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What It’s Like Living in University City, Philadelphia

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University City Overview

University City, or U-City as it is charmingly known by local residents, is home to Philadelphia’s most prestigious institutions of higher education, including University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.

A dense, lively, and diverse community, University City is nestled in West Philadelphia, just East of the Schuylkill River (pronounced skoo-kuhl) and a short 8-minute drive from Center City, or the heart of the Philadelphia metropolis.

U-City is generally bounded by 52nd Street to the west, Market Street and Powelton Ave. to the north, the curve of the river to the East, and University Ave. and Civic Center Blvd. to the south.

University City’s high concentrations of schools, scientific research, and technology have made it a beacon of opportunity for many around the world.

Offering residents a vibrant melting pot of intellect, people, and culture, University City is an ideal place to study, work, and live for professionals and students alike.

Hub of Higher Education & Research

Living up to its name, University City is a hub of higher education, as well as scientific research and medicine.

Within the bounds of University City inhabitants will find the campuses of some of the most notable colleges in the country, which include:

  • University of Pennsylvania – an elite member of the Ivy League schools, founded in 1740 with an estimated 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Largely considered America’s first university, UPenn’s graduate programs include Penn Veterinary, Penn Dental, Penn Nursing, and Penn School of Medicine.
  • Drexel University – a private global research university founded in 1891 and ranked in the top 100 Best Value Schools in the country specializes in health professions and related programs.
  • University of the Sciences in Philadelphia – one of the leading sciences and healthcare schools in the region, as well as one of the top pharmacy schools in the Philadelphia. 
University City houses the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel, and surrounding universities.
An aerial view of the University of Pennsylvania

Source: UPenn Free Flickr Photos

University City is additionally home to a large concentration of nationally recognized hospitals and global biomedical research facilities, such as:

  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – The first hospital dedicated to infant and child healthcare in the country, ranked one of the best providers of pediatrics by U.S. News. (Also referred to as “CHoP” by locals).   
  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania – a world-renowned clinical and research hospital, consistently ranked among the best in the country (commonly referred to as “HUP”).
  • Penn Presbyterian Medical Center – a general hospital credited for its early advances in coronary care, as well as its most recent work in robotic-assisted surgery.
  • VA Medical Center, Philadelphia – a member of the VA healthcare network, servicing veterans across southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
  • The Wistar Institute – the global leader in biomedical research in cancer, immunology, infectious diseases, as well as vaccine research and development.

The scholastic combination of institutions of higher learning and cutting-edge medical facilities have made University City attractive to high caliber students, researchers, PhDs, companies, and young working professionals.

More so, it has spurred the development of a thriving ecosystem of state-of-the-art laboratories (like the David Goddard Laboratories), biomedical research institutes, collaborative spaces and incubators.

Living in University City, one cannot help but sense a buzz of discovery, opportunity, and excitement in the air.

Life At Your Fingertips

University City residents will never find themselves asking, “what is there to do around Upenn”.

University City is the vibrant home of multiple indoor and outdoor attractions that are a destination for local residents as well as international visitors.

  • Art: Sprinkled throughout University City, art enthusiasts will find a healthy selection of high-end private art galleries, museums, and the Institute of Contemporary art, housed on the UPenn campus. Those willing to make the quick jaunt over the Spring Garden Bridge, will the encounter the Philadelphia Museum of Art, displaying exhibits from around the world.
University City provides residents quick, convenient access to local art and cultural exhibits.
UPenn students visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Source: Source: UPenn Free Flickr Photos

  • Green Space: Outdoor enthusiasts will take delight in the cornucopia of public parks and green spaces available for relaxation, exercise, and play. Along its banks, the Schuylkill River offers multiple paths for runners that provide spectacular views. Towards 30th and Market, you will find Drexel Square, a newly created 1.3-acre community park with a sprawling law, planted trees and breathtaking perennials. Even, throughout the city, residents will find an interspersing of pocket parks, outdoor athletic fields, and collegiate quads and campuses with lush landscapes.
  • The First Zoo in The U.S.: Working professionals and families seeking a change of scenery and a sense of adventure will also find the Philadelphia Zoo a quick 10-minute drive away. Open daily, the Philadelphia Zoo was the first in the country, and houses over 1,300 rare and endangered animal species. Spread over 42-acres of Victoria gardens and historical architecture, visiting the zoon can feel more like a step back in time and a source of both entertainment and relaxation.
  • Events Throughout the Year: Throughout the year, residents can also expect to be kept busy with a series of outdoor and indoor programming. Open air concerts, free movie showings in Clark Park, and pop-up performances by local community organizations. Additionally, U-City hosts several farmer’s markets, offering local and organic produce. The largest and most popular in all of Philadelphia takes place at the Clark Park Farmers’ Market, which offers an assortment of seasonal fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats and more offered by dozens of local farmers all year round.
  • A Lively Food Scene: Food lies at the center of Philadelphia culture, and the food scene in University City does not disappoint. Packed within its 2.4 mile enclave, University City boasts over 285 restaurants with a tasty array of international fare fit to satisfy anyone’s palette or pocket book.  Voted “the city’s best food neighborhood” by PhillyMag.com, University City residents can grab local IPAs from craft breweries, vegan Philly cheesesteaks from Vegan-ish; Argentinian empanadas from Jezebel’s Café; Ethiopian fare from Dahlak; Southern style happy hour treats from Booker’s Restaurant & Bar; or the famed artisan bread and authentic French baked goods from Four Worlds Bakery. When it comes to food, you name it and University City probably has it.

