Starting Tomorrow, We’re Making Our Point


Map of Hidden City Festival sites | Googlemaps

Map of Hidden City Festival sites | Googlemaps

For reasons of time and sanity, as last weekend wore on through baseball games (little league and professional), street fairs, theater, and our Hidden City Festival opening reception, I ditched SEPTA and started taking taxis. Beyond the disheartening cost of a taxi ride (on Sunday, by the time my driver had circled west around 30th Street Station only to head east, the meter had hit $5), taxi rides force me to confront that old, but painfully enduring vision of Philadelphia as rinky dink town. This is all the fault of the map that’s affixed to the back of the front seats, facing the passenger (and next to the useless television screen) that shows only the most diminutive idea of Philadelphia barely beyond William Penn’s original grid–only about 1.5 percent of the actual Philadelphia.

Whatever the reason the PPA has chosen this laughably shrunken cartoon vision of the city that leaves out just about everything that is wonderful and interesting and practical, it’s based on faulty assumption and error: that most cab riders are skittish tourists afraid to cross the simplified borders of Center City and that the Philadelphia residents from all corners of the city who are most of the riders wouldn’t benefit by a real map that helps them navigate their very large and sometimes confusing city.

I can’t think of another large, complicated, sprawling city that seeks to infantilize itself in this way. We appear afraid of our own shadow.

And this is a central point of the Hidden City Festival: to broaden our concept of the city and expand the way we experience it; to draw us out of our own neighborhoods and onto someone else’s streets; to remind us just how large and complex a place this really is. This is something we try to do every day in our coverage on the Hidden City Daily, but reading about different places isn’t enough: we must get out there and immerse ourselves in the endless city. But only go by taxi if you have to.

For complete information on the nine Hidden City Festival sites and art projects, hours, and ticketing, click HERE.

About the author

Nathaniel Popkin is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and author of three books of non-fiction, including the forthcoming Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City (Temple Press) and a novel, Lion and Leopard (The Head and the Hand Press). He is the senior writer of the film documentary "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment."

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
With A Little Help From Frank Furness, We Evaluate 10 New Projects

With A Little Help From Frank Furness, We Evaluate 10 New Projects

June 23, 2017  |  Vantage

Hidden City architecture critic Jason Lempieri summons the spirit of Frank Furness in this appraisal of Philly's newest urban forms > more

Row House: Past And Its Future

Row House: Past And Its Future

June 20, 2017  |  Vantage

Contributor Hilary Jay dives deep into the evolution and politics of contemporary row house design with Interface Studio Architects > more

An Artful Adaptation In Bella Vista

An Artful Adaptation In Bella Vista

June 15, 2017  |  News

A contemporary art gallery and residence on Bainbridge Street goes green with reuse and sustainable renovation. John Henry Scott has the story > more

Behind The Bar At Dirty Frank's

Behind The Bar At Dirty Frank’s

June 13, 2017  |  The Shadow Knows

The Shadow saddles up to the bar at Dirty Frank's with the backstory on one of Philadelphia's most beloved dives > more

With New Penn's Landing Plan, A Central Park

With New Penn’s Landing Plan, A Central Park

June 12, 2017  |  News

Lost in the intense news cycle: major news about the at-long-last redevelopment of Penn's Landing. Nathaniel Popkin has a look > more

With Bloomsday Near, Remembering The Rosenbach Brothers

With Bloomsday Near, Remembering The Rosenbach Brothers

June 9, 2017  |  Vantage

Every year in June a crowd gathers outside of the Rosenbach Museum & Library to celebrate James Joyce's seminal literary masterpiece "Ulysses" with a block party and day full of public readings. Karen Chernick gives us the backstory on the Rosenbach Company and two rare book dealers whose legacy is enshrined on Delancey Place > more