Department of Emergency Medicine

Emergency Medicine | Education

About Philadelphia

Our Great City

Philadelphia, as the first capital of the United States, is one of the most history-rich cities in the United States. The centerpiece is Independence Hall and the Constitution Center, which is home to the Liberty Bell, but there is so much more. Simply wandering through the streets of Old City and Society Hill, the neighborhoods that surround this wonderful section of downtown, reveals delightful treasures like the Betsy Ross House, Christ Church, The First Bank of the United States, and Elfreths Alley.

Philadelphia is a dynamic, vibrant city and a fantastic place to live. It’s traditionally very provincial and each neighborhood its own distinct character and charm. Center City is exactly that: the geographical and cultural center of downtown Philadelphia. This bustling area has undergone a facelift in recent years and is now is frequented by nearly half a million employees, residents, tourists, and shoppers on a daily basis. On a quick tour of Center City, one will encounter some of the finest office buildings, hotels, restaurants, bars, theaters, and shopping which our city has to offer.

Just south of center city is South Philadelphia, home of the world's best cheesesteaks, great pretzels, mom-and-pop Italian restaurants, the Italian market, a growing Hispanic community, and the distinctive Philadelphia accent.

The University of Pennsylvania campus and hospital are just west of Center City and across the Schuylkill River in West Philadelphia. This neighborhood is extremely diverse and is made up of university faculty and students, recent immigrants from Africa, the Middle East and India, and a large, inner-city, multigenerational urban community.

There are several websites that contain great information about our city and things to do and see while you’re here:

Arts and Entertainment

If you have any interest in visual arts, Philadelphia is your kind of city. As this city prospered and grew wealthier during the industrial revolution, numerous foundations and associations focusing on the visual arts were founded.

Today there are over 40 art associations, schools of art, museums and collections, public and private. The most spectacular of these is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Located on the banks of the Schuylkill River just downstream from the Boathouse Row and at the beginning of the Avenue of the Arts which runs through Logan Square to City Hall, this building is a Philadelphia landmark. Its steps are the ones Rocky Balboa jogged up. In the past few years, visiting exhibits have included works by Cézanne and Dali.

Other world class art museums are located along the Avenue of the Arts including the Rodin Museum (the Thinker), the Franklin Institute Science Museum, and the Academy of Natural Sciences.

One of the most unique museums in Philadelphia is The Mutter Museum. It contains a fascinating collection of medical oddities that will leave anyone, particularly those in the medical profession, in awe. From the "Soap Lady", a preserved saponified corpse of a hundred years ago, to the giant "megacolon" said to have held "forty bucketfuls of stool", to the medicinal herb garden, this collection will have you talking for days.

Philadelphia has a rich history of supporting public sculptures. Open space throughout the city and on campus display works by Frederick Remington, Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, Henry Mitchell and others.

For music lovers, there is something for everyone. From the lush sounds of the newly built Kimmel Center where the Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera perform, to the gritty jazz at Ortlieb's Jazzhaus, to the numerous live music clubs sprinkled throughout town, there’s something to go listen to nightly.

Food & Drink

If you like to go out, eat, and explore cultures through their cuisine, Philadelphia is one of the best places to live in the U.S.

Because of Pennsylvania’s restrictive liquor license regulations, many restaurants are BYOB. These establishments, as opposed to most restaurants, must make all their profits on food sales. This means that if the food isn’t outstanding, the place fails. The result is a wonderfully diverse and ever-changing collection of reasonably priced restaurants with truly tasty food.

Outdoor Recreation

One of the lesser known and underappreciated aspects of Philadelphia is the surprising access to quality outdoor experiences and activities. While our city is steeped in United States history, that spills over into the surrounding state parks and wilderness areas. This provides some great opportunities to hike, bike, explore and get in touch with fantastic stories from our past.

Fairmont Park
Fairmont Park is part of the largest municipal park system in the world and has over 4,000 acres for public use. Bordering the Schuylkill River, the park is filled with interesting historical buildings, bike and running paths, hiking trails, streams, botanical gardens, picnic and play areas, and the Philadelphia Zoo. It's a great place just blocks from the hospital to run or roller blade after a long shift or to enjoy a nice evening walk.

