Atlanta or Philadelphia?

Coming to Philadelphia from Atlanta three years ago, there was a lot to be excited about. A “bigger” city, with decent public transportation, that is pedestrian and bike friendly. And they recycle, WHAT? A dream come true. Except, I soon discovered it wasn’t all roses and rainbows in the city of brotherly love (and sisterly affection). This is sort of a practical guide to the pros and cons of both cities. I’ll let you be the judge.


Philadelphia wins big in this department. Not only is SEPTA much smarter and reliable than MARTA, at this moment it is cheaper and easier to use (tokens, and cash versus breeze cards). I mean, how far can you get on a system that goes in 2.5 directions anyway? SEPTA is all around larger and more accessible. It is also convenient for us who are tired of the PPA and their antics. Parking Wars is a real thing here…take it from someone who will have paid the Philadelphia Parking Authority close to 700 in tickets and fines this year alone. Damn the man.

Another thing, the traffic in Atlanta is horrendous. The highway system makes no real sense (who thought I285 and combining I75/I85 was a good idea?). Anyone who lives in Atlanta knows not to travel on 75/85 between the hours of 2 and 7 p.m. on a Friday. You just don’t do it. I’ve never been in traffic more than an hour even during a Friday rush hour in Philadelphia.  And because ATL is such a sprawling metropolis, and MARTA is largely ineffective, you’re almost immobile without a car. I don’t know about you, but I can certainly live without getting in my car everyday and the constant reminder of the pillaging of mother earth. It literally makes me sick….

speaking of pillaging mother earth…

Environmental Issues

It is SO hard to recycle in Atlanta, and I’m not even sure why at this point. How incredible is it that many of the apartment complexes do not offer recycling to their residents. I literally had to take my recycling to Whole Foods and once got yelled at for storing it on my porch. It’s 2013, get with the program Atlanta. I will never understand this.

Another thing I will never understand is why people in Philadelphia litter so much. It is a travesty. There is a reason it’s called Filthadelphia, and this can make being a pedestrian uber unpleasant. A barrage of smells and trash accumulating at your feet on a daily basis. It’s just not right. Never have I seen people slow their cars to deposit trash on the street, until moving to Philadelphia of course. While I’m all for littering natural things that decompose or could have some other use in our eco system, I will never in a million years be okay with throwing down a styrofoam cup, or an aluminum can. It’s beyond trashy, and an epidemic for my brothers and sisters in Philadelphia.

Which would you choose?


For the same job, you’ll get less money in Philadelphia. There also seems to be a lot more underemployment in Philly, versus what I feel is over employment in Atlanta. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics both cities have a virtually identical unemployment rate. Both are too high if you ask me, but that’s coming from an “unemployed” person, ha.

Arts and Recreation

Here is one area where the cities might tie although I have one major grudge against the Philadelphia Summer…the lack of swimming pools. I recognize I am speaking from a hyper-privileged space on this one but it is almost enough to sway me back in the direction of Atlanta. It’s way too humid in this city for there not to be a swimming pool readily available. You would think with all this gentrification there would at least be more complexes with pools available, alas…Philly is not too keen on luxury.

As far as the parks and number of activities going on daily, the cities are evenly split. There is a lot to see and do in both places, though it’ll probably take you a lot longer to do anything in Atlanta since it’s significantly harder to get around. There is more history in Philadelphia, and because it is a more developed city chances are there are more happenings here, but Atlanta is definitely trying to step up it’s game, attracting a higher profile and a more diverse night life. Based on arts and cultural events, Philly edges out the victory.


Atlanta takes the cake in this department. Philadelphia is comprised mainly of bars versus Atlanta which has an array of night clubs or special events geared toward dancing. I am consistently disappointed by the lack of dancing in Philadelphia. It’s a real problem, and Philly is down a nightclub since Fluid closed recently. It’s really sad because I see a lot of potential, but I stand by my sentiment that Voyeur is the only legitimate nightclub in Philly.

In Atlanta, I could run through a list of spots to try out on any given night for a variety of people looking to get into something fun. In Philly…all I can offer is a place to drink away your dancing blues.


Atlanta wins. There are still some parts of Philly I need to get to know, but I can find better food and for cheaper in Atlanta, and I don’t have to worry about bringing my own alcohol!

Weather and Geography

The temperatures are around the same. On some days it might be ten degrees warmer in either city. Atlanta has more of a dry heat and Philadelphia is very humid because of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. Atlanta is definitely missing a body of water, how lucky that Philadelphia has two. I like all of the tall trees in Atlanta, Philadelphia is lacking in this department unless you go into west Philly or up north into Fairmount Park.

There are a lot more bugs in Georgia but I love being surrounded by the green space.


When I first moved to Philly, I could feel the difference on the street level. People seem much more alive and in tune with each other and the world around them. One of my friends suggested that Atlanta is more isolating because of the amount of driving necessarily…it’s an interesting argument and partially true perhaps. I had one experience that pretty much sums it up.

One summer I was showing  some new Temple MFA students around the city. We passed a corner store in center city. A black woman dressed in scrubs was exiting the store and a white man wearing a suit and tie was entering. What seemed like abruptly to us but maybe not to them, they engaged in possibly the most perfect high five ever. “That was awesome” one of my school mates said. “That is Philly,” I responded. Things like that happen all the time here. People actually refer to each other as brother and sister.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Atlanta is a very nice city, people are extremely pleasant, they speak and smile at one another. Being the south, they are big on genteelness and pleasantries, but something seems more genuine about the camaraderie in Philly.

Crime is rampant in both cities, but somehow I’ve not managed to be affected by it in Philadelphia, although the statisitics are horrible. People in both cities are just trying to chill overall.


Philadelphia needs more swimming pools! Is there a place that offers the best of both worlds?