I Like To Be Here When I Can


South Street Schuylkill Sunset | Photo: Bradley Maule

South Street Schuylkill Sunset (Click to enlarge) | Photo: Bradley Maule

A new take on an old standard… a last light for a Last Light, if you will. It’s pretty wild to stand on the new South Street Bridge at sunset, gazing out across the Schuylkill River and the construction equipment on its banks, picking up the little new things, like the river trail’s footbridge across the railroad tracks, the massing of 2116 Chestnut, how bright PECO’s LED sign is. And there as ever, from the most spectacular postcard view in town, stands the Philly skyline, bathed in its urban alpenglow.

With the exception of the annual long-weekend visit home, I’ve spent the past three and a half years in Portland, Oregon. It’s a beautiful place, to be sure. The trees are tall, the seafood is sensational, the beer is plentiful. The cars and the bikes coexist in peace. They put birds on things. And while I wouldn’t say that the grass is greener, it’s definitely cheaper.

It’s all very nice in the Northwest, and I really enjoyed my time there. Maybe it just takes me longer for things to sink in, but at a certain point, I realized something was missing. Home is where the heart is, after all, and my heart was longing for a cigar on a bench in Rittenhouse Square. The sound of 45,000 people roaring “CHOOOOOOCH.” The beads of condensation rolling down the side of a Prima Pils when it’s 95 in the shade. That big maple tree on the Belmont Plateau, decked out in its orange fall splendor, the Philly skyline glistening in the distance.

So hey. Nice to see ya, Philly. It’s great to be back. And it’s an honor to be working with a team as dedicated to finding—and understanding—Philadelphia as Hidden City is.

About the author

Bradley Maule is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and the creator of Philly Skyline. He's a native of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and he's hung his hat in Shippensburg, Germantown, G-Ho, Fishtown, Portland OR, Brewerytown, and now Mt. Airy. He just can't get into Twitter, but he's way into Instagram @mauleofamerica.


  1. Street Photographer

    Welcome back Bradley

  2. Dude!
    I wondered on a number of occasions whether that Philly bug gnawed at you on the inside. (I checked out Maule of America every now and then. I’ve been to Portland — nice town, beautiful country — Willamette wine country down to Crater Lake! I thought I could live there if I ever left Philly — but I won’t. It’s just a plane ride away if I need it.

    But cool things are happening here – even the horrendous stuff (public schools forced by Harrisburg to implode)is interesting. Yeah, we never got the ACC or Mandeville Place, or waterfront skyscrapers, and the NIMBYs are still scared of Things That Are Tall. But we are going forward, and it’s good that you’re back and can tilt at these windmills along with the rest of us who love this place.

    Welcome back B-Love!

    A.J. Lee

  3. Miss you on this side of the country, but glad you are back in your happy place! Keep on keepin’ us updated over there in Philly!

  4. I wish I could concur. I lived in Portland for two years prior to moving back to Philadelphia, which is my home town. I continue to miss Portland much more than I missed Philadelphia when I was away. There is much to appreciate about Philadelphia – its unique character, its diverse neighborhoods, its architecture, its history – and admittedly Portland’s downtown, with its mass of concrete parking garages, pales inordinately by comparison. But while there can’t be found an impressive skyline or 45,000 people yelling ‘Chooooch’ in Portland, there also isn’t anything resembling the toxic levels of hostility, ignorance, and mean-spiritedness that exist not just in the city, but pervade the entire surrounding area. I moved back here in 2008 and I still haven’t fully adjusted to the dispiriting lack of civility everywhere, every day. Portland may not be all that impressive as a city per se, but as a place where people know how to live and understand how to be human, it blows Philly right out of the water.

  5. Great to have you back!

  6. Philly is heavy. And angry. And mostly ugly. Don’t disagree with a word of what David said about the place, but I’d still rather be here.

  7. Welcome back Brad. Good to see you landed on HCP, a great site

  8. Street Photographer

    The Pacific Northwest is by far more friendly than the North East period. I’ve lived in Seattle and visit when ever possible.

  9. Harry Kyriakodis

    Good to see that you’re back!

  10. Please remember, Hidden City readers, to be respectful of one another’s ideas and opinions. We don’t appreciate personalizing attacks and we do moderate our comments. –ed.

  11. Such awesome news. Welcome back Bradley. The city just wasn’t the same without you. The void is now filled.

  12. So glad to hear that you’ve come back! It’s rare I find people as loving and enthusiastic about my city as I am… I’m glad to have your voice to help beat back the negativity.

  13. Welcome back. I spent the better part of the past decade out west, myself — Portland and Oakland — and I always told myself I was perfectly willing to stay out there forever… unless! Unless moving here to Philadelphia was an option. Which it became last year, and I jumped right on it. I was born in South Jersey, but grew up in North Jersey. Philadelphia’s always been my favorite city, as far back as I can remember, and next week will be one year since I finally made it here to live.

    I’d say what I miss most about Portland (and to a lesser extent, Oakland) is extreme driver courtesy to pedestrians. Also, permanent food cart pods. We need to get on that here. We certainly have no shortage of vacant and surface parking lots, in the core and elsewhere around the city (hello from Kensington!), that can be made temporarily useful in such a manner these days, after all.

    What I miss most about Oakland is, of course, the weather and its farmers’ markets. I was always amazed at local citrus, olives and almonds. And though I’m a Phillies fan, I’ve always had a weird little inexplicable thing for the A’s as far back as I can recall, too.

    In the end, there’s no other place I’d rather be than here, either…

  14. let’s grab a beer!

  15. Welcome back Brad! The next cycle of growth here is well underway.

  16. BLOVE!!! So glad to hear your back man!!!

  17. Brad…Welcome back, looking forward to reading your work again. I missed Philly Skyline, but wouldn’t have discovered Hidden City otherwise.

  18. This is great news! Welcome back, Mr. Maule!

  19. I check out Maule of America every few months hoping for updates and I remember when Brad first drove cross country (with a National Geographic award winning photograph). The development scene definitely misses Philly Skyline, but I’m glad to see Brad is still swinging by!

  20. From one person who just came back from four years in another city to another, welcome back. That feeling of something missing is powerful, and I feel like there’s something about Philly in particular that people can’t shake. It’s interesting getting the new perspective, and when you come back there are definitely times when you’re like, “This would be so much better if they did it like “. But on the whole it’s amazing to feel back at home, and your time in another city will only help you appreciate it here better.

  21. Great news – made my day to hear that you are back in town.

  22. Very pleased to have you back. Philly Skyline was the main thing that got me from living in a city to loving living in the city. And so much of Skyline’s wish list is within reach: Reading Viaduct, Divine Lorraine, etc. Let’s do it.

  23. BLove! I knew this would happen sooner or later. Few capture this city as well as you do. Welcome back.

  24. So glad you are back in town, Brad!

  25. Welcome back! Great photograph!

  26. B Love! Missed your take on Philly so much! So glad to have you back doing what you do so well. Loving Philly is hard to shake.

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