The Curbed Cup, our annual award to the Philadelphia neighborhood of the year, kicks off with 16 'hoods vying for the prestigious fake trophy. This week we'll have two matchups per day, and all the results and the full tourney bracket will be reviewed on Friday. Polls for each pairing stay open for 24 hours. Let the eliminations commence!
Society Hill: the elegant, gracious neighborhood of colonial homes and historic preservation, where the imagination can easily conjure the ghosts of Founding Fathers at home by the fire. The real estate in this area—from Front to Eighth Street, Lombard to Walnut—is some of the most highly priced in the city, and some of the least attainable; families stay in the historic single-family homes for generations. It wasn't always this way, though. The neighborhood boasts one of this city's most interesting chronicles of revitalization—a city planning triumph that was so complete, it's hard to imagine the neighborhood was ever as down and out as some long-timers claim. The Society Hill Towers by I.M. Pei loom over the nabe, while Headhouse Square plays host to craft fairs and tourists, who will find the neighborhood's residents engaged with their community and eager to talk about its history.
Roxborough is a neighborhood very much set apart from downtown—some Philadelphians will tell you it's not even a part of Philadelphia. (Neighboring Manayunk and East Falls get the same treatment.) The river and Wissahickon Park further the sense of distance, but really, it's just like many other Philly 'hoods: It has long stretches of row houses too, but it also has large homes set apart on single plots of land. Perhaps that's one reason why the neighborhood has long suffered an identity crisis: How to make a coherent picture out of all these elements: the natural beauty of the park, the urban grit of the row homes, the waxing and waning retail on Ridge Avenue, the constant confusion over which is Roxborough and which is Manayunk. Nonetheless, in recent years Roxborough has done an admirable job of marketing its strengths anew and it's having a renaissance.