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Why we love Philly ... and it's not just because it's not New England

| Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, 11:27 a.m.
A Philadelphia Eagles banner hangs from Philadelphia Museum of Art in view of the Rocky statue in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018.
A Philadelphia Eagles banner hangs from Philadelphia Museum of Art in view of the Rocky statue in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018.
Set against the dramatic backdrop of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Center provides a fitting setting for the icon of freedom, and for the first time allows visitors to view exhibits focusing on the Bell’s origins and its modern day role as an international icon of freedom.
R. Kennedy for GPTMC
Set against the dramatic backdrop of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Center provides a fitting setting for the icon of freedom, and for the first time allows visitors to view exhibits focusing on the Bell’s origins and its modern day role as an international icon of freedom.
These are demonstration garden beds at Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia. They show gardeners how different plants work as groundcovers. Barbara Ellis is a life long gardener, horticulturalist and author of Covering Ground, a book about groundcovers.
Barbara Ellis
These are demonstration garden beds at Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia. They show gardeners how different plants work as groundcovers. Barbara Ellis is a life long gardener, horticulturalist and author of Covering Ground, a book about groundcovers.
A Philadelphia tradition as iconic as the cheesesteak, the Mummers Parade struts into town every New Year’s Day.
R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia
A Philadelphia tradition as iconic as the cheesesteak, the Mummers Parade struts into town every New Year’s Day.
Franklin Institute
Franklin Institute
Philly Pretzel Factory pretzels
Philly Pretzel Factory pretzels

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have always had a kind of love/hate relationship. We're joined by history and boundaries, but divided by more than 300 miles on the turnpike and more than 1 million people in population (we admit it, Philly's bigger).

We might poke fun at the weird accents and food tastes of the other, but just like brothers, we'll defend those same idiosyncrasies against all outsiders.

And this weekend, most Pittsburghers will take up arms to root on the Philadelphia Eagles against the much-despised New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

But there's more to love about the City of Brotherly Love than a green-tinged football team that we hope topples the reigning NFL champs. The Trib staff got together to point out some of our sister city's good points.

Don't worry, we're not going crazy here — we still hate the Flyers.

FOOD

• Two words: Cheese. Steaks.

Much like we debate Mineo's vs. Aieillo's pizza, the cheesesteak debate is often between Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks, but there are a lot more places to go to indulge in these ooey, gooey sandwiches.

• Dietz & Watson

Lucky for us, you can now find these prime deli meats at Pittsburgh area grocers, but the company is headquartered in Philly.

• Soft pretzels

Sure, other places make soft pretzels, but Philly's are the gold standard. You can get them shipped to you from several sites, including the Pennsylvania General Store . pageneralstore.com/category/SoftPretzels

• TastyKakes

When I was in college, before TastyKake cupcakes and other treats were widely available, we always counted on friends from Philly and the surrounding area to bring them back to campus. Now, I can get them at the grocer down the street.

• Philadelphia Cream Cheese

OK, this really wasn't created or made in Philadelphia. Kraft, which now owns the brand, says the Philly name was adopted in 1880 because the city was considered at the time to be the home of top quality food. Good enough for us.

MUSEUMS

There are too many to list them all, but here are big attractions.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Although it was immortalized by Rocky Balboa running up its steps, this giant museum is much more than just the Rocky statue out front. Its permanent collection includes paintings by Monet, Cezanne, Dali, Homer, Picasso and more. This week the museum is flying a "Go Eagles" banner between its iconic columns, a space usually reserved for promoting its newest exhibits. philamuseum.org

Rodin Museum

This small museum contains the largest collection of sculptor Auguste Rodin's works outside Paris. rodinmuseum.org

Barnes Foundation

Albert Barnes left behind a large art collection, which was originally housed in Merion, Pa., but moved to Philly in 2010. It contains everything from sculpture to pottery to decorative arts and paintings. barnesfoundation.org

The Franklin Institute

One of the oldest science museums in the country, the Franklin Institute was an innovator in designing hands-on exhibits. Through March 4, you can see the 30 of the "Terracota Warriors of the First Century." www.fi.edu

HISTORY

As managing editor Jim Borden said, "You can't out-patriot Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross. Take that, Foxborough."

And another editor chimed in, "Ben Franklin seemed like a pretty cool dude." The founding father has his own museum, which reopened in 2013 after a two-year revitalization.

Look up places to visit in Philly and the historical sites dominate. In addition to Independence National Historical Park, there's the National Constitution Center, the Museum of the American Revolution, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the National Museum of American Jewish History, Elfreth's Alley, the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the U.S., the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, and, of course, the Betsy Ross House.

If you want a little different kind of history, visit the now-vacant Eastern State Penitentiary.

SPORTS

We know Philadelphia sports are a hard sell for Pittsburgh fans, but reporter Patrick Varine has a great reason to love Philly: "We should love Philly because their insane fans make our insane fans look a lot less insane. For instance, when the Steelers are playing for a Super Bowl berth, Mayor Peduto doesn't have to send a public-works crew out to grease all of our light poles so drunk idiots don't scale them."

By the way, the greasing effort with Crisco didn't work, so Philly police have other plans for the Super Bowl.

Here's a few more Philly sports facts to love:

• The city produced basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain.

• TJ McConnell, a Chartiers Valley grad, plays for the 76ers.

• Eagles defensive end Chris Long donated his 2017 salary to charity.

GARDENS

"Can anyplace that has so many great gardens really be that bad?" suggests garden guy Doug Oster. According to americasgardencapital.org, there 30 public gardens, arboreta and historic landscapes within 30 miles of the city. The most famous in Longwood in Kennett Square.

The city also hosts the prestigious Philadelphia Flower Show, coming up March 3-11.

Visitors view horticultural displays during a preview of the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show, featuring the theme "Holland: Flowering the World," at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Photo by AP

 

WHAT MORE IS THERE TO LOVE?

Our Trib staff had a few more ideas:

• "Because it's only about an hour from the Jersey shore."

• "The whole Rocky thing. We love some underdogs."

• "Philly natives butcher the word "water" (wooder) worse than anything Yinzers say."

• "Because the city hosts the Mummer's Parade and if the Eagles win they can bring those characters to the Super Bowl Parade"

• "Because we also love eagles — Harmarville eagles, that is."

Susan Jones is the Tribune-Review features editor. Reach her at 724-850-1272, sjones@tribweb.com or on Twitter at @SusanJonesTrib.

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