July 21, 2016
With the Republican National Convention in full swing in Cleveland and the Democrats coming to Philadelphia next week to hold their convention, the national media has taken to comparing the two cities regarding a variety of topics.
There are plenty of factual ways to look at the current centers of the American political universe in relation to each other: Philly's bigger. Both have large black populations, and both struggle with rampant poverty. One is coming off the peak of achievement in professional basketball, while the other is on the cusp of regained relevance. Both are dominated by Democrats in every level of government.
But as journalists and pundits flood both cities for the kickoffs to what promises to be a fascinating general election, more anecdotal and, at times, in-depth observations of Philly and Cleveland are emerging. In the same way the differences and similarities between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been highlighted, the merits and shortfalls of both metro centers have been at the forefront of national discussion.
Here's a look at how several have compared Philly to Cleveland thus far:
After spending a week in Cleveland, photographer Alex Webb visited the next city that will be the focus of national politics this month -- Philadelphia.
He spent two days in the historic city, snapping almost 4,000 photographs of its rich culture and diversity.
"There's a presence in Philadelphia compared to how it was in Cleveland," he said. "There's more of an actual presence of stuff in the street."
...the host cities, both in Rust Belt swing states, spotlight something Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton rarely discuss: the plight of urban America.
Amid a widening gap between rich and poor, nothing screams income inequality louder than cities, including Cleveland and Philadelphia, case studies in renewal and gentrification, but also in crushing decline. And perhaps no Americans capture as well as those who live in and advocate for these cities the feeling that the nation’s present cannot match its past.
Philadelphia is an established national and international gateway with access to around 100 domestic destinations and around 35 international ones, mostly in the Caribbean and Europe. Cleveland has direct access to just 35 domestic routes and three international ones (Toronto, Cancún and Punta Cana). While 31 million people flew in and out of Philadelphia in 2015, only a little over 8 million did the same in Cleveland.
What's caused this difference? Economics explains why the national airspace system has evolved the way it has, and why it led to a situation where major cities like Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles have dozens and dozens of destinations, and medium size cities like Cleveland, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Memphis or Pittsburgh do not.
The orchestras in both cities were among the prestigious "Big Five" in the period of the 20th century when that was considered a big deal. Both were led for decades by famous Hungary-born conductors. George Szell conducted the Cleveland group from 1946 until 1970 and Eugene Ormandy was an institution in Philadelphia from 1936 until 1980. The cities also have impressive art museums with renowned collections. The Philadelphia Museum of Art sits at the end of the monumental Ben Franklin Parkway and the Cleveland Museum of Art is the centerpiece of the impressive University Circle. One advantage to budget-minded art fans in Cleveland: It's always free to get in there.
Cleveland.com, on weather (citing hotter temperatures, more rainfall and higher levels of mugginess in Philly during the summer):
Well, Clevelanders, you win. Cleveland in July has historically been the better dates for more pleasant weather.