| June 22, 2015 | People
With a New York Times mention as one of the best travel destinations in the world, a visit from the pope in September, and the Democratic National Convention booked for 2016, it seems that all eyes are on Philadelphia. And we are giving everyone plenty to look at, thanks to an expanding population, reenergized neighborhoods, and countless urban development projects furnishing new restaurants, shops, and attractions. But no matter what the tourism headlines or housing prices are, a city is only as great as its people, and the seven Philadelphians featured here highlight some of our best and brightest: athletes, trendsetters, newscasters, business innovators, and community leaders. Each divulges tried-and-true finds and favorites about town, plus beloved Philly-centric songs, movies, and sports figures (three years running, Allen Iverson remains one of the top choices). Look to their distinctive tastes (and our comprehensive guide to Philadelphia) for your best year yet.
Sure, she’s an international supermodel who’s graced the cover of Glamour and frolicked in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and an actress who’s flown high in The Aviator. But Josie Maran is also a cosmetics mogul and QVC superstar, selling millions of products from her natural Josie Maran Cosmetics line to legions of everyday women. Despite the breadth of her success, Maran is most at home at her 400-acre farm in Newtown Square, where she relishes being a mother and a wife.
Philly on film: Up Close and Personal with Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Hometown actress: Tina Fey. Funny. Beautiful. Authentic.
Local athlete: Allen Iverson. I played basketball my whole life and was small and scrappy like him! I got to hang with him one time, and he was such an interesting and thoughtful cat.
Remarkable landmark: Independence Hall. The idea of so many visionaries in one place birthing such a grand vision makes it a very inspiring place.
Philly music act: I grew up listening to The Roots and had no idea they were from Philly until I moved here.
Best-kept city secret: Wyebrook Farm for a perfect Saturday afternoon of music and farm-fresh food.
Philly service on speed dial: Zenhaling for bodywork and meditation. It’s changed my life.
Famous Philadelphian you’d most like to have dinner with: Pope Francis. Okay, so he’s not from Philly, but he will be in Philly soon. Does that count?
Summer event you’re most excited for: Almost every night, I throw a sunset dinner party outside with the fireflies.
Five years from now, Philly will… Still be my second home.
Vittoria Woodill can not only get you home from work as fast as possible (as she gives the traffic lowdown every afternoon on Eyewitness News), she can also help you look fashion-forward all the while. This former Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader and competitive cheerleading coach has turned her love of fashion into a passion project with Polished for Pennies, her style and lifestyle blog, which has been featured on ABC’s The Revolution with style expert Tim Gunn and on queenlatifah.com.
Local athlete: Brian Dawkins. Every time he crawled out of the tunnel, I got the chills, and I’ll never forget that feeling of Philly pride and passion.
Favorite restaurant: Radicchio Café or Santucci’s pizza, off of Woodhaven Road. Best-kept city secret: We have so many awesome thrift shops. I found a $10 Chanel suit once!
Famous Philadelphian you’d most like to have dinner with: Grace Kelly. I’d just want to admire her in person—in a non-creepy way.
On your Philly bucket list: Maybe attempt to run back and forth over the Ben Franklin Bridge—without stopping this time.
What inspires you about Philly: Our neighborhoods are jam-packed with hardworking people who would give you the shirt off their back without thinking. It’s the good in this city that inspires me.
A perfect day in Philly is… Driving along Kelly Drive on a gorgeous summer day. Then walking around the Barnes, enjoying some crudo pizza at Pizzeria Vetri, and shopping on Third Street.
Summer event you’re most excited for: The pope coming to Philly. Epic.
Known for his perennial congeniality and mastery of delivering news to the masses, veteran CBS newscaster Ukee Washington has spent the last 19 years anchoring the Channel 3 news desk, after first spending 10 years as its sports anchor. During his tenure, he’s covered some of Philly’s brightest moments (the Phillies World Series celebration parade, in 2008) and darkest hours (Superstorm Sandy, in 2012). Washington was recently inducted into the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Local athlete: I met Charles Barkley [during] his second year in the league and my first year of working in Philadelphia television. We hit if off right away, especially since I played ball in Richmond.
Hometown actors: Will Smith and Bradley Cooper. I’m also very fond of Maria Bello and Jill Scott. Whenever I interview them, the conversation always comes back to growing up in Philly.
Philly on film: All of the Rocky films. I saw the first one as a freshman at the University of Richmond and went back to my dorm room with my chest pumped up. [I was so] proud to be from Philly!
Famous Philadelphian you’d most like to have dinner with: I’m a huge music fan, so I would have to say Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.
Remarkable landmark: My given name is Ulysses, which [recalls] Greek mythology. As a kid, there was something about the Art Museum that reminded me of Mount Olympus—it only took one school trip for me to fall in love with that building.
Biggest misperception about Philly: That our sports fans are unruly—we are passionate and knowledgeable.
