Philadelphia holds an extraordinary power and sense of place for any American citizen, with its foundation firmly rooted as the birthplace of independence, a "city of firsts," a "city of brotherly love," and William Penn's "holy experiment," where he hoped people of all faiths could gather together and live in a tolerant atmosphere of mutual trust. It's also coming back into its own as a vibrant urban center after several decades of political corruption and urban blight, and is again becoming one of the country's great cities, and the "next great city" according to a 2005 National Geographic Traveler article. It is the East Coast's second largest city and the fifth largest in the nation.
In fact, if you've always wanted to visit Philadelphia but have never been there, now is truly the time. While recreating itself as a hip urban destination and attracting thriving businesses to its core, Philadelphia has also revitalized the Independence Park historic district with the new Liberty Bell Center, Constitution Center, and Independence Visitor Center.
More than any other city in the U.S., Philadelphia has preserved its past, with more historic structure, records, letters and drawings than any other comparable city. The nation's "most historic square mile" showcases not only charming original cobblestone streets and 17th Century buildings, but is steeped in the ideas that built democracy, fueled independence, and crafted the simplest, yet most profound, document ever guiding any government: the Constitution.
Alongside the palpable sense of history in this birthplace of democracy are vibrant neighborhoods, fabulous new restaurants, a top-notch arts and music scene, and plush hotels. The past decade has seen the construction of the new Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the new sports arenas in South Philly, major refurbishing of various structures such as the Philadelphia Water Works and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, as well as the implementation of an enormous city-wide wifi network billed (in 2004) as the largest wireless network in the world.
The city also includes a wealth of parks and outdoor recreation facilities, including several beautiful bike paths. Canoeing, kayaking, and rowing are popular along both the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers.