I’d Rather Be in Philadelphia

Published by Elizabeth Azzato, MD, PhD, and other Pathology Residents, on January 30, 2015

A persistent legend has it that the epitaph on the tombstone of W.C. Fields reads “I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” In fact, many first-time visitors still hold some preconceived ideas about what it’s like to live in the “City of Brotherly Love.” Here are some questions that many of us had when we first considered enrolling in the Pathology Residency Program at Penn and that you might have as well if you don’t know Philly yet—as answered by our own residents.

What should I know about the immediate area surrounding the University of Pennsylvania?  

This urban environment has evolved dramatically over the years. During the 1990s, the University began an aggressive neighborhood investment strategy, incentivizing staff and faculty to live near campus through a mortgage program and instilling money into public services like local middle schools, which attracted suburban families to move to the area, including some of our residents and fellows. The area, often referred to as University City, is a vibrant community and we invite you to take a look for yourself through the official website.

Where do the residents and fellows live?

A large portion of our residents live in the neighborhoods surrounding the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), including University CityCenter City, and the Art Museum district, many within a 20-minute walk to HUP. Some of our residents live in the surrounding suburbs and commute daily into work. Some own houses, others rent apartments in large buildings and everything in between.

What do the residents and fellows do for fun?

What don’t we do? We are a diverse group of singles, married couples and young families, with a wide range of interests. From a departmental standpoint, we have weekly resident-organized happy hours, departmentally funded end-of-block dinners, and a variety of orientation and commencement activities. Philadelphia has a lot to offer (see below), and we like to take advantage of the great food, bar scene and cultural opportunities. And let’s not forget events like canoeing down the Brandywine River, Philadelphia’s Beer Week and the city’s excellent Fourth of July celebrations. For activities outside of the city, the Poconos, NYC, Washington DC, and the Jersey Shore are all incredibly close.

How do I get to work?

Residents in Center City and University City will walk in, ride their bikes, or take SEPTA transportation. A regional rail station is conveniently located in University City, just a few blocks from HUP.

How expensive is Philadelphia?

The cost of living in the greater Philadelphia area is surprisingly reasonable in comparison to most major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington, DC, and Boston. See, for example, this overview

Do I need a car? Or is a car completely impossible in Center City?

You do not necessarily need a car if you plan to live in the city. However, having a car in the city is easy. Residential parking permits ($35 for initial permit, $20 for yearly renewal) are available through the Philadelphia Parking Authority, monthly reserved spaces are available for purchase through a variety of companies, and some apartment buildings have garage space.

How do I get around Philadelphia?

Philadelphia is an amazingly walkable city, especially around Center City. Taxis are plentiful and reasonably priced, and public transit options are available. See previous question How do I get to work?

I like to eat. What about food?

If that’s the case, you have picked an excellent city! Home to the famed cheesesteaks and pretzels, Philadelphia has a selection of fine dining, ranging from the Stephen Starr brand to an excellent variety of food trucks, many of which gravitate around the hospital and can be a great option for lunch. We are also home to a variety of farmer’s markets, as well as the famous Italian market and Reading Terminal. 

I like to eat, but I also want to maintain my pre-residency fit body. What about gyms?

There is no hospital-associated gym, per se; however, HUP residents receive a discounted membership fee to the University of Pennsylvania recreational facilities, which offer state-of-the-art fitness equipment, a variety of classes and services, as well as recreational sports. As an alternative, many of our residents belong to gyms in the city, including City Fitness, Sweat and others; in addition, fitness rooms are provided in some apartment buildings. If you want to be outside, the Schuylkill River Trail, which runs through the City of Philadelphia, is a multipurpose trail that is excellent for walking, running, and biking.

What cultural activities are available in Philadelphia?

We have a multitude of museums, from the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes to the resident favorite, the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, as well as a multitude of historical sites, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. For local theater options, check out the Walnut Street Theater or the Forrest Theater. A variety of national and international performances from the world of orchestra, dance, theater and other events are hosted at the Kimmel Center. For those who only want Broadway, NYC is just a short bus or train trip away.

What sports does Philadelphia offer?

Fans in Philadelphia love their sports, and we have it all, including the Philadelphia Phillies (MLB), the Eagles (NFL), the 76ers (NBA), the Union (MLS) and the Flyers (NHL). In addition, Philadelphia hosts a marathon, an international bike race, the Penn Relays, and, with its location next to the Schuylkill River, hosts more regattas and boat races than any other city in the nation.

I have a family. Is Philadelphia a good place to have kids?

Many of our residents and fellows have families. Some live in the city, while others have chosen to live in the surrounding suburbs. The University of Pennsylvania has child care services through the Penn Children’s Center; however, since the waitlist can be quite long, many families have found alternative child care. A variety of public and private schools are available in the area. For more detailed information about the experiences of our young families at HUP, please come and talk to some of our residents and fellows.

Wait! I have more questions!

Then please come and take a look for yourself! We invite you to apply and interview with us, to see just how much the city of Philadelphia, and our Pathology Residency Program, have to offer.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these blog columns are those of the authors or other attributed individuals and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Department, Penn Medicine, or the University of Pennsylvania. Health information is provided for educational purposes and should not be used as a source of medical advice or diagnosis.