Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Philadelphia Outdoorsiness

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    10

    Philadelphia Outdoorsiness

    I am thinking about moving to Philadelphia from Austin, and am curious as to how well outdoor recreation has been integrated into the infrastructure in Philly. Here in Austin, we have hike-and-bike trails and great places to swim (Barton Springs) right in the middle of downtown, but the built environment is downright depressing and it's not at all what I would expect from a "real" city. Anything in Philadelphia? I noticed its presence on several "fattest cities" lists, so I'm not expecting much.

  2. #2
    Check out the Fairmount Park Commission website. They maintain the parks in the city, including Fairmount Park, which is pretty huge (claims to be the "biggest urban park in the US," although this is contended by other cities too) and it's walking distance from the Fairmount neighborhood, or a good brisk hike from Center City. It's popular with joggers and bikers.

    Some neighborhoods have a small park with a baseball diamond, basketball court, or rec center (sometimes with a poorly-maintained pool) somewhere, and the more gentrified ones are getting "dog runs" as fast as you can say yuppie. Of course the most exclusive neighborhoods in Center City are situated around the original public squares... thus Rittenhouse Square.

  3. #3

    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale
    Posts
    50
    Well, there is no doubt that Philly is a "real" city. There are many things in progress, such as bike trails. For the most part, you will have to adjust to living in a big city, sharing lanes with cars is ruthless here. I love it. Its not a casual ride. Its a race! But it is flat and there are lots of beautiful places to rest. The life in the city is great and I'm sure you'll love it. Welcome to the North East

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    1,472
    The main, off road, bike trails are the Schuylkill Valley Trail which runs from South Street in center city north, past the art museum, through Manayunk, and all the way out to Valley Forge. Out around Norristown there it splits into several branches. There's a well developed network in Montgomery County that is all connected so from South St. you could probably ride for 50 or 60 miles on a paved trail. I used to take the train out to Norristown and ride back. It's 20 miles or so.

    The Schuylkill trail network gets longer every month and the Montgomery trail system, which is all connected, is already huge and growing. It's also getting pretty big in Bucks and Chester Counties. The center city and south philly portion will be part of the East Coast Greenway. The rest of the greenway will run along the Delaware River and into New Jersey. Most of the NJ part of the trail is already finished.

    Speaking of NJ, you can ride over the Ben Franklin and out on a paved trail about 8 miles into the suburbs (that route is about 90% off road). You can also take the train out and ride back.

    There are also a lot of off-road trails in the city and the suburbs and a lot of them are connected to the greater network. The Wissahickon trail is probably my favorite. I still take the train up to Chestnut Hill and ride back via the Wissahickon and Schuylkill Valley trail. There's also an off road trail in Tacony Park and Pennypack Park (the western portion i hear is heavily used by mountain bikers and you now have to get a permit ($10) to ride there.

    You can check it all out for yourself here. If you're an avid cyclist and/or plan to make the most of the transit system here i would say get both maps.

    http://www.bikemap.com

  5. #5
    Cyburbian bocian's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Raleigh NC
    Posts
    212
    Don't expect much in terms of little neighborhood parks though -- there aren't many good ones here.

  6. #6

    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale
    Posts
    50
    Outdoorsiness has a different meaning in a big city for me. In smaller cities, I found you must do things to include excercise in your daily routine. Life in a big city, I found, I was constantly walking. Constantly outside. This is, of course, if you live near your job, and in Center City. I had more excercise when I lived in Manhattan than any place I ever lived. Just your daily routine includes more excercise and outdoorsiness than most people get all day. Park your car and leave it. You won't have to make a special time to be outside.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    10
    Thanks for your answer, Urbani, but the main reason I am asking is because I enjoy the serenity and beauty of nature. The reason I asked is not to find out if I will be getting enough exercise but if there are ample opportunities to "get away." I know that there are some great places right off the subway to do this in NYC (Inwood Hill Park, for one) and I was hoping this was the case in Philly, too.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    1,472
    Fairmount Park is pretty damn big. The Wissahickon trail/Forbidden Dr. is about as outdoorsy as you can get in a big city. It's certainly bigger and more secluded than anything in NYC. The Pine Barrens is a million acre park that starts 15 miles east of Philly and is easily accessible by train.

    If you're looking for more green in your life when you move here avoid south philly.
    stick with west philly, east falls, mt. airy/germantown. Even the northwestern edge of center city is leafy and close enough to the park.

    to get back to your initial question - kids do swim in the wissahickon during the summer but i wouldn't. storm surges always find their way to local creeks, especially one in a deep ravine like the Wiss. If it hadn't rained for a few days maybe i'd go in. The ocean is a $6 train ride away, the pine barrens are $4 away. Both are much better outdoor places to swim - but if you go swimming in the pines be prepared to have everything you go in with stained the color of tea. It's the pine needles.

    The Delaware River and its tributaries north of trenton are usually clean and fun. Especially north and west of Allentown (on the NJ side too) there are plenty of great spots - Jim Thorpe, PA being one of them.

    As far as this being a "fat city", i guess. I mean we have great beer and better food. If you're not out enjoying it you're not enjoying the city. Cycling and walking are also huge here. This is my fourth summer in the city and every spring there are more bikes than the year before and every winter there are more people toughing it out and staying on two wheels through everything but snow. It's not for leisure. It's how people get around here.

