Philadelphia is a big place, especially from the perspective of two naive, newly-married twenty-two year olds who have no idea what they are doing in life. So when my husband and I decided to move to Philadelphia, we could have had an ending described as nothing short of catastrophic. However, as luck would have it, we found the perfect area of Philadelphia to live in.
Deciding what part of Philadelphia to move to was dependent upon where I ended up teaching. It was 2009 and I had passed my interview and was guaranteed a job with the School District of Philadelphia. At that time, they were hiring a ton of teachers and I could have been placed anywhere. Being a first-year teacher, it was difficult to land an interview for site-selection and my interview score determined when I would come in to pick a school. The school I chose was one with a poor reputation and one that had a new incoming Principal. The new Principal gave it a slight benefit over the four or five other schools that were left by the time I got to pick. Once my school was chosen, my husband and I were tasked with the job of finding an apartment. Having only one car and no idea where he would be working, we decided to find an area that was within walking distance of my school.
While embarking upon the glorious ordeal of apartment hunting, I remember driving to view what would become our new apartment, finding ourselves on a street called Baltimore Avenue. Baltimore Avenue holds the small-town feel that you would get in say, Stars Hollow, but with an Urban, Hipster feel. On this street you can find parks, a book shop, pet shop, numerous ethnic restaurants, gift shops, and a ton that I’ve yet to explore. This is a street that you can walk down and be almost guaranteed to recognize at least one person in your path. This street was the determining factor. Once we saw it, we knew that we wanted to live in a place where we could walk around the corner and face multiple options for a night out. To me, Baltimore Avenue represents all that West Philadelphia has to offer. There is community and uniqueness. It is, to put it simply, a beautiful place.
For my first blog post, here are a few favorite aspects of Baltimore Avenue, the place that encouraged us to move home.
If you have traveled to Philadelphia, you’ll know that there are an endless number of beautiful murals. These have been created in an effort to lower the amount of graffiti that would otherwise deface the buildings. This is one mural that can be found in West Philadelphia. A goal that Matt and I have is to see, and photograph, every mural in Philadelphia.
Clark Park is, to me, one of the most well-known pieces of West Philadelphia. If you mention Clark Park to a Philadelphia resident, they will likely have been there at some point. Clark Park is what represents community in West Philadelphia. Saturday mornings are my personal favorite times in Clark Park – the Farmers Market comes each Saturday, rain, snow, or shine. The spring and summer are our favorite time to grab breakfast (at a cafe’ on Baltimore Ave., of course!) in the morning and then head over to the Farmers Market for fresh vegetables, flowers, and Amish sweets. This is a common morning for West Philadelphians, and one that, I think I can safely say, most look forward to.
Although Matt is worth looking at, take another look at Dock Street in the background. This is another West Philadelphia gem. Previously a fire house, they now brew their own beer and serve incredibly unique pizza. Sitting outside at Dock Street on a spring or summer night is one of our favorite ways to go out. As it is just around the corner from us, this is a common happening in our little family.
These places are a small preview of Baltimore Avenue. Many more loved and valued destinations lie there: Vix Emporium, a craft shop full of amazing gifts created by people of Philadelphia; Gold Standard Cafe’, where you can be waited on inside and outside, or sit for coffee with a book or your laptop; Mariposa, the co-op, where you are almost guaranteed to find the freshest possible groceries. West Philadelphia has a charm that I had never experienced, or known to imagine.