you may as well ask what is New Year's. Let's make this easy - think of the Mummers like a New Orleans Mardi Gras, only with string bands and a hangover. (It is... More on New Year's Day, after all.)
The Mummers are costumed performers who take to the streets on New Year's Day, parading, playing music and making merriment to welcome another year. Philadelphia mummery can be traced back to the late 17th century, when immigrants to the area wanted to continue their unique New Year's welcome celebrations. By the 1870s, these celebrations were combined in an area-wide parade. The City of Philadelphia finally decided if they can't beat them, join them, and embraced the parade. It became officially sponsored on January 1, 1901.
Unless you're visiting in January, you won't be able to see the Mummers in action. But a visit to the Mummers Museum is the next best thing. Here you'll see the costumes, hear the saxes and banjos, and dance along to a chorus of "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers."
1100 S. 2nd Street
All that mummery revelry is likely to work up an appetite. Time to head about a mile west to 12th and Passyunk where you'll find Pat's King of Steaks, an important stop in Philly pop culture. (It's also a great place to grab some lunch, if you're so inclined.)
Philadlephia, after all, is known for the cheese steak, and this is the birthplace of... More that simple but savory sandwich. Pat's has been serving up steak sandwiches wit or wit'out cheese since 1930, when owner Pat Oliveri and his brother Harry decided they were hankering for something other than than the hot dogs sold from their cart. Pat chopped some beef, scooped it into a fresh Italian roll, and added some fried onions. A cabbie asked for a bite of the sandwich, Oliveri obliged, and a legend was born.
A sign on site explains how to order a sandwich - "wit or wit-out" onions, wit Whiz (Cheese Whiz, the topping of choice), provolone or American cheese. Pat's sells an average of 1,500 steak sandwiches a day.
Rival Geno's Steaks is directly across the street, and a friendly rivalry between the two competitors is often cited in the press. But the sandwiches on either side of the street are delicious - and a favorite of visitors to the city.
24/7 closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
1237 East Passyunk Avenue
"Where do all the hippies meet? South Street! South Street!"
That jingle, circa the mid-1960s, referred to one of Philadelphia's biggest tourist attractions. South Street - in particular, the east-west border between Center City and South Philly - continues to be a city meeting place, not only for hippies, but for families, teenagers, college... More students, young professionals and just about anyone who would enjoy the eclectic mix of ethnic eateries, tattoo parlors, fashion boutiques, record stores and other shops, bars and restaurants along the eight-block section of South.
Don't miss Philadelphia's Magic Gardens at 1200 South. This art community/gallery includes the magical mosaics of Isaiah Zagar, including a massive outdoor mosaic sculpture garden that spans half a block. Back in the 60s, when this section of the street was doomed to demolition, Zagar began creating mosaics on any available wall or alleyway. The results still stand today, and are still as inspiring as they are creative.
Varies; always opened before noon with some establishments partying into the wee wee hours
The most popular destination spots for the South Street/Headhouse District run between 2nd and 4th streets between Front and 10th streets.