Valley Forge National Park
The 2,700-acre Valley Forge National Park is a major historic site. Here, General Washington and his Continental Army wintered after defeats at nearby Brandywine Battlefield and the battle of Germantown. On this site, approximately 2,500 of the 10,000 revolutionary soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, dying of disease, hunger and exposure, while the British Army under General Howe resided in relative comfort in Philadelphia. Now it’s a park filled with hiking trails, bike paths and picnic areas.

Whether you like mountain biking, road riding or watching professional bike racing, Philadelphia is filled with opportunities. In fact, some of the most challenging mountain biking you'll find in the area is within the city limits itself. Wissahickon Valley is part of Fairmont Park and is filled with miles of single track. This is hard, technical riding makes you forget you're in one of the largest cities in the country.

For those of us with more mortal riding skills, a relatively flat, firm-packed gravel road called Forbidden Drive, meanders alongside the Wissahickon Creek at the bottom of this valley. You can’t believe how far away from the city you feel here!

Throw your mountain bike on your car and in an hour or so you can be riding great trails in Jim Thorpe. This quaint, touristy Pocono town sits just on the edge of the Lehigh River has several different trails of various levels of skill and conditioning. In addition, there is a 12-mile path along the Lehigh River that is ideal for riders of all skill levels.

For road riders there are many opportunities in and around the city. In Fairmont Park a bike path begins just behind the Museum of Art and runs along the Schuylkill River, out past Valley Forge, and joins a newly built biking trail along the Perkiomen River. This network is over 30 miles long. Combine that with hundreds of rural farming communities in Southern New Jersey and Central Pennsylvania, and this place was made for road riders.

If you like fishing, this is a great place to live. Whether you prefer fishing small creeks, bass fishing in lakes and ponds, or fishing in the ocean for bluefish or striped bass, opportunities abound here.

Pennsylvania is particularly special to fly fisherman and is one of the great fly-fishing destinations in the U.S. People come from all over the country each spring to fish the famous rivers of central Pennsylvania and their hatches. Waters such as the Delaware, the Letort, Falling Spring Branch, Spruce Creek, Slate and Cedar Run, and the Susquehanna all have been written up in fly fishing magazines. They offer great opportunities to fish for wild trout during large fly hatches.

But just because such famous waters are a few hours away doesn't mean you have to drive far to fly-fish. Valley Forge National Monument has a wonderful and challenging spring creek filled with wild trout about 30 minutes outside the city. Wissahickon Creek is minutes from the hospital and is heavily stocked in the spring. Faculty and residents have been known to stop by for a few hours either before or after work.

The Atlantic Coast and Delaware Bay provide endless opportunities to fish for all sorts of species including stripers, blue fish, tuna, fluke and weakfish. Every year the department goes out on a party boat for a fishing event and it’s a great time for everyone.

Day Trips
Philadelphia is perfectly located in the mid-Atlantic region and allows you to access tremendous outdoor and cultural opportunities. You can leave the hospital and be surfing with Dr. Dean in Ocean City in about 75 minutes. New York is only a 90 minute train ride away, and the Pocono mountains are a few hours drive. You can camp, raft, bike ride, hike and even overnight backpack into some surprisingly pristine landscapes.

Whether you’re interested in history, or hiking or rock climbing, this region is sprinkled with beautiful parks and historic buildings to explore and enjoy on a day off.


There are numerous housing options for interns and residents at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Most choose to live nearby or within a half hour of the hospital.

Because the majority of the clinical experience is at or near HUP, the University City area (surrounding the University of Pennsylvania and neighboring Drexel University) and West Philadelphia are convenient locations.

