Boston and Philadelphia - not so different after all
The upcoming Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl faceoff has exacerbated a rivalry that for years has been relatively quiet - or at least ignored by most. Now that Bostonians have been reminded just how much Philadelphians annoy them - and vice versa - it's not all that pretty. Even real-life bald eagles and cream cheese are falling prey to the backlash.
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The upcoming Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl faceoff has exacerbated a rivalry that for years has been relatively quiet — or at least ignored by most.
Now that Bostonians have been reminded just how much Philadelphians annoy them — and vice versa — it's not all that pretty. Even real-life bald eagles and cream cheese are falling prey to the backlash.
But as Philadelphians cross their fingers for revenge for the 2005 Super Bowl, I'm here with a peace offering: Boston and Philadelphia aren't actually all that different.
(Disclaimer: I've lived in Boston for 4½ years, but I grew up in a South Jersey suburb of Philadelphia. It's been an athletic conflict for me, as of late, but I'm hoping to get away with just cheering for both teams next weekend as I do during the regular season.)
So here's my attempt at defending the city that Bostonians will be trash-talking until the big game, the city I consider my childhood home. It's not a plea to end the rivalry, just a request to appreciate all we have in common, too.
At least until Super Bowl Sunday. Then it's game on.
It starts at the very beginning of our country, the American Revolution. Boston and Philadelphia were both host to historical moments before and during the Revolutionary War.
In Boston, there are markings all along the Freedom Trail — the Bunker Hill Monument, Faneuil Hall, and the Old North Church just to kick off the list.
Then there's Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution were crafted.
"If any site can claim to be the nation's birthplace, this is it," the National Park Service writes about Philadelphia on its website.
Both cities also lay claim to Ben Franklin. Born in Boston, Franklin played a role in the history of publishing in both cities. In Boston, he apprenticed for his brother, who published The New England Courant.
After moving to Philadelphia as a teenager, he set up his own printing shop there and soon became an established publisher. He built up the Philadelphia Gazette, Philadelphia's second newspaper, and was "the first printer to propose a monthly magazine," according to the Library of Congress.
Including the 2005 Super Bowl, the Eagles and Patriots have paired off 13 times since 1973, according to a list compiled by The Football Database. The Patriots have won six of those 13 games, but lost in their most recent faceoff in December 2015.
Through the years, the teams have shared a handful of players, including current Eagles LeGarrette Blount and Chris Long, and current Patriots Patrick Chung, Dion Lewis, and Eric Rowe.
Outside of the NFL, the Phillies and Red Sox also have a shared history — in breaking curses.
For sports fans in New England, the "Curse of the Bambino" is a tale that spanned generations, the curse that is said to have rocked the Sox since Babe Ruth was traded from the team in 1919. The 2004 World Series changed the course of history for the Sox and gave Boston baseball fans a taste of sweet success.
In Philadelphia, the curse wasn't quite as lengthy, but for many, it was just as painful. The "Curse of Billy Penn" is said to have shut all professional teams in the city out of championships for several decades, starting in the 1980s, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
It was supposedly spurred on by the statue of Pennsylvania founder William Penn that sits on top of City Hall and was the tallest point in the city. There was a long-standing gentleman's agreement that no one would build higher than Penn's hat, but that came to an end in 1986, when the Liberty Place tower rose above the statue. The curse began.
In 2007, Comcast built its own skyscraper, stealing the title of tallest in the city, and put a four-inch Billy Penn statue on top, the Inquirer reported. The next year, the Phillies won the World Series.
Philadelphians are far from over the fear of that curse. In November, ironworkers at a new Comcast tower, which now holds the title for tallest in the city, rushed to place the statue in its rightful place to avoid messing up the Eagles' winning record, the Inquirer reported.
And for anyone who thinks the length of Philly's curse makes it less important than Boston's cursed past, just ask The New York Times' Upshot staff, who ranked the 13 most cursed sports cities in 2015. Philadelphia was ranked No. 7. Boston isn't listed.
Aversion to New York
Let's resolve this once and for all — North Jersey and South Jersey may as well be different states.
Exhibit A: If you're from North Jersey, New York sports teams are your home base. If you're from South Jersey, those teams are your enemy, your archrival, and everything you aim not to be.
Bostonians, if nothing else, take in your Philadelphia and South Jersey friends for the sake of a shared rivalry. At the end of the day, we can all agree on rooting against New York.
New England and the greater Philadelphia region are both renowned for their academics with dozens of public and private colleges located in each city.
When it comes to Ivy League colleges and universities, Boston technically has none, but New England has half of the eight schools: Harvard University in Cambridge; Brown University in Providence; Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.; and Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
Philadelphia has one, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University is also relatively close, about 45 miles northeast of the city.
The Boston and Philadephia regions are among 20 locations on the short list for Amazon's second headquarters, shining above the crowd of nearly 240 proposals. Amazon plans to make a final decision on the headquarters this year.
Both cities also put their names in the hat for the 2024 Olympics, from which they both later withdrew interest.
Felicia Gans can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.