Dear Vogue: If you’re going to highlight Philly, please do the work and get it right

There were at least five factual errors in the fashion mag’s recent feature about the city.

A fantasy-esque but very real scene from this year's Philadelphia Flower Show in FDR Park

A fantasy-esque but very real scene from this year's Philadelphia Flower Show in FDR Park

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
beatriceforman2

Update, Aug 8: One article, plenty of Twitter antagonization, and an unanswered email about reporting errors later, Vogue has listened … kind of? After this article was published, Billy Penn reached out to Vogue directly with a pitch: correct the inaccuracies, and let us help you write a revamped guide to Philly.

Well, only one of those things happened. Vogue has since updated their insider’s guide to Philly to remove any mention of Frank Gehry or two since-closed boutiques, but has yet to issue a formalized correction.


Hey Vogue,

Are you new here? Because I’m not — and your “insider’s guide” to Philly sounds like it came from an outsider who thought they were too posh to do much more than glance around.

The itinerary is rife with inaccuracies. Beyond that, you’ve curated a stilted version of Philly that takes its cue from overly-filtered travel porn of Rittenhouse Square rowhomes.

Yes, one can stay at the Center City Four Seasons, buy an overpriced maxi skirt at Boyds, and eat at a Mike Solomonov restaurant for every meal. And probably have a great time.

Or you could actually get to know us, and discover Philly isn’t just about “aggressive sports fandom and proclivity toward a steak ‘whiz wit’.” We’re a city of too-honest neighbors, the kind that share aggression, gossip, and oversized Sunday dinners with equal zest. We commiserate over beat-up robots, swim in dumpster pools, turn construction zones into roller-discos, and serve up some of the best birria tacos. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’d love to show you around sometime, if you ever find a no-bullshit return trip is in order. But did you ever actually visit in the first place? Because if you did, you’d know:

  • …that the Japanese tea and tchotchke shop Rikumo relocated from Walnut Street to the Main Line town of Ardmore sometime in 2020, now selling origami paper and statement earrings in the shadows of Suburban Square (i.e. an outdoor mall).
  • … that Old City’s Meadowsweet Mercantile is also reported to have closed its storefront, and most of Philly’s coolest young people are ordering their trendy prairie-wear online from Madewell and Reformation, anyway.
  • …that El Vez and El Rey are not interchangeable Mexican restaurants. A previous version of the article allegedly stated that the highly-public speakeasy (yes, this is an oxymoron) Ranstead Room was located in the back of El Vez, another Stephen Starr restaurant that has nothing of the sort. If you’re looking for a ~ secret ~ head to the back of El Rey, or maybe go somewhere more lowkey, like Chinatown’s Hop Sing Laundromat.
  • …that Frank Gehry didn’t design the entirety of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, whose current building opened a year before the famed architect was born. He designed a winding, staircase-landed wing of the museum that was unveiled to the public in 2021.
  • …and finally, that the lovely town of Wayne is not Philadelphia. You suggest that people visit a suburban garden nearly 40 minutes away when Bartram’s Garden and the trail-and-garden-filled expanse of Fairmount Park are well within city limits?

Look, I get it. Both of the guide’s authors appear to live in New York, and Amtrak tickets to make the trip 90 miles down can get pretty pricey. But I’m a New York transplant too, as are tons of other newfound Philadelphians. I fell in love with Philly because it’s not Vogue’s version of the Big Apple, or trying to be. There’s no Midtown gridlock or “Gossip Girl”-esque snobbery, and our influencers would rather be feral than famous.

Philly has both history and the kind of hedonism only big sandwiches and unbridled sports fandom can provide. And like a contestant on some bingeworthy Netflix dating show, we want everyone —  tourists, transplants, and the bridge-and-tunnel crowd — to see us for who we really are.

TL;DR: It’s great everyone’s started recognizing Philly as a worthy travel destination, but if you’re gonna keep my city’s name in your mouth, at least get it right.

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