Explore the charming Center City West neighborhood over some well-matched tunes
One of the many great things about portable music: it offers the perfect excuse to live every moment of life to a soundtrack. Going on a milk run just feels that much more poignant when you’re doing it to some Sufjan Stevens. Now that it’s spring and all of Philly beckons to be explored, Street wants you to let a soundtrack whisk you away to some of the city’s best spots. Here’s a playlist for the trip in and out of Center City West, a lovely walk that takes under an hour altogether and offers all manner of cool stuff to explore.
Start: 34th and Spruce
End: 22nd and Lombard (and then come back to campus)
Total Distance: Just shy of 2 miles
1. “Rose Garden” – Shad & “White Girl” – Meshell Ndegeocello
Sorry, Drake, but the (coveted) title of “best Canadian rapper” really belongs to the Rwandan-born, Ontario-raised Shad. “Rose Garden” brings just the right amount of upbeat introspection and an irresistible soul hook to get you moving off campus toward the South Street Bridge. And as hokey as it may be to admire a city skyline for all its vague promises, that’s exactly what you’re going to want to do as you cross the Schuylkill. This bonding moment with Philly gains some extra good vibes from the low-tempo beats of “White Girl,” a standout track from neo-soul bassist and all-around badass Meshell Ndegeocello.
2. “Time is Wasting” – White Life
From the bridge, take a left onto Schuylkill Ave. and follow along the curve until you hit Lombard to head east. The first left on Taney Ave. leads to Pine, and on the way you’ll pass a grassy refuge comprising of the Schuylkill Pocket, Veterans Memorial Field (plus the actual memorial), and Markward Playground, which rocks a charmingly bizarre gargoyle statue. If you’ve worked up an appetite, you can grab coffee and empanadas at the Argentine eatery Gavin’s Café on 26th and Pine. But then you should keep moving with “Time is Wasting,” a track from Baltimore-based group White Life whose throwback to 80s dance music is among the most authentic and addictive you’ll find.
3. “Lovin’ It” – Little Brother
Once you hit Fitler Square at 24th and Pine, it’s time to cool down with the effortless rhymes of underground kingpins Little Brother. “Lovin’ It” is a great background jam for soaking in the flower-decked square and interesting mix of architecture. You may even find yourself steering toward the Mediterranean fare at Dmitri’s, a Philly seafood favorite (FYI, this Dmitri’s at 2227 Pine is not a BYOB like the one in Queen’s Village).
*You can find our review of Dmitri’s here.
4. “Zodiac Shit” – Flying Lotus
One of the most interesting producers out there, Flying Lotus has crafted what can essentially be considered hip hop’s answer to café-hopping with the dreamy “Zodiac Shit.” This track can guide you in and out of Good Karma nearby at 331 22nd and Café Lutecia, a bistro-style café that brings in an older crowd at 23rd and Lombard…
5. “Believe” – CANT
…or, if you happen to be café-ed out, you can make the right onto 22nd to circle back home by taking Lombard west, moving past some more beautiful historic townhouses. Lombard also gives an interesting little peek into the community. There’s Pure Design, one of Philly’s most sought-after florists, at the 22nd St. intersection, Tastebuds Markets and Catering at 24th, and the self-declared “progressive” private school, The Philadelphia School, on the west side of 25th. The quiet of the area meshes seamlessly with the when-indie-met-R&B-sounds of “Believe” by CANT, the side project of Grizzly Bear bassist Chris Taylor. “Believe” also pairs nicely with the gorgeous trees overhanging Naudain St. (between South and Lombard) past 22nd, if you’re up for the slight diversion.
6. “I Wanna Get Next to You” – Rose Royce
Lombard will take you down to 27th, which curves back to the South Street Bridge. For your return home, what could a better winding-down song than the soul classic “I Wanna Get Next to You” by Rose Royce (the ‘70s superstars who brought “Car Wash” into the world)? This track is at least as soothing as a sunset over the Schuylkill on an idyllic spring day. Plus, since you’ve just spent the last 40 minutes or so reveling in solitude, it may not be the worst idea to listen to a song that, frankly, will make you want to get next to someone. So in conclusion — start your walkin’!