The Nineteenth One – Philadelphia

Recently I traveled to Philadelphia to reunite with two of my best friends. The nostalgia was comfortably overwhelming as I had lived in Philly for three years in three completely different neighborhoods so I knew the city like the back of my hand. I will forever hold this city close to my heart; it is the first place I moved to out of my parents house, it is where I gained experience as a waitress and made more money than I ever thought which led me to accomplish so many amazing things. It is where I turned 21 and had the typical “time of my life” furthermore having some of the worst times. It is where I gained friendships that are irreplaceable.

First of all, every place has its pros and cons. Literally, every place. Small towns, big cities, you name it.

So then, why did I leave?

  1. Garbage. Everywhere.
  2. Being catcalled more in my life than any place I have traveled thus far. This happened so often (to myself and hearing stories of others) to the point where men would drive along side of me biking for blocks until the sweet release when they drove away. Because when a woman ignores a man (who is hitting on them in a similar suave manner of course) we are always “a bitch” when not reciprocal. Alright great, peace out!
  3. Not enough mountains or lush forests for me. I didn’t have a car for most of my residency, and I worked almost every day, so I had to settle from bouncing around from park to park. I never forgot how much I loved nature, I was accepting and excited for the change of living in a city, but after three years that love for nature inside of me could no longer be deprived.

Why would I go back and visit? Why do I still love it?

  1. I loved biking through this city. I have biked through many others, but no other city had the same exhilaration that I felt through Philly. Perhaps because it felt so much more dangerous than other cities I have experienced which made it so strangely special. I’m sure there is worse; I have also ridden on a motorbike in Indonesia. But weaving in and out of cars, dodging taxis and huge trucks will always be exhilarating.
  2. Entertainment. I loved all the dive bars. I loved all the venues and the endless possibilities to see shows. So. Much. Music. I loved dressing up in a theme and dancing my butt off all night. I loved the local art that covered the walls of bars and cafes. I also specifically loved the 2nd street festival and summers along the Pier. 
  3. The attitude. And for this I am not talking about the bad attitude. Of course in every city, every country, there are great people and terrible people blah blah blah. Yet in Philly, I met so many accepting people in three years and found that more often than not people want to be nice, laugh, progress and have fun just as much as you. I met so many artistic people with lives and stories I could listen to for hours, strangers cracking jokes to you on the street, groups of friends happily intertwined, and so many people with badass attitudes that won’t take shit from anyone.

Photographing a city has always been a struggle for me, including the most recent visit. I do not feel the same photographic inspiration or confidence that I feel with different surroundings. It feels embarrassing even typing that as someone who loves to photograph, but screw it, it’s the truth. So therefore, I decided to dig through my vault of images and make a post of some of the collected photos throughout the years from Philly. 

(These photos are a collection of 35mm, fuji instant, and canon digital.)

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Taken by Jess

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