“We hit em like the El at 60th and Market.”
—Black Thought of The Roots, “Adrenaline”
I waited until the most personal part of one of the most Philly songs ever written to begin my voyage across Philadelphia on SEPTA, Independence Pass in hand. I think that there is a small, romantic sense of freedom that one can gain from using a large transit system like ours. A large and varied urban landscape can be intimidating because of the scale of everything. There’s so much to see and so many ways to get places and when one is hit with a touch of the urban wanderlust, the greatest tool and greatest hinderance is not having any particular destination in mind.
Fortunately, this particular project gave the four of us reasonable guidelines to allow for the successful completion of our missions and allow for that wanderlust to take hold and really give us a chance to show what we saw. I only had general places in mind when I started out. I wanted to see parts of North Philadelphia that I seldom visit and check off a number of ‘mental pictures’ that I’ve taken across the city over the years—places that I’ve been by without a camera in hand—and get there the SEPTA way.
As was the case with the 2009 installment of the Independence Pass project, I wanted to use as many modes of transit as I could. SEPTA is in rare company in terms of the scope of its fleet—where even most large systems operate only buses and trains, SEPTA offers variations on those and other modes that are only matched by a small handful of agencies in North America. Being able to quickly fly over or slowly roll through the various nooks and crannies of our fair town offers the observant opportunities to view this city in all of its shades and depth. This is the beauty of having a system like ours. Yes, it serves it practical purpose (most of the time) but we all know that our train, trolley and bus seats are like life in a movable theater.
The show isn’t always good but it’s rarely dull and it is honestly Philadelphia. Here are nine hours of such a show.
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