When I was growing up, trapped in the suburbs, I cherished our trips to the big city. My family took the train in to see the holiday windows of Saks and Lord&Taylor or see a Broadway musical and I just couldn’t get enough. I loved the fast pace, the outfits and the feeling that the world was at your fingertips. I knew early on that I wanted to be a part of New York City. I wanted to have a cute and small (but not too small) apartment in a trendy building in Soho, traipse around town in patent leather heels and spend summer afternoons stretched out tanning in Central Park. Some girls dream of a pretty house with a picket fence or a beach bungalow overlooking the surf; I wanted an apartment in a brownstone walk-up where I could hear the hum of the city and walk around the corner to my favorite coffee shop. Now, 23 and trying to find a job that will pay me enough to afford any pair of heels, I am a little more realistic. I haven’t forgotten my dream of living in the big city but I’ve modified it a little bit. And I think I found the perfect way to have the city, even if it’s not New York City, and fit it into my tight budget.
Meet Northern Liberties. This up-and-coming neighborhood of Philadelphia is my new big girl dream for my home-sweet-home. Right off 95 and minutes from Old City, it’s an area that’s being revitalized from its manufacturing and red light district (!) past. Some of the old factories that specialized in leather tanning or breweries have been renovated and repurposed as lofts. It’s become popular for young professionals, Temple students, and artists. It has two public parks including the Piazza at Schmidt’s, a closed square surrounded by modern glass walled apartment buildings and includes a jumbo TV that plays Phillies games in the summer. Philadelphia’s own beer company, the Yard’s Brewing Company is located there as well.
My boyfriend and I ventured down to Northern Liberties this past Saturday for dinner before heading down to a piano bar in Center City (more about that one later). It was not love at first sight by any means; as we drove around there were many vacant lots and buildings in construction. But when I took a closer look, I realized this was just what I was looking for. Modern apartment buildings with their glass walls and iron balconies pulled me in and I loved the feeling of being in a neighborhood with the cities steps away. We walked down 2nd street, checked out the Piazza and salivated over all the amazing looking restaurants. We stumbled upon North 3rd, a restaurant
at the corner of 3rd and Brown. It’s a totally wacky little place with a huge crow flying over the bar, chili pepper twinkle lights and kitschy stuff all over the walls. The boy had this delicious pork tenderloin and I had a crispy chicken sandwich completewith guacamole and bacon. The highlight of evening was definitely my Francis Coppola Sofia sparkling wine. It came in a can with a little pink straw attached! I am a sucker for champagne, pink, and a little kitsch.
The rent’s a little pricey in the area but a girl can dream of a non-profit job that pays right? I can just imagine riding my bike down 2nd street, chowing down at a little outside café and living my big city dreams in Philadelphia.