Local Atmosphere

Philadelphia, PA
Admission Difficulty
Very Hard
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4 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: There might be some safety concerns occasionally but overall Philly is an excellent city to live in. There are tons of opportunities if you choose to capitalize on them.

5 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: Philly is wonderful, thinking of settling permanently.

4 College Senior

Local Atmosphere: Overall fine -- good stores to go into in Center City, close to the main downtown area. EXCELLENT eateries/food places. Parking is generally okay but college students don't typically use cars.

3 College Junior

Local Atmosphere: There isn't really much to do in the town of California there are one or two places to eat but nowhere to really shop or have recreational activities unless its held on campus

5 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: The urban atmosphere of Philadelphia has been a great transition for me coming from Chicago and allows for numerous options no matter what you are interested in doing.


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Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Perry Petra-Wong
Pasadena, Calif.
Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
View all previous student authors

Students at Penn love Philadelphia. Most wanted to study at an urban college for the excitement and opportunity one can provide, and their wishes are more than fulfilled at Penn's West Philly location. Center City, with its streets full of restaurants, theaters, and other hot spots, is a short walk away, and the historical richness of Old City is just a hop, skip, jump, and a cab ride from the heart of Penn's campus. Speaking of campus, unlike most urban schools, Penn actually has one, which allows students to relax, play sports, toss a ball, ride a bike, or catch some sun on the grassy expanses of college green or the many courtyards around the dorms.

Unique, vibrant, and artsy, the city of Philadelphia has absolutely everything a student could want. Music, food, sports, and more universities than Boston, as well as sections of the city which retain their friendly neighborhood feel, set Philly apart as a diverse and exciting place to go to school. On a given weekend, a Penn student could easily take a walk along Walnut Street, spend some time at the zoo, browse one of over 100 art museums, enjoy a meal at one of Philadelphia's excellent restaurants, and then spend some time at trendy South Street's many shops. While Philadelphia offers all of this and more, it lacks the crowded jostle of New York, providing a comfortable college setting for even those students without any previous urban experience.

Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
  1. Philadelphia is a city of firsts. The city is home to the first insane asylum, the first electronic computer (ENIAC developed at Penn), America's first university (yes, Penn itself), and the U.S.'s first zoo.
  2. The stairs that Rocky Balboa climbs victoriously in the first Rocky movie are none other than those which lead to the main entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  3. King of Prussia Mall, located in a suburb right outside of Philly is the East Coast's largest mall and the second-largest in the country, dwarfed only by The Mall of America.
  4. Philly's official nickname is "The City of Brotherly Love" because it was perhaps the first city in the world to tolerate all religions. Penn's mascot, the Quaker, was picked in homage to Billy Penn himself to reflect this aspect of Philly's history.
  5. Philadelphia boasts over 100 art museums, many of which can be found along the Ben Franklin Parkway, designed to mimic the Champs-Elysees. The Rodin Museum houses the second-largest collection of the artist's sculptures in the world (Paris is the only city with larger) and the Academy of Natural Sciences holds dinosaur remains, a live butterfly house, and much more
Notable Natives
  • Marian Anderson
  • Donald Bartholomew
  • John Barrymore
  • Ed Bacon
  • Boyz II Men
  • Alexander Calder
  • Wilt Chamberlain
  • Bill Cosby
  • Stuart Davis
  • Walter E. Diemer
  • Oliver Evans
  • W.C. Fields
  • Henry George
  • Grace Kelly
  • Patti Labelle
  • Mario Lanz
  • Tara Lipinski
  • George McClellan
  • Margaret Mead
  • Cecil B. Moore
  • Man Ray
  • Betsy Ross
  • Will Smith
  • The Three Stooges
Local Slang
  • Hoagie: Commonly known as a sub or a hero
  • Wawa: Found in Philly and south New Jersey, this is basically a 7-Eleven where you can get a 'fresh' sandwich 24 hours a day.
  • Wiz-with: The proper way to order a cheesesteak with cheese-wiz and onions. (For no onions simply say "Wiz-without." See? It's easy!)
Points of Interest
  • Old City
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Rittenhouse Square
  • South Street
Shopping Centers
  • The Bellevue
  • Cherry Hill Mall
  • The Gallery at Market East
  • King of Prussia Mall
  • The Shops at Liberty Place
Movie Theaters
The Bridge: Cinema de Lux
230 S. 40th Street
(215) 386-3300
Major Sports Teams
  • Philadelphia 76ers: basketball
  • Philadelphia Eagles: football
  • Philadelphia Flyers: hockey
  • Philadelphia Phillies: baseball
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
  • New York City: NY: 2 hours
  • Washington: D.C.: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 56 responses

Very poor
  • Cost of living
  • Dining
  • Friendliness of locals toward students
  • Museums/cultural attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Parks and recreation
  • Professional sports
  • Safety
  • Scenery
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

What is the local atmosphere like at your school?    Based on 55 responses

  • 0% Painfully remote.
  • 7% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 2% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 5% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 85% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 55 responses

  • 4% There aren't any nearby schools.
  • 38% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 58% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 54 responses

  • 19% No way.
  • 54% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 28% Totally.



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