Peek behind the curtains at Spruce Street Harbor Park, the PHS beer garden, Morgan’s Pier, and the new FringeArts building and you’ll find landscape architect David Fierabend, the innovative mastermind behind Philly’s notable new additions. A devoted student of landscape architecture and garden design for over two decades, Fierabend has led his award-winning Groundswell design firm to transform some of the city’s most forgotten spots into its most beloved.
Local athlete: What says “baseball icon” better than Mike Schmidt leading the lineup of my childhood Topps cards?
Favorite restaurant: Talula’s Garden. It feels like home. Remarkable landmark: The Ben Franklin Bridge. I can see it from my Northern Liberties home.
Best-kept city secret: A great little garden at the historical Old Swedes Church in Queen Village.
Famous Philadelphian you’d most like to have dinner with: William Penn. I share his love for green space.
On your Philly bucket list: I ran the half marathon a couple of years ago, so the full 26.2 miles is on my list.
What inspires you about Philly? The way the loyalty and traditions of longtime residents dovetail with newcomers’ energy and openness to possibility. Five years from now, Philly will… Be a textbook [example] for great public spaces.
She may be the wife of the mayor, but Lisa Nutter is a true force all unto herself. Drawing on her experience in education, human services, and arts and culture, she helms the nonprofit youth development organization Philadelphia Academies Inc., which focuses on building learning communities in the city’s public schools to ultimately prepare students for the job market and post-secondary education. And don’t be surprised if you see her fly by on Kelly Drive—she is a competitive cyclist preparing for the 2015 USA Cycling Masters Track National Championships.
Philly on film: In Her Shoes.
Local athletes: All of the Taney Dragons.
Remarkable landmark: Strawberry Mansion Bridge. It connects West Park to Strawberry Mansion and East Park, two neighborhoods that I’ve spent much of my life roaming and enjoying.
Philly music act: The Roots.
Best-kept city secret: The gazebo on Lemon Hill.
Famous Philadelphians you’d most like to have dinner with: Richardson Dilworth and Lee Daniels. They’re both boundary pushers, and the contours of their lives would have to be the source of great dinner table story telling.
First place you tell visitors to check out: The City Hall tour is a must because of the building’s history and architectural details.
A perfect day in Philly is… When our young people succeed and do amazing things; so, every day.
Biggest misperception about Philly: That we all eat cheesesteaks and like to talk about cheesesteaks.
Summer event you’re most excited for: The Fourth of July Wawa Welcome America! celebrations— music, food, family, friends, and fun.
As a Canadian expat, Philadelphia Flyers forward Ryan White is still getting to know his adopted hometown of just over a year. But he’s covered the essentials in the form of historic landmarks, local sports legends, and cheesesteaks. Following a late start to his first season with the Flyers due to an injury, White was one of the team’s breakout stars.
Local athlete: Fletcher Cox. He’s just a great player.
Philly on film: I watched the Rocky movies growing up. And Invincible, about Vince Papale, whom I got to meet recently.
Famous Philadelphian you’d most like to have dinner with: Kevin Hart. I laugh at anything he’s in.
On your Philly bucket list: Run the Art Museum steps. That’s probably something I should get out of the way.
Favorite restaurant: Buddakan. A couple of the guys on the team recommended it. I’m kind of embarrassed at how much I order every time I go.
Hometown actor: David Boreanaz. I enjoy the show Bones and he’s a huge Flyers fan, so it’s cool to see him around the arena.
First place you tell visitors to check out: Everyone who has come to see me from back home asks where to get a cheesesteak. I always send them to Geno’s. It’s cool to go down there and take in the whole atmosphere when you get a sandwich.
Since first creating his eponymous jewelry line back in 1977, Steven Lagos has become one of Philly’s treasured sons. Known for his iconic sterling silver pieces with caviar-like beading and accented with 18k gold, semiprecious stones, or diamonds, his craftsmanship and eye for detail have helped him become one of the world’s most successful and lauded jewelry designers. Today, his wares are in countries all over the world, but he still runs his business from his office and studio in Old City—and his jewelbox of a store on Rittenhouse Row boasts the largest selection of Lagos in the world.
Philly on film: My favorite Philly movie is Philadelphia, with Tom Hanks, hands down.
Hometown actor: Tina Fey.
Favorite restaurant: Barclay Prime is such a special place. It is the perfect spot to sit, relax, and enjoy an amazing steak.
First place you tell visitors to check out: The Barnes Foundation is just incredible. I love to tell people about this hidden gem.
Remarkable landmark: The Art Museum.
What inspires you about Philly: Its history is immeasurable. Philly is truly the birthplace of a big idea.
Why you love Philly: The people have an energy that is magnetic. This inspires me when I design new collections. I feel such a sense of true heart in Philadelphia. I love it.
photography by daryl peveto