Far from a sleepy college town, University City is a bustling urban community uniquely designed to make residents feel at home.

Best in Class Transportation

University City offers best in class transportation, consistently rated by WalkScore.com as a paradise for walking, biking and mass transit. 

Throughout the neighborhood, you will find roughly 25 miles of dedicated bike lanes.

It’s tree-lined streets and wide sidewalks make University City one the most pedestrian friendly in all of Philadelphia.

UPenn and Drexel students opting to ditch the car, have access to more than 70 vehicles available for rent by the hour offered by Philly Car Share and global car sharing company, ZipCar.

Accessible by two interstate highways, even those with cars will find reaching their destination outside of University City convenient.

Additionally, U-City is home to the 30th Street Station, transporting millions of bus, commuter rail, local subway, and interstate Amtrak passengers. Considered the third-busiest rail station in the U.S. the 30th Street Station provides University City students and residents access to destinations like New Jersey, Chicago, Miami, Manhattan, Boston, and Buffalo.

Furthermore, the local region through the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) offers both bus and regional rail options to access neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia, as well as bus and trolley services within University City itself.

The LUCY® shuttle, for example, is operated by SEPTA and the University City District (a non-profit neighborhood organization), looping riders throughout University City’s different neighborhoods every 5 to 30 minutes.

Overall, living an urban life as graduate student or working professional is truly a breeze, with the plethora of options available in University City.

Close to Center City

No matter your mode of transportation, University City is within close proximity to Center City, or the heart of the Philadelphia metropolis.

Within U-City there are multiple buses, subways, and train routes available to whisk passengers into Center City, in as little as 15-minutes.

Furthermore, inhabitants opting for a more storied experience, can embark on a leisurely 30-minute stroll along Market Street and find themselves plunged back into time Liberty Bell.

Unlike, its collegiate town counterparts in many other parts of the country, University City excels in conveniently connecting residents to local communities offers the most walkable and convenient transportation, enough to rival certain parts of New York City.

Mini-Cities within the City

Most unique to University City is within its folds, are individual micro districts, each with their own distinct characteristics.

  • Powelton Village – the northernmost enclave of University City is remarked for its green foliage, colorful murals, diverse businesses and Victorian architecture. Set further away from the heart of University City, Powelton Village offers a more suburban atmosphere.
  • West Powelton – drawn to its warehouses and buildings, artists, creatives, and academics alike take claim to West Powelton. There you will find bars, restaurants, fair trade coffee shops, this area is edgy, artsy, and exudes hipster vibes. 
  • Cedar Park & Spruce Hill – considered the most diverse areas of University City, Cedar Park gives off serious Bohemian vibes. Grand historical homes on tree lined streets running parallel with multicultural businesses and restaurants, make this area the heart of University City.
  • Garden Court – a mostly residential area, most of which has been largely place on the National Register of Historic Places. Unlike its counterparts, few shops dots its landscape, offering a welcome retreat for some amid the city.
  • Squirrel Hill – located furthest south in University City, Squirrel Hill borders West Philly and is more characterized by 3-story red brick homes and buildings, and suburban style retail centers.
  • Walnut Hill – located in the northwestern most parts of University City, Walnut Hill is also a mostly residential neighborhood with an intermix of suburban style retail, and 2 and 3-story rowhomes and pre-war garden style apartments.

Overall, when it comes to University City off campus housing for students and working professionals, there are a variety of options from shared housing in 19th century Victorian homes to a high rise luxury apartment.

Ready to Live in University City?

If you’re excited by the idea of moving to University City and are looking to get the best value check out: www.universitycitylofts.com. Located in West Powelton and quick walk to Penn Presbyterian Hospital, nowhere, in the city will you find luxury modern apartments, at the price offered.

Designed with building an intimate community in mind, the University City Lofts offer a unique array of carefully considered amenities, such as a roof deck for yoga and meditation, a study lounge,

Most tenants of the University City lofts are graduate level students, fellows, medical residents, and PhD candidates, and the community is catered to fostering peace and tranquility.

With their needs in mind, each room is outfitted with stainless steel appliance, modern countertops, bathtubs for ultimate relaxation, and in unit wash and dryers.

Book a tour at www.universitycitylofts.com today!

University City Lofts provides housing for University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University graduate students and professionals
An open floor concept in University City Lofts housing.

Source:www.universitycitylofts.com