Center City, Philadelphia

We were fifteen years old that summer and had outgrown the suburban town where we lived. Everything my friends and I yearned for we found in the seedy downtown core of Philadelphia’s Center City, which was as exotic to us as Baghdad. In Center City we could smoke. We could look at dirty magazines. We weren’t fifteen-year-old kids from the ’burbs in blue jeans and madras shirts in Center City. We didn’t blend in. We were cool. The subterranean world of the station at the Penn Center Complex was our base. Its floors and walls were tiled and so dirty the piss and graffiti didn’t show, so full of echoes you were never alone.

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