Convention in Philly, Cradle of Liberty As seen in its skyline, this year’s convention city offers both nation-shaping history and modern shopping, dining and culture. Features
Features  |   August 01, 2016
Convention in Philly, Cradle of Liberty
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Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Features
Features   |   August 01, 2016
Convention in Philly, Cradle of Liberty
The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 44-49. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR1.21082016.44
The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 44-49. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR1.21082016.44
Say “Philadelphia” and most people likely think cheesesteaks, the Eagles and the Liberty Bell. But there’s much more to the country’s fifth-largest city, home to this year’s ASHA Convention. Besides its heritage as the Cradle of Liberty, the city presents a thriving food, arts and culture scene.
Earlier this year, travel publishing company Lonely Planet named Philadelphia the No. 1 place to visit in the United States, citing the city’s simultaneous offerings of culture, history, affordability and grit.
The ASHA Convention follows several big events recently hosted in Philadelphia, including Pope Francis’ visit during the World Meeting of Families in September 2015 and the Democratic National Convention in July. Though Philly’s many neighborhoods are distinct, they are easily traversed and connected by public transportation offered by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, as well as by foot or the city’s bike-share program, Indego.
Just as William Penn peeks through the city’s shiny new skyscrapers from atop the Philadelphia City Hall, the city’s sights and sounds encapsulate both old and new.
The historical
It might feel like something’s missing to visit Philadelphia and not take a trip to the Independence National Historical Park, home to attractions like Independence Hall—site of the adoption of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution—and the Liberty Bell, which previously hung in Independence Hall and symbolizes American independence from Britain.
But if a past family vacation or school field trip has already yielded the opportunity to see these relics, you might instead consider a trip to the National Constitution Center (525 Arch St.) in Old City Philadelphia. The attraction hosts interactive exhibits on the meaning of the Constitution. You can also walk the streets of the upscale Rittenhouse Square, originally one of five city parks planned by William Penn, or visit Betsy Ross House, the birthplace of the American flag.
The juxtaposition of the new and the old can be found throughout Philly’s most historical neighborhood. The original City Tavern (138 S. Second St.) opened for business in 1773, and was an unofficial meeting place of the delegates of the first Continental Congress. Now, servers in period dress serve up 18th century–style gourmet cuisine in a historically accurate replica of the original tavern, which was badly damaged by fire. In the same neighborhood as this piece of history, you can sample new and hip bars, restaurants and shops.
The cultural
What visitor to Philadelphia can resist running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway)—just like Rocky? Once you’ve done it, take in the breathtaking view of the city from the top, then go inside to explore the more than 227,000 objects, as well as special exhibitions on painted furniture and Mexican Modernist paintings on display during convention.
Just down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (at 2025) is the newer The Barnes Foundation and the many pleasures of its hyper-curated collection. Originally the private collection of chemist Albert C. Barnes, The Barnes boasts fine collections of post-impressionist and early modern paintings, as well as everything from Mediterranean and Asian antiques to Native American jewelry and ceramics.
For sights less aesthetically pleasing but no less fascinating, head to the Mutter Museum (19 S. 22nd St.) of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Established as a museum of medical history to aid public understanding of the mysteries and beauty of the human body, visitors can view the Mutter Museum’s collection of anatomical specimens, models and medical instruments.
Another main attraction for science lovers, Franklin Institute (271 N. 21st St.) is one of the oldest centers of science education in the country. The institute will be running a Google-supported special robot exhibition during convention time.
Those with literary interests may be surprised to learn that Edgar Allan Poe spent six of his happiest and most productive writing years in Philadelphia. Visitors to the three-story Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site (532 N. 7th St.)—the only of his many Philadelphia residences that still survives—can learn more about Poe’s writings and lifestyle, as well as venture into the basement that may have inspired “The Black Cat.”
And for those looking to experience something both cultural and uniquely Philadelphian, a trip to the Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (1020 South St.) is a must. This immersive outdoor art installation features the work of Isaiah Zagar, who creates mosaics from nontraditional materials such as folk art statues, found objects, bicycle wheels, colorful glass bottles, handmade tiles and glittering mirrors.
The culinary
When all that art and culture makes you hungry, don’t forget to stop in at America’s oldest food market and Philadelphia’s most visited attraction: Reading Terminal Market (12th and Arch streets). With more than 80 vendors, there is something for everyone, though a roast pork sandwich from Dinic’s is not to be missed. After all, it was named the Travel Channel’s “Best Sandwich in America.”
Ranked (by Thrillist) as a top-10 food city in the country, Philly provides the gamut of gastronomic options, from fine dining to casual bar food. So, sure, start with a cheesesteak (see sidebar below), but don’t stop there.

When all the art and culture make you hungry, stop in at America’s oldest food market and Philadelphia’s most visited attraction: Reading Terminal Market.

