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The Truth About Philadelphia

Glenn Holsten Lead-in:
For the past ten years, I've been looking at the city of Philadelphia with the help of a camera. I filmed documentaries, drama, dance, poetry, all in and around the city and the more I look the more beautiful the city looks back. I wouldn't dare think about building a set or creating a false backdrop when you've all got it built in in a city like Philadelphia the idea seems ludicrous. There's classical beauty, there's surreal beauty, and it often frightens me that I see beauty in the deterioration that surrounds us. What is the most beautiful thing you've seen in Philadelphia?

Fairmont Park. I challenge anyone at the break of dawn, just when the dawn, the sunlight is coming, shining through the trees, take a ride, River Drive, walk. It's like paradise. The geese are out, the quietness, the beauty. How can this be so peaceful, so serene and so heavenly? It gives me a sense of how we should be all over the City.

In the midst of, sometimes chaos, confusion, tumult and turmoil. It's like you get a glimpse of heaven just for a brief moment. I've been through, com, come up the River Drive going north, just the break of dawn, and with the rays of the sun, sunlight coming through the trees, bouncing off the water and say, oh my God, this is an unbelievable sight. And, for a moment, you get caught up in it, the beauty of it. In an urban city to find something like this? It's unimaginable. . Then the traffic starts.

Carol :
I've never seen any trouble on the drive. That's where you see Philadelphia at its best. You see all the nationalities running up and down, sittin' in the park, riding a bicycle, playing a picnic, fishing, you know, feeding the ducks. Laying out there kissin'. They're skating, they're bicycle riding, they're walking, they're running, you know, they're doing everything. And everybody's just doing it.

Celia :
The most beautiful thing in Philadelphia? I believe I may say the people. Yesterday, I was sitting on my steps of my house. And you see these little kids getting their, their feets wet and all that. The hydrant was open and they were all falling, and the kids were having fun getting, getting wet. I love that. For a little thing they, they get so happy, you know.

Frank :
And another thing that I looked -- thought was beautiful in Philadelphia is I go down here in South Philly, in Packard Park.. There's a park at Broad and Oregon Avenue, and umm, I -- I never knew the man but he's a little Italian man that bought the parks and donated them to South Philadelphia. And I think that was really, umm, really touching, where one human's reaching out to the other and the -- that's nice to see.

Shakara :
When they redid the, umm, the park, Norris Square Park. Five years ago, it was considered needle park. Everybody would go there smoke blunts. It was all IVs on the floor, and there was needles, and just all of the stuff where you would not want to take your kids there at all, because it was just so contaminated. And now you don't see none of that. They did it all over. They got all new equipment for the kids to play on. And that was just like, so nice.

I love those, you know, just peaceful moments that people, that I see people sitting around and contemplating. Like today when I was walking home and crossed that park, I don't know what it's called but it's between Arch and Race. And all these people were sitting sporadically on the wooden benches and one guy's looking at his toes. Umm you know just that those moments, you know, these are complete strangers but it just brings, umm, such, a, a peaceful and uh, relaxed feeling to the city.

Glenn :
And believe it or not, City Hall. City Hall is a very beautiful building if you sit down and look at it not just walk by. Really look at it. I mean there's so many different things on that building umm, that I think people don't even realize.

Juanita :
To me, the Liberty Bell is the most pretty sight I've ever seen cause it's so much history behind that bell. It's so much love in that bell. And it's so much feeling. When you stand there you can even generate the energy that comes from it.

Joe :
1976, the Bicentennial Year. Umm, I don't remember much but the one thing I do remember are, is the whole community, I mean the whole community, it wasn't just our little block. It was the whole City, went crazy; painting poles, painting fire hydrants, they, painting whatever they could paint. You know? It went on for like a week. Everybody was painting everything. They were just having a great time. That, that, that's a beautiful sight. You don't see too many beautiful sights any more.

Benes :
When we allowed skyscrapers to go taller than William Penn I thought that was fantastic. Finally, we're going to be a city growing, going up. I love looking at the Parkway. I love looking at the Parkway from the Art Museum and then going down to City Hall and looking up. I think that's, I think that's, I think that's fabulous. When the flags are flying, the national flags, I think we're a beautiful city, absolutely a beautiful city.

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