That’s it. I am officially on my own again.We had an emotional farewell back at Towson, hugging, kissing, and promising to stay in touch, then we all went our separate ways, back to the various corners of the earth from whence we came. Except I wasn’t ready to go home just then. I went to Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, home to the legendary Philly Cheesesteak and Robert Indiana’s famous LOVE sculpture. The Amtrak from Baltimore got me in at about 3pm, to by the time I’d got to my Hotel, dumped my stuff, rejoiced briefly at the fact I wasn’t room-sharing anymore, changed my clothes and brushed my teeth, there was still plenty of the day left to fill EXACTLY HOW I WANTED.
This is the beauty of traveling alone. Don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate the company of others too, and sometimes there’s nothing better than having somebody with you to share your experiences with (you know who you are). But not this time! Today is the day of the lone traveller, and what I say goes.
The fist thing I noticed, as I headed downtown, was the architecture. There was not an ugly building in sight, and no building resembled another in any way. The tallest building in the city is the eco-friendly, 975 foot tall, brand spanking new Comcast Center. It’s so shiny you wouldn’t want to walk past it on a bad hair day, and there’s a gaping big hole at the top, so you can’t really miss it. It’s beautiful.
Right across the street from it it is a building which is the opposite in just about every way. The stunning, early 20th century, gothic style Robert Morris building (named after the British-born deceleration of independence cosignatory and early businessman) has just been converted into apartments. I WANT ONE.
The architectural contrast between the two is stark, and can best be appreciated when the older is viewed in the reflection of the newer. 20th century meets 21st. Told you it was shiny.
My personal favourite is the BNY Mellon Center building. It’s got this sort of neo-classical thing going on, and with it’s vertical lines and “frilly” top, it kind of reminds me of a Greco-Roman column. There’s actually a pyramid on the top that you can’t see from this angle, which is home to the prestigious and imaginatively-named Pyramid Club. Also in building are offices from Aberdeen Asset Management, which, I appreciate isn’t very interesting unless you’ve been living in Aberdeen for the last 4 years. In which case it is… Admittedly only slightly.
Not forgetting the City Hall. The world’s tallest masonry building and the seat of the government of the City of Philadelphia. And I failed to get it all on camera at once because It’s so bloody HUGE. It’s actually a massive quadrangle, and the photo below is just the middle of one of the four sides… Where’s a panoramic lens when you need one!
The next thing I noticed was the number of random sculptures there are absolutely everywhere; Giant dominos and chess pieces scattered randomly around…
…I don’t even know what this is…
… And of course the famed icon that is the LOVE statue…
Night-time wanderings (the kind I had been warned against) uncovered more fascinating pieces of civic decoration… Like this giant clothes peg (which I’m sure must have a meaning deeper than any I can comprehend right now).
… And this oversized paint brush, under which was something that could only be described as turd-like…
I did rather enjoy this life-size neon mock-up of an aviation disaster, made out of an actual US bomber. The sculptor, Jordan Griska, had apparently bought the cold-war era Grumman SE-2 Tracker on eBay (as you do), then manipulated it using ‘origami techniques’ to make it look like it had crashed (as you do).
Ok, this is not technically a sculpture, but it’s cool so I’m including it. These are neon lights of many talents, and did a lot of funky stuff other than the star spangled display of patriotic cheer you see below.
The last thing I saw before the lure of the king-size bed back at my hotel (after a week of alcohol-hindered sleeps in a tiny dorm bed) began to become all-consuming, was the Wanamaker building. It’s basically just a big-ass department store, but it has a large set of doric columns that my mother would find appealing, a nicely hung US flag, and a palm tree, so it would be rude not to include it.
Tomorrow is my first whole day in this beautiful city, and I have big, touristy plans for it (and maybe a special guest) which I’m sure you are all super excited to see… Haha. Goodnight!