With a total of 19 locations throughout the city, it’s hard to visit Philly and not end up eating at a Stephen Starr restaurant. Tourists and locals alike go crazy for the modern Asian cuisine at Buddakan (325 Chestnut St.), the authentic Mexican at El Rey (2013 Chestnut St.), the British pub fare at The Dandelion (18th and Sansom streets), the rooftop bar at Continental Mid-Town (1801 Chestnut St.), the stellar barbeque at Fette Sau (1208 Frankford Ave.) and the beer garden right next door at Frankford Hall (1210 Frankford Ave.).
Rivaling its New York and San Francisco counterparts, Philadelphia’s Chinatown offers a wealth of great food and fun. Walk right through the “Friendship Gate” at 10th and Arch streets for dozens of restaurants serving East Asian cuisines, as well as Cantonese, Fujianese and Sichuan. A local favorite? Dim Sum Garden (1020 Race St.) and its to-die-for soup dumplings.
Looking for upscale eateries? Try:
  • Laurel (1617 E. Passyunk Ave.)—French-inspired New American cuisine, named the best restaurant in Philadelphia for 2016 by Philadelphia magazine.

  • Vedge (1221 Locust St.)—The No. 1 restaurant in Philadelphia rated by Zagat, serving inventive, deeply satisfying vegetarian food.

  • Zahav (237 St. James Place)—Fine modern Israeli.

  • Vetri (1312 Spruce St.)—Old-school Italian classics, often with a twist.

  • Amada (217-219 Chestnut St.)—A self-proclaimed “authentic taste of Andalucía.”

If you’d rather do casual, try:
  • Federal Donuts (multiple locations)—Delicious donuts and the best fried chicken in the city, under one roof.

  • John’s Roast Pork (14 E. Snyder Ave.)—Another one of the city’s best sandwiches in the most unassuming of locations.

  • Monk’s Café (264 S. 16th St.)—Unrivaled Belgian beer, mussels and mains.

  • Cheu Noodle Bar (255 S. 10th St.)—Hip ramen and other must-try Asian fare.

The zoo and the new
Kids joining you at convention? Across the Schuylkill River in West Philadelphia, find family fun at the Philadelphia Zoo (3400 W. Girard Ave.). The first zoo in the United States, this 42-acre garden is home to more than 1,300 animals.

Visit Macy’s in Center City and check out the Wanamaker Organ, the world’s largest operative pipe organ.

Another family-friendly attraction is the Waterfront along the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers. Though it’s not wise to test the waters (especially in November), the city’s riverbanks are worth exploring. Take a walk up the Schuylkill River Trail to see the famous Boathouse Row, or stroll along the Delaware for the Independence Seaport Museum, have dinner or drinks aboard the Moshulu, or enjoy a picture-perfect moment on the Race Street Pier.
Finally, don’t forget to indulge in tax-free clothing and shoes at a number of retail destinations throughout the city, including Shops at Liberty Place and Shops at the Bellevue, or even take in a bit more history by visiting Macy’s in the historic Wanamaker Building (1300 Market St.). While there, check out the Wanamaker Organ—the world’s largest operative pipe organ—housed in a central atrium called the Grand Court. The organ is played at midday and early evenings.
If vintage is more your speed, check out Jinxed—a chain of five vintage clothing, accessories and furniture stores. And be sure to visit South Street, one of Philadelphia’s most famous, eclectic and lively streets with more than 400 shops, restaurants and entertainment. Just stroll along and enjoy the street’s many sights and sounds.
Most Important, Where Do I Get My Cheesesteak?

Hey audiologists and speech-language pathologists—looking for a real Philly cheesesteak? Check out the corner at 1237 East Passyunk Ave.

There you’ll find Philadelphia’s best-known producers of the city’s famed steak-and-cheese sandwich: Geno’s and Pat’s King of Steaks. My personal favorite? Pat’s. Order “wit” or “wit-out” onions, choose Cheez Whiz, provolone or American cheese, and head to the second window for fries and drinks. Be sure to bring cash only!

Across the street is rival Geno’s. Put your tastebuds to the test and try both venues. Decide for yourself which is better.

If a cheesesteak isn’t your thing, be sure to try a cold hoagie. (Yes, in Philly it’s a hoagie, not a sub.) Head to Cosmi’s Deli (5101 South 8th St.), and try one loaded with fresh-sliced meats and cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and condiments of your choice. It’s all about the fresh Italian roll.

And don’t forget to grab an official Philadelphia soft pretzel at the Philly Pretzel Factory (multiple locations) or pretty much every other street corner. It’s been said that pretzels are to Philly as crepes are to Paris. What’s different about a Philly pretzel? They’re shaped like a figure-eight, instead of in the traditional loops. And they’re chewy, not crunchy. As for how they taste—well, you’ll just have to try one for yourself.

—Tara L. Fuchs, AuD, is an audiologist in East Windsor, New Jersey.

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August 2016
Volume 21, Issue 8