Now before you go all Clubber Lang on me, you should know that I am not one of those Philadelphians who has an inferiority complex about this city. Quite the contrary. I love Philadelphia, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. That said, our neighbor to the north does have (at least) a few things going for it that would make Philadelphia an even better place to be. Here, my wish list.
1. $33 Full Body Massages
No, that’s not a misprint. Last weekend in Greenwich Village, I happened upon a place called 88 Qi Gong Tui Na, a long narrow room containing a row of massage beds separated by curtains. And if you’re thinking that there’s hanky-panky going on inside, there’s not. Just a bunch of chatty Chinese women rubbing the heck out of your naked body (whether male or female) for $33 for 45 minutes. (Note that if you try to leave an even $40, your masseuse will request a few more bucks on the tip. Still, a serious, no-frills massage at a great price.) Why this doesn’t exist in Philly, I have no idea.
2. Less Murder
Although New York may seem like a ferociously violent place on Law & Order reruns, the truth is that the city saw 414 murders in 2012, the fewest in 40 years. That’s a murder rate of 3.8 per 100,000 residents. Last year in Philadelphia, there were 334 murders, a murder rate of 21.4 per 100,000 residents.
3. and 4. A Downtown Cineplex + A Repertory Cinema
New York has many examples. I’ll settle for one of each.
5. Luxury Fashion
Feel free to classify this under Rich People Problems, but compared to New York, the luxury shopping scene in Philadelphia is pathetic. We could at least shoot for “lacking.” But since I know virtually nothing about fashion, I asked lovely Philadelphia magazine fashion editrix Emily Goulet to explain in her own words:
Most of our high-end designer boutiques are centralized in King of Prussia—Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton. What high-end designers we do have are peppered among our top boutiques, rather than in the freestanding/flagship stores you’ll have in New York, like Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Vera Wang, Valentino, Donna Karan, Alexander Wang, and so on.
The arrival of Intermix, a trendy boutique with an assortment of high-end and emerging designers, is a great addition to Walnut; another great get would be a shop like Opening Ceremony. But we still lack the prominent designer outposts you’ll find in cities like New York, L.A., Chicago, and even Boston.
What we do have is a terrific assortment of indie boutiques, each with their own carefully culled mix of lines. But it still seems the prospect of having something like a Chanel brick-and-mortar on Walnut is far off.
6. Liquor Home Delivery
Yes, this is actually a thing in New York. I’m thinking someone’s head just exploded at the PLCB.
7. Free Museum Nights
New York’s prestigious Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is free every Friday night thanks to a partnership with Target. How about Xfinity Saturdays at the PMA?
8. Public Displays of Affection
Last weekend, I lost count at the number of people kissing, embracing and downright making out in Manhattan—two couples in one Duane Reade alone. You almost never see that in Philadelphia. Pucker up, people.
9. All-Night Dining
Here, we’ve got Little Pete’s and not much else. On one weekend in Manhattan, I visited a 24-hour pho restaurant (with beer!) and scarfed down a falafel at 4:30 a.m. I’m looking at you, Benny Lai and Mama’s.
10: Late-Night Public Transit
Not that you’d necessarily want to ride public transit in New York at 4 a.m., but the option is there, because the city’s buses and subways operate on 24-hour schedules throughout the five boroughs. Meanwhile, if you’re trying to get from Center City to Ambler after dinner and dancing this Saturday night, don’t dillydally: The last train leaves 30th Street Station at 11:11 p.m. On a Saturday.
11. A Decent Basketball Team
Because, really, Sixers. You’re going to force us to go to Wings lacrosse games.
12. The High Line
New York’s world-renowned “park in the sky” is (still) all the rage four years after its debut. Hopefully, the proposed Philadelphia equivalent, known as the Reading Viaduct Elevated Park, does not go the way of the waterfront, DisneyQuest, and Robert Redford’s Sundance Cinema. Remember those?