When you think of America’s “most glamorous cities,” Philadelphia might not be in the top 5 — but are we really less glamorous than. . . Cleveland?
That is not my opinion, I get it from an online outfit called LawnStarter which does a lot of this kind of pop “research.”
Mostly I ignore these kinds of bullbleep findings, usually done by magazines, usually aimed at increasing circulation.
LawnStarter is a little better than average because it does provide its methodology, the characteristics it studied to come to its conclusion.
Spoiler Alert: Philadelphia finished 23rd. Cleveland finished 16th.
Ever been to Cleveland? It’s the 53rd largest U.S. city, it has (somehow) the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and used to have LeBron James, and Halle Berry, not to mention a river that caught fire — more than once.
But knocking Cleveland doesn’t build up Philly.
Some of the criteria used by LawnStarter were Michelin-starred restaurants, country clubs, Fashion Week events, personal wealth, 5-star hotels, arts/entertainment/recreation. LawnStarter also tells you what sources it used.
And Cleveland beat us?
I hate to keep dwelling on this, but have you ever been to Cleveland? I have — once, in the ‘80s. I was there on a press junket and stayed at the massive Hotel Willard, which I think was named for a rat.
With the other journalists, I hung out in the Flats, on the bank of the Cuyahoga River, known for its nightlife, with edgy bars and clubs hosting live music, comedy and drag shows.
Ranked #1 is Miami, and I think that makes sense, especially if you are thinking of Miami Beach.
New York finishes second, followed by San Francisco, Las Vegas and Atlanta, that finishes before L.A., which is questionable.
Not to pick on Cleveland, but I dug into the scores and came away scratching my head.
Under dining and drinking, Cleveland scored a 10, compared with Philly’s tragic 45. What?! Almost every legitimate news source lists Philly as an outstanding foodie town. This ranking is insane.
Under arts and entertainment, Cleveland rates a 13 to Philly’s 12. I mentioned the Flats, and Cleveland does have a symphony orchestra, like it has a baseball team 🙂, but Philly has the world-famous Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philly Pops, the ballet, and a ton of music venues (when there is no plague). Yes, maybe the term “rock ‘n’ roll” was invented there, but the early roots of rock are found in Philly doo-wop, and then Gamble & Huff’s The Sound of Philadelphia. Cleveland should not even be close.
The beauty, fashion and shopping rank for Cleveland is 13, just behind Philly’s 12. (Cleveland did have America’s first indoor mall.)
How Cleveland gets a 15 for wealth and success while Philly gets a 21 is a mystery. Maybe they didn’t count the Main Line as part of Philadelphia, nor did they count our universities and hospitals.
Anyway, it’s not to be taken seriously, but I can’t dispute Philly lacks glitz and flash.
Some might say the roots of this are found in our modest Quaker heritage, but, really, I think there are only three Quakers left, and I don’t see them as, um, influencers of our zeitgeist.
Philadelphians seem to have an aversion to bragging, just the opposite of, say, New Yorkers, and Texans.
I was interviewing a Philly club owner who had put a ton of money into rehabbing a bank into a night club. During a pre-opening tour, he showed me the crystal chandeliers he had bought, the marble bars, the parquet floors, the imported wallpaper.
I admired what he had done and asked how much he had spent.
“I don’t want to say,” he said. “It would seem like bragging.”
I told him if we were in New York, not only would he tell me, but he would lie by a factor of three.
I finally wheedled him to tell me he had spent “more than six figures.”
I told him he got his money’s worth.
This might be another way of saying Philadelphia lacks “showmen,” which I realize is gender specific, but screw it.
Among local politicians, Ed Rendell was a showman, a mayor who bragged about his city and pushed it relentlessly. I can’t think of another in his class, but Frank Rizzo was another mayor with unabashed pride in the city of his birth.
On City Council, the late Thacher Longstreth was an unapologetic cheerleader for the city. I might be overlooking someone.
In the world of entertainment, Kevin Bacon always touts his hometown, and involves himself in local causes. So does Henri David. Almost all the old-time acts that came out of Philadelphia talked up the town, with the notable, and funny, exception of W.C. Fields.
It’s funny. A lot of national magazines have Philly as a top destination, despite our admitted lack of flash.
Maybe LawnStarter doesn’t read them.