    Obesity here isn't different from anywhere else - there's a strong correlation between education/income and diet/exercise. Where there's a lack of the former there's normally a lack of the latter.
    Last edited by jresta; 14 Mar 2006 at 2:56 AM.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Encroaching on something
    Posts
    2,744
    When I was living in the Philly area, I got out a lot more to all of the parks than I did/do living in FL. I found that a lot of people were very active in the Philly area. I always walked and ran around Valley Forge.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Philadelphia/Brooklyn
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally posted by bocian
    Don't expect much in terms of little neighborhood parks though -- there aren't many good ones here.
    Actually there are plenty. As a matter of fact, there is one a few blocks from my house. people walking their dogs, reading the paper, etc.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian bocian's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Raleigh NC
    Posts
    212
    Quote Originally posted by *sweetkisses*
    Actually there are plenty. As a matter of fact, there is one a few blocks from my house. people walking their dogs, reading the paper, etc.
    Well, I live in North Philly and am yet to discover a park within a walking distance to my rowhouse... When I lived in South Philly there was not one anywhere close to my house either... I think this city truly sucks when it comes to provision of parks or any type of green space (includign street trees). On a somewhat related note,this city has got to be the worst run city in this nation. A council member is convinced of bribery and still gets to get paid and stay on the job until he's "sentenced."

    So I get a "warning" for not recycling (I used to recycle until someone stole my recycling bin -- TWICE) a few weeks back, right after the New York Times published a report about Philly lagging among the U.S. large cities in its recycling efforts...

    Yuppies that planners cater to get new housing on the waterfront, utility lines buried underground, and 10-years tax abatement while in neighborhoods like mine sidewalks are all cracked and broken, there is approximately 1 tree per city block (at best), utility cables hang on poles near extinction of their useful life (but nobody cares), and taxes for crappy rowhouses are on the rise... the same taxes paying salaries of corrupted municipal workers, including city council members + planners...

    Yeah, I'm quite angry with how this city is run... I guess I'll go to for a walk to a park... oh, wait, there isn't one neraby - -nevermind!

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Philadelphia/Brooklyn
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally posted by bocian
    Well, I live in North Philly and am yet to discover a park within a walking distance to my rowhouse... When I lived in South Philly there was not one anywhere close to my house either... I think this city truly sucks when it comes to provision of parks or any type of green space (includign street trees). On a somewhat related note,this city has got to be the worst run city in this nation. A council member is convinced of bribery and still gets to get paid and stay on the job until he's "sentenced."

    So I get a "warning" for not recycling (I used to recycle until someone stole my recycling bin -- TWICE) a few weeks back, right after the New York Times published a report about Philly lagging among the U.S. large cities in its recycling efforts...

    Yuppies that planners cater to get new housing on the waterfront, utility lines buried underground, and 10-years tax abatement while in neighborhoods like mine sidewalks are all cracked and broken, there is approximately 1 tree per city block (at best), utility cables hang on poles near extinction of their useful life (but nobody cares), and taxes for crappy rowhouses are on the rise... the same taxes paying salaries of corrupted municipal workers, including city council members + planners...

    Yeah, I'm quite angry with how this city is run... I guess I'll go to for a walk to a park... oh, wait, there isn't one neraby - -nevermind!
    Well again, it depends on where you live in the city.. I cant say I really share the same views because I live in the northwest where there are plenty of trees, parks, and the like.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by bocian
    Yuppies that planners cater to get new housing on the waterfront, utility lines buried underground, and 10-years tax abatement while in neighborhoods like mine sidewalks are all cracked and broken, there is approximately 1 tree per city block (at best), utility cables hang on poles near extinction of their useful life (but nobody cares), and taxes for crappy rowhouses are on the rise... the same taxes paying salaries of corrupted municipal workers, including city council members + planners...
    Isn't the 10 year tax abatement citywide? The private sector, the developers putting up new construction for yuppies around Center City, ignores the ghetto because they're profit-driven by default. I think your frustration is a tad misdirected. The City Planning Commision doesn't seem to have much pull in what actually goes on, as far as I know.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian bocian's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Raleigh NC
    Posts
    212
    Quote Originally posted by passdoubt
    Isn't the 10 year tax abatement citywide? The private sector, the developers putting up new construction for yuppies around Center City, ignores the ghetto because they're profit-driven by default. I think your frustration is a tad misdirected. The City Planning Commision doesn't seem to have much pull in what actually goes on, as far as I know.
    Perhaps.

    On the other hand, almost everyday I am AMAZED that parts of this city in supposedly the richest country in the world actually look like this (it makes me so sad and angry): I have been to some of the most depressed areas in Eastern Europe and South/Central America and have never seen anything like it -- yes, perhaps planners are not the ones to blame since they have no implementing powers anyhow, but I'm not about to praise our mostly business-as-usual tactics and lack of vision either... Plus they largely have made true urbanism illegal through insane standards and codes. Some of us have started to wonder what the hell is going on, but most of us are still unaware of what we have done, especially if we get around by driving. In my view, if you don't experience your community by means of walking, you should never aim to "plan" it/ for it. Walkability is the key.
    We are ALL responsible for what has happened to American "cities": with decades of anti-urbanism and pro-suburbia mindset, planners are only a reflection of the society at large. Plan crap. construct crap, live like crap, crap entering, crap exiting. Disposable landscapes, nothing to be proud of, "This is America..." Sorry for the rant..

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Greetings from Philadelphia
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 02 Nov 2008, 7:51 PM
  2. Greetings from Philadelphia
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 14
    Last post: 28 Dec 2007, 3:56 PM
  3. Greetings from Philadelphia, PA
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 12
    Last post: 29 Aug 2007, 12:51 AM
  4. Greetings from Philadelphia
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 10
    Last post: 09 Aug 2006, 5:21 PM
  5. Hello from Philadelphia
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 13
    Last post: 06 Sep 2005, 6:34 AM