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An Ode to Home: Reflections on Philadelphia

When coming to New York for college, I was so excited to finally leave my home. I’m from the suburbs of Philadelphia, and everything just seemed so monotonous about that life to me. Nothing was ever happening and I wasn’t in the middle of the action. I knew staying in Philly wasn’t for me, and thankfully, I got to come to New York and to Parsons, which has honestly been such a dream. However, now that I’m in my second year, I definitely appreciate my home for what it is and I love taking my time to fall back in love with my favorite places in Philly. That’s why I want to take you through some of my favorite sites from back home, in case you ever decide to travel to the city of brotherly (and sisterly) love. 

Being from the suburbs, I might not know some of the best places to visit within the city, but I know some killer views of the city itself. One of these awesome views is from Belmont Plateau, or “The Plat” as we call it. The Plat is on the way to an entrance to get on the main highway that runs along the Schuylkill River, guiding you into the city. The Plat itself is on a huge hill that has a baseball field at the bottom, but with trees and a stunning view of the skyline at the top. I learned about this scenic spot during my sophomore year of high school, and it’s still a place I love to go to with friends to relax and enjoy our lovely city.

A place much closer to the city that I love to visit is along a back road called Kelly Drive, which leads directly to the Philadelphia Art Museum (i.e. the “Rocky” steps). Along Kelly Drive, you can pull into numerous parking lots and just take a stroll along the walkway. This walkway stretches a few miles, so many people use this as a bike trail, walking trail, or running path from the boathouses that occupy the road closer to the Art Museum all the way under bridges and past picturesque landscapes. During the warmer months, this path is always bustling with people, enjoying the fresh air and the gorgeous views, but is still a great place to view the frozen river when it gets chilly. This path makes me feel like a tourist in my home city, constantly snapping photos and taking mental images as I look around me. It’s also nice since it’s an “in between” spot instead of being concretely in the city or in the suburbs. The middle ground is really refreshing.

Lastly, I want to take you to my absolute favorite place ever. For the past 10 years, my sister, dad and I have been going on “the drive.” This specific drive was found as we weaved through local roads and blasted our favorite songs for about an hour and a half. This route has been our constant course for years now, and it holds a special place in my heart. There’s a specific part of this drive where we pass these fields that seem like a combination of the Midwest and Ireland, and certainly do not belong just an hour outside of Philadelphia. But these fields are magical to me, the winding roads, the majestic sunsets, the fresh air—this combination always feels special to me no matter how often I pass by. This place, I assure you, is not popular, but it is dear to me and makes Philly so unique for me.

[Feature and secondary images by Melanie McCarthy]

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