Visiting Philly for the Convention and eager to explore beyond the convention’s walls? A lifelong Philadelphian (like me!) just looking for some photogenic spots around town to post up on Instagram? I’ve got you covered.
My name’s Conrad Benner, better known on the Internet as @StreetsDept. I’ve been photographing Philly for over five years for my blog StreetsDept.com. I absolutely love my hometown. I think there’s so much to see, and photograph, and enjoy. So I’ve pulled together a little list of some of my favorite places to explore with your camera! Starting with…
7) (Almost) Literally Any Street Without Parked Cars
Center City, Philadelphia is a goldmine for photographers looking to capture beautiful photos of old(e) streets and historic architecture, especially the many variations of our Philly-style row homes! We even have a hashtag that we use, #PhillyHomePortrait (originated by @austinxc04 and @billycress), to document them all.
So forget Elfreth’s alley, and check out: S. Quince street, S. Camac street, Waverly street, Cypress street, St. Joseph’s way, S. American street… Seriously, you’ll probably find good stuff down most any alley in Center City that isn’t filled with parked cars, particularly in the Society Hill area.
6) The Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk
You’ve probably heard of this one, but it’s a true masterpiece of modern urban design that’s helped Philly get a ton of national and international attention for how we’re transforming public spaces around the city. It is not to be missed.
No seriously, last year the New York Times called Philadelphia “an urban outdoor oasis”, highlighting this boardwalk in their write-up. Don’t’ miss it!
5) The Franklin Institute’s Kinetic Shimmer Wall
A mesmerizing art structure designed by world-renowned environmental artist and sculptor Ned Kahn, I can’t get enough of this installation on the side of the Franklin Institute (at the intersection of Race and Woodstock streets), which reacts and changes with the wind… Instagram Video, anyone?
4) Cloud Billboard
While the origins of this magnificent piece at 2nd and Race streets are unknown (to me anyway), the simplicity of this piece, on the edge of Old City, next to the Ben Franklin Bridge, is just so refreshing. (Side note: Race Street Pier is a two minute walk from this location, if you’re looking for more Instagram-worthy views!)
3) MOMO’s Mural in Fishtown (And Isaac Tin Wei Lin’s in Chinatown!)
Philly’s known as the City of Murals – it’s home to more public art than any other city in America. A fact you can’t help but to realize almost immediately upon walking around our city. And that’s thanks to our 30 year strong Mural Arts Program.
Two of my favorite murals in the city also happen to be two rather ideal ones for selfies. So, if you’re inclined to point the camera at yourself from time to time, you should definitely check out MOMO’s mural at Frankford avenue and Berks street in Fishtown, and Isaac Tin Wei Lin’s at Race and Juniper streets in Chinatown!
2) Cira Green Park
Cira Green is 1.25 acres of green-roof amazingness, offering quite possibly one of the best views of the Center City skyline. Perched 11stories above the Schuylkill river in University City atop a parking garage, Cira Green is free and open to all from 6am-10pm.
1) Addison Street at Night
Just, without a doubt, one of my favorite streets in Philly. Every night, all the trees lining the two blocks of Addison street between 17th and 19th light up in a wholly movie-magic kind of way! Be prepared to feel feelings. Feelings will be felt.
Conrad Benner is the Founder and Editor of StreetsDept.com, a Philly-based photo-blog that documents and celebrates street art, graffiti, and urban exploration in and around the city of Philadelphia. Conrad’s blog has been named one of the ‘Best Blogs for Travellers’ by The Guardian, and his photography highlighted by Mashable and Instagram as well as printed in Time Magazine and the Encyclopedia Britannica. The winner of the 2011 Philadelphia Geek Award for ‘Geek Culture Journalism,’ Conrad was named ‘Best Art Curator’ in 2014 by Philadelphia Magazine.