As we got off the Allegheny Avenue exit to head into Philadelphia, the first display of ethnicity was exposed through one of the many murals that exist on walls in Philly. The mural showed the faces of African American and Asian immigrants of all colors. Besides the colorful walls of Philadelphia, there were also decorative parking garages. On the Pennsylvania Bank walls laid intricate stone sculptures of the working class and varying jobs. There were also beautiful scaffolding images on Independence Hall.
Also at one section of Allegheny Avenue were three beautiful churches that all stood together, one Polish, one Roman Catholic, and one Baptist. Philadelphia’s oldest Episcopal Church is Christ’s Church, and it is also home to Mother Bethel’s Church for African Americans, which was built by a slave. There are not only beautifully-sculptured churches in Philadelphia, but there are also 40 synagogues that are all within walking distance to accompany Jewish people from Russia, Ukraine, etc.
Present day Philadelphia is home to many Hollywood movies, many of them having been shot on Delancey Street. In the past, Philadelphia was where the slave auctions took place, one location lying alongside the Delaware River, about 100 feet away from Franklin Fountain, an outstanding ice cream place.
The beauty of Philadelphia, whether it be displayed through its art, music, etc, can sometimes be a little unanticipated in the eyes of outsiders. On one side of a street can be fanciful-looking homes, and directly across the street can be rundown homes that have foreclosure signs on them.
My favorite part of the ethnic tour was when we spent time at the Italian Market. The streets are filled with vendors selling fresh fish for much cheaper than that of stores, in addition to a number of fruits and vegetables, many of which are sold for $1-$2 a pound. The people are very friendly, which may go against outsiders’ views on Philadelphians. I stopped into one store, called Anthony’s Italian Chocolate and Coffee House, where purchasing a cup of Philadelphia gelato was a must. Although a little pricey, the biscotti flavor mixed with the caramel popcorn flavor was completely worth it.
The one scene that will stick with me over anything else from this trip was that of an African American man that I saw at the Italian Market. He was walking with a shopping cart that held an old boom box in it. This was not the first time I’ve seen something like this in Philadelphia. It was then that I realized that not everyone has the luxury of driving in a car with a $200 stereo system installed in it. Sometimes, the only wheels that one has are those of a shopping cart used to hold his/her belongings, and an outdated boom box to help him/her get by.