  • The Off-Campus Living (OCL) Office is a great resource of available apartments/houses for rent, as well as for information regarding how to find an apartment, reading leases, etc. The majority of available listings are for the University City area.
  • The Philadelphia Weekly is a free newspaper, distributed on Wednesday mornings, that may be your best bet for finding an apartment listing in Center City
  • Consider driving around the neighborhood you are interested in, and take note of the "for rent" signs

Where do you want to live?
Most of the residents live within a half hour walk or drive from the hospital. At HUP, you will be given a choice of a free parking pass if you drive, or a free Zone 1 Septa (South Eastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority) bus pass if you are living in the immediate Philadelphia area.

Some comments from residents regarding the areas they live in:

University City
"West Philadelphia is the most integrated and diverse community in the city. There are areas with lots of students, and other well-established neighborhood areas. Very close to campus and hospital. Beautiful old homes. Easy access to city. It has been considered by some to be a dangerous place, but in recent years, many people do feel safe in this area."

"I do not own a car and do not intend on buying one, so I chose an apartment in West Philly. I am a 12 minute walk from HUP, 20 minutes from the VA, and 5 minutes from Presby. I have a washer, dryer, dishwasher in a large one-bedroom apartment."

Art Museum
"The Philadelphia Art Museum is one of the many impressive symbols of great architectural design in Philadelphia and situated among other museums in the area such as the Franklin Institute of Science, the Please Touch Museum, the Rodin Museum, and the Academy of Natural Sciences. The residential area is mainly located north of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and consists of townhouses, brownstone multi-family houses, as well as several large apartment complexes. Characteristic of the area are small, quaint streets bounded by the more commercial Fairmount Avenue and Spring Garden Street. It is a convenient walk to Rodin Place, which offers a whole foods market, a convenience store, a sports club, and restaurants, and a short run to Kelly Drive, Boat House Row, and Fairmount Park for the athletically inclined. For those of us who work evening shifts, the neighborhood is safe and quiet, with a police precinct nearby. Many residents choose to live here because of its proximity both to the hustle and bustle of center city and the natural beauty of Fairmount Park."

"Residential neighborhood with mix of young professionals, families, great neighborhood restaurants and bars, close to boathouse row, river, cultural events. I love it! 30 minutes by bus or a 5 minute drive to HUP. Depending on where you live, on street parking is available. About 1/3 of the residents live here (1/3 in Center City, 1/3 in burbs)."

"I live beside the Art Museum in 2601 Parkway Apartments. It's a charming complex that is very well maintained. They also have other properties in center city that can be found at which lists size and rent. Great restaurants within walking distance. Parking is painful when you come home after ER shifts but is easily available if you make it home before 8pm. Only about a 10 minute drive to Penn. Close to Fairmount Park if you are into outdoors or just want to walk your dog."

Rittenhouse Square
"The closest neighborhood to the hospital, aside from West Philly. One of the nicest neighborhoods in the city, with beautiful parks, a movie theater, a ton of great restaurants, and close to the main shopping area. Very easy commute - 15 minute walk with multiple bus lines from the area to the hospital. Parking is difficult, however, but no car is needed. I use my car a few times a month. If you are coming to look for an apartment, make sure you come during the week - they don't show on weekends."

Society Hill
"Like Rittenhouse, is one of the oldest and nicest neighborhoods in the city. Just several minutes further from Penn by car, it is within easy walking distance to Olde City (one of the most frequented bar and restaurant areas in town), is a little quieter than Rittenhouse, and has an amazing historic past (cobble stone streets and row after row of beautiful 18th century homes). Additionally, Society Hill is near Penn's Landing/Delaware River and South Street, and although a little more expensive than other areas (equivalent to Rittenhouse), there are affordable studios and apartments both here and in nearby Olde City."

City Line/Fairmount Park
"I lived in the Presidential City Apartments for a year (where 76 north hits City Line Avenue). It is a good option if you are looking for a short term lease (3 months), and want parking. It's next to beautiful Fairmont Park. Takes about 10 minute to drive to HUP. Easy access to the city or King of Prussia."

Greater Philadelphia Area
"The 'burbs' are more popular with residents who are married or have families or pets. These areas are easily driveable to HUP and there is plenty of open space and parking! In some towns, like Lansdowne, buying a home is very affordable."



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