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Hometown: Philadelphia

We all know the saying “Home is where the heart is”, but NCI has many homes. From one side of the county to the other, the employees, friends and family of NCI are rooted far and wide. This blog series will introduce us to many hometowns of Network Connections employees, showcasing what they love about them and how they live there. Our first hometown is Philadelphia. Philly, as most call it, is the largest city in Pennsylvania, and is known for its rich history. I interviewed President Brian Watterson and Greg Davis, Senior Manager of Service Operations, for their take on the iconic city.

Where do you live, and how long have you lived there?

Brian: Warminster, which is a Philadelphia suburb.  Although most people think of me as a Western PA guy, I am one of the few NCI peeps who was actually born within Philly’s city limits.  So born here, grew up in Western PA, moved back here in 1992, and now, my wife (Jessica) and I live a PA Turnpike life.  We live in both ends of the state.

Greg: I moved to Cheltenham, a suburb bordering Philly about 9 months ago.  I’ve lived in the Greater Philadelphia area for 13 years.

What is your favorite thing to show visitors to your town?

B: Without a doubt, first night in town, the Philly Cheesesteak epicenter, the intersection between Pat’s and Gino’s on Passyunk Avenue.  Yes, yes, yes, there are better cheesesteaks throughout the Delaware Valley, but nothing says Philly like this little stretch of asphalt and neon.

G: I’m still discovering a lot about where I currently live actually!  There is a lot of beautiful parks nearby, and a few good food places.  If I could do anything, I would take them to an Eagles game or a concert, nothing quite like either.  Independence Hall and all of Old City is amazing and full of history, so that would probably be the FIRST thing, we could go to the game at night!

What is a fun fact about your hometown?

B: One of my favorite barroom fun facts is this: Broad Street, or Route 611, has the world’s longest stretch of city street that is perfectly straight (to the human eye).  Also, since Jess and I are big thriller/horror buffs, this city and its surrounding neighborhoods is chalk full of M. Night Shyamalan trivia and factoids.  Another fun fact is the origin of the name “Philadelphia Cream Cheese”.  Back in the day, Philly was associated with fancy lifestyle and associated pleasures.  So, when cream cheese was popularized in America, it was branded “Philadelphia Style” to suggest fanciness.  Thanks, Drunk History!

G: Philadelphia has been the setting for multiple video games!  It’s a weird thing to think about, but it’s true!  The game Heavy Rain takes place in Philly, although it’s very subtle and isn’t mentioned outright in the game.

What is your town famous for or known for?

B: Wow.  Cheesesteaks, Rocky movies, no parking, and short-tempered sports fans.  Good pizza, actually, all kinds of really good food and beer.  Killer pretzels and bagels.  Oh, yeah, the other stuff, like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, etc. 

G: Philadelphia is famous for being the birthplace of America.  The first and second continental congresses were held in Philadelphia, and just about every important decision regarding the formation of the United States of America took place here.

Where is your favorite place in town?

B: I’d say Old Towne.  It’s a great section for a couple or some friends to hang out.  Lots of historic buildings, parks, and cemeteries, and plenty of cool bars and restaurants.  The Plough and the Stars is a regular haunt for Jess and I.

G: Lincoln Financial Field.

Is anyone famous from your hometown?

B: So, Philly, yeah.  Ben Franklin (although not born here) and a bunch of founding fathers.  Larry Fine, Questlove, Hall and Oates, M. Night, P!nk, Kevin Bacon, Tina Fey, Will Smith, just to name a few.  Not sure about famous Warminsterians.  I think a boxer or two,…oh yeah, and Greg Davis’s aunt, I think.    

G: Reggie Jackson is specifically from where I currently live in Cheltenham, and there are so many people from Philadelphia that are famous, including Greg Davis- star of many Network Connections Films (come to think of it, he’s from Cheltenham too, but he always says Philly for simplicity’s sake in interviews)

Are there any annual events or festivals held in your town?

B: An awesome German style Christmas village/market during the holidays.

G: Philadelphia is home to a staggering amount of festivals.  One that gets a lot of press in recent years is the Made in America festival.

Where is your favorite place to eat?

B: Augusto’s or Ralph’s for Italian.  Na Brasa for Brazilian.  Chickie’s and Pete’s for their unique pub style seafood.

G: The Greater Philadelphia area has almost too many places to list when it comes to eating!  My current favorite would actually be an Indian restaurant called “Masala Zone” within walking distance of my old home in Horsham.  In addition to the great food, you can sing “Highway to Masala Zone” to the tune of “Highway to the Danger Zone”, which instantly enhances everything.

What is your favorite town attraction?

B: Independence Park.  Did you know that NCI installed fiberoptic cabling through the historic Botanical Garden?

G: Independence Hall is always great to see- it’s kind of staggering to realize that you’re standing where so much history happened.

What do you think is the most interesting thing about your town?

B: The South Philly, Italian legacy.  You can still feel it in the air. 

G: Philadelphia has 7.2 acres of park land per 1000 residents!

If you had to move, what would you miss most about your town?

B: Without a doubt, the walks through Old Towne with Jessica. 

G: I would miss the people and the feel of the town.  It doesn’t always feel that different when you’re here, but when I’m away, I keenly feel that things are just different. 

Kristen Pierce

Kristen Pierce