If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

As a locally-based but traveling urban photographer, I'm proud to team up with PhillySkyline.com to show a piece of the city I love.

After you've walked through Old City with us, please take a moment to check out my travel and photography website at SkyscraperSunset.com. If you love PhillySkyline.com's neighborhood tours, you may like my Urban Tours page as well. In any case, thanks for visiting this Old City tour and I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

–Matthew Johnson

Ritzy, gritty, artistic, modern, historical. Residential, government-dominated, business-oriented, tourism-driven. Walkable, but in places greatly interrupted by the needs of drivers.

Old City changes its identity from block to block, and from hour to hour. At 6:30 AM, a few blocks north of Market Street, things move slowly and have the feel of a place where neighbors still say hello to each other on the streets. To the east, abandoned buildings on Front Street, so close to wonderful areas of the city, make you scratch your head. Then it makes sense when you look across the street at a blank concrete wall hiding the eight lanes of I-95 that cut off Old City from Penn's Landing and the Delaware River waterfront.

To the north, the Ben Franklin Bridge towers over Old City. As business hours approach, the steady stream of cars from the New Jersey suburbs becomes a frenzy, and down on Market Street, it seems like business as usual near large commercial buildings for Fox Television, Wachovia Bank, and others.

After the masses retire to their desks, the mid-morning crowd is dominated by tourists walking in guided groups or riding on horse-drawn carriages. Old City is home to some of America's most historical areas, centered mostly in the Independence National Historic Park, home to Independence Hall and the location of the signing of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

When the work week is done and the sun sets, Old City can get pretty rowdy as it begins to fulfill its role as one of Philadelphia's nightlife hot-spots. The diversity of the area applies to the night as well. Local metal bands play small concerts at The Khyber just steps from places like Bleu (yes, Bleu) Martini, where some 76ers players had a well-publicized party a few years ago.

Come in and check out the photos. Any way you slice it, Philadelphia's Old City is an area of great variety, and without a doubt one of America's best urban neighborhoods.