So after I wrote about the possible origins of the term “Center City,” Philadelphians made me realize I made a poor choice of a word — one weighted with open interpretation — in the first two paragraphs.
That section is repeated here and since revised online:
The slip up was the verb “call,” which readers took to mean that is what everyone calls Center City in daily conversation. (The second paragraph now reads: “Instead, Philadelphians know it as Center City.”)
Readers of a certain age made sure that I knew that where they lived and grew up, they did not use Center City when referring to Philadelphia’s commercial, business, and civic core.
And this being Philly, there was no single agreed-upon term.
One reader — I am keeping names anonymous to spare them wrath of anyone who disagrees — recalled that while growing up in West Oak Lane, her mother “went in to ‘the city’ or ‘downtown’ to shop."
Another former West Oak Lane resident was adamant: "We always went ‘downtown!’ ” she wrote.
A former resident of the “Great Northeast” who now lives in the suburbs, said, “in the late 50’s and 60’s my parents and other adults would say they were going ‘in town’ to describe that they were going to Center City.”
A Center City resident originally from South Philly said, "we always referred to South Philly as Downtown. When we went to what is now Center City, we called it ‘going in town.’” The same reader also recalled that when he attended Central High School, classmates from the Northeast called Center City “downtown.” But, he asserted, “Downtown was, and will always be, South Philly.”
Another former South Philly resident affirmed the "in town” usage. “Now I live in Jersey and we just go to the city,” he added.
“We called it uptown,” said a woman from South Philadelphia who now lives in Jersey, and uses the term Center City now.
“I’m 60 years old, I’ve lived in Philadelphia all my life, I’m from North Philly, we’ve always called it downtown,” another reader wrote.
One reader who grew up in West Philadelphia, also called it “downtown.” But, she added, "My Italian neighbors would correct me often. They said ‘downtown’ was South Philadelphia where they visited their relatives every Sunday!"
So there you have it. Downtown (unless you’re from South Philly), uptown (occasionally), in town, and in the city seem to be among the conversational references to Center City, particularly its business, commercial and entertainment district.
Let the record be updated.