Albert Lee (Part 3 of 3)
Favorite Spot: Philadelphia, All of it.
Address: 12th and Arch
I am: I’m what you call “Philly homegrown.” Born and raised in the 215, I spend my days entertaining tourists and locals at the official visitor center of Philadelphia.
Years in Philly: 32
Current home: Chinatown
My Love Note: William Penn Jr. named this city Philadelphia and in the 5th largest city in the nation, I get to serve as the official welcome wagon. That’s right. We’re “those people.” The ones persuading tourists to get on duck boats and double decker bus tours. Pushing the masses on segways and taking over entire street corners so they can take their “Kodak moment.” We’re the experts letting them loose out into the City of Brotherly Love. With map in hand and camera in the other, we’ve gotten them on a Philly love fest.
To them I say, fire away.
I was born and raised in Philly’s Chinatown, my grade school, high school, home and hospital were no more than 3 blocks away from each other. Yep, I spent 17 years of my life in a quarter mile (College was five miles away.) I’ve worked for just about every tour company in the city and spend many a day pleading with general managers to get my guest into the new “it” restaurant at the time (being nice really helps). I’ve been at this game for close to 9 years now and still get inspired every time I see someone trotting down the street looking lost (that happens a lot here).
I won’t lie. Mispronunciations, misspellings and just plain ignorance can sure get under one’s skin but you always remind yourself that this is another opportunity to celebrate what we’re about.
We are not the sixth borough. We don’t have a Freedom Trail nor are we the “National Mall”. So what do I tell them? What do I say that inspires them to go crisscrossing through the streets to find whatever it is they are looking for?
We are the birthplace of Independence. Our bell stands as the cradle of freedom that proclaims liberty throughout the land. Our walls serve as the largest outdoor art gallery in the world. Our roast pork sandwich with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe is considered the best sandwich in America. Not too shabby.
But it goes much deeper than that. It’s helping them find a little BYO where that bottle of wine can best be enjoyed. It’s hearing them rave about all the rich mosaics that make up the Magic Gardens. It’s putting their lips to some local brews that they can’t wait to take home.
It’s meeting a young man from Memphis whose “Make a Wish” was to come to Philadelphia rather than Disney World because we had the Mütter Museum. Take that!
It’s the lesbian couple that tells me Philadelphia was never on their radar for a gay friendly place to live but now can’t possibly even imagine living anywhere else.
The city has millions of love notes that you submit just by living here. I just have the pleasure of reading them aloud.