WALKING PHILADELPHIA

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For several years, I was a Los Angeles-based contributor to the arts and entertainment section of the Philadelphia Daily News. That meant interviewing actors and directors about their work and lives. If they had ever spent any time in Philly, I also would ask about their best memories of the city. Sarah Jessica Parker remembered a mime who performed near her dad’s place at the old Headhouse Square, Nicolas Cage liked the pizza at Tacconelli’s, and Elizabeth Banks has fond memories of catching a show at the Theatre of Living Arts after a dinner date with her future husband in South Philly. All good stories, but my favorite answer came from Rick Yune, who played a villain in the James Bond film Die Another Day. As a Penn student in the 1990s, he recalled his favorite running route: beginning at 40th and Chestnut in West Philly, east to the Delaware Avenue waterfront, then back. Whether you run, walk or stroll it, it’s a fantastic way to experience the city—32 blocks that take you by historic sites, beautiful old churches, unexpected murals, top restaurants, brick homes, and gates that lead to secret gardens or alleys. Take Walnut one way and follow Chestnut back past Independence Hall,Washington Square, and City Hall, or zigzag between them and other parallel streets such as Spruce or Pine. The grid layout means you’ll never get lost, and you’ll end with a heightened sense of the city’s eclectic mix of academia, history, and blue-collar pride.

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