Earlier this year, I received an invitation from a librarian at the Philadelphia City Institute to speak about my book, Left Bank of the Hudson (Fordham University Press). I didn’t need to consider my calendar or conflicts: I quickly accepted.
This past weekend, my wife and I visited Philadelphia to share an afternoon with an old friend. Instead of “visited,” I should say returned. Philadelphia was our home for nearly five years. In Philadelphia, I spent the more formative years of my young adulthood, met the woman who would become my wife, discovered the joys and aggravations of urban living, and experienced a world beyond my own for the first time. This was my wife’s and my first return in several years. Time appears to have treated Philadelphia well.
Holiday shoppers packed the downtown sidewalks and spilled into the narrow streets. Families watched the Christmas light show at the old Wanamaker’s department store. Ambitious cooks searched for ingredients and dishes at the Reading Terminal Market. Literature lovers crowded the narrow Joseph Fox Bookshop. Philadelphia was busier and brimming with more activity than I certainly remember, and we didn’t even stay out late enough to witness the nightlife. This great American city appeared to be bustling and thriving once again.