For the inhabitants of the East Coast when we think of the major cities we tend to think of Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Miami, Baltimore and Washington D.C. Scattered all up and down the coast, some too far North and maybe other too far South, the most central and most accessible of all of the East Coast’s cities are Philadelphia and New York City.
For those who travel into the city, it’s for the big lights, theatre, restaurant selection and shopping. Of course everyone is going to be partial, but people who come from farther away consider New York to be the ultimate city destination that they must visit, while the locals tend to flock to Philadelphia away from the crowds of tourists. So how do you choose? Two major cities at the heart of the East Coast, both quite similar, yet drastically different- do you spend the money on the train ride through the Lincoln Tunnel, or do you opt for the train ride into the city of brotherly love? Whether your heart belongs solely to NYC or Philly or you’re madly in love with both, consider this your guide to the best of what each city has to offer, and decide for yourself.
Counter vs. Food Truck
With a cuisine unique and to each its own, it only makes sense that these two cities have their own way of approaching the ‘fast food services,’ making lunch hour a breeze with food trucks and walk up counters. While indulging in the four-star fine dining that the cities have to offer is great, with the hustle and bustle pace of the city, there’s not always time to sit down for a 3-course meal. This is why gourmet food trucks are the “New Yorker” way to dine at lunchtime. When people see them coming they chase these trucks down like kids flagging down the ice cream man, and lines tend to build up quickly. Gourmet food carts are now the ‘hot’ new and inexpensive way to grab lunch in NYC. Scattered variously around the city, these trucks provide top-notch cuisine from all over the world, ranging from gourmet-grilled cheese all the way to escargot lollipops. On the other side of the spectrum Philly handles a lunch and dinner crowd similarly by serving up the food that the city made famous. Pat’s, Geno’s, Tony-Luke’s and Jim’s cheesesteaks – the battle rages on. With a colossal sandwich menu, that’s equally messy, these standing, order-in counter style joints leave people to inhale their sandwiches sitting on the stoop, or even just hunched over and standing, to avoid any drip-age, in true Philly style.
Winner: New York City
This is completely a matter of personal preference that comes down to classy versus classic. While Philly offers one item that has been perfected to an art, I’ve got to give it to New York. In NYC you can get the best of any cuisine, some of which you may never have been able to experience unless at a fine dinning restaurant, at half the price.
Walnut Street vs. Soho
For those who go into the city specifically to do some down and dirty shopping, it’s not likely that they’ll want to visit a section where they find the same stores they can find in their local mall. When I come to the city I don’t want to visit a five-story Abercrombie and Fitch or the enormous Forever 21 where I can find the same items at in my local mall. Like most looking for something off the grid, I head to the spots that can offer small chain unique vintage stores and boutiques. Walnut Street, located right in Center City is always my main shopping destination when I come to Philly. They have some major chain stores that will satisfy those seeking to stick to what they know and also many quaint individualized stores. The selection of stores definitely caters to the ‘city style’ dresser, but there is something for everyone. New York City shopping is a little bit different; unlike Philly, you can go almost anywhere and find somewhere to shop. I like to head downtown away from the long lines and tourists and shop around in Soho, an artsy neighborhood that holds some of the best vintage boutiques in NYC.
Winner: New York City
When it comes down to Soho you get the best of art and fashion combined. The artsy vibe and unique boutiques make Soho the place to go if you want fashion great finds on a low budget.
South Street vs. Canal Street
If upscale or mainstream shopping isn’t your scene, South Street in Philly and Canal Street in NYC are bargain, kitsch, knock-off hot spots where shop owners and vendors come to sell. Both locations have an urban feel and definitely cater to a certain style. South Street consists mainly of shops rather then booths and tables like Canal Street. South Street has more of a nightlife scene with some bars and nightclubs as well as shopping, but Canal Street is strictly for the bargain, designer knock off buying.
Beautiful murals, and rich culture make South Street the winner over the crap that clutters Canal Street. Knock-offs (while sometimes scarily realistic and cheap) are tacky, a complete rip off that discredits the designer, and not to mention, ILLEGAL.
Love Park vs. Bryant Park
All right, so maybe this isn’t the most even match up but each of these parks are commonly associated with their city. I wouldn’t really classify either as a ‘park’ the way we suburbanites would think of a park, but each has their own qualities that set them apart. Love Park is more of an industrial center that focuses around the “LOVE” statue to which the park received its name. Sure, Love Park hosts various fairs and festivals in its center, but Bryant Park reigns supreme when it comes to hosting the mecca of all events, New York Fashion Week. The white tents go up as each fashion season rolls around, patrons are able to walk around on the small amount of grass any one city has to offer, and even go ice-skating in the winter.
Winner: New York City
Providing fertile grass, winter activities and serving as the center for New York Fashion, Bryant Park hands down wins over the concrete playground, lacking little to no park-like qualities, which Philadelphia calls their own.
Whether it’s NYC or Philly each city provides the best in food, culture and entertainment for the East Coast. Similar, yet each miles apart in their differences, literally, it’s up to you which you choose to favor and explore; or why not just see both?