Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is known as the birthplace of American democracy and referred to as the “City of Brotherly Love.” As the home to Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall, the site for this year’s Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference is rich in history. The seven GVSU PRSSA members who were fortunate enough to attend the conference from October 25-29 not only indulged in the city’s history, but it’s culture as well.
From the start of our stay, we were introduced to the history of Philadelphia through our temporary home, The Lowes Hotel. Located in the center of the city and in close vicinity to the historic district, the hotel had a history of it’s own as being recognized as the first skyscraper built in Philadelphia. Over 1,000 PRSSA students from across the country gathered at the hotel for the conference.
In between chapter development sessions and prominent speakers within the field, we were able to spend our downtime exploring the city. We walked to various restaurants within the area including Hard Rock Cafe and Green Eggs, a local favorite for brunch. In addition, we also made a couple trips to the Reading Terminal Market, home to lots of fresh food, delicious pastries and chocolate treats.
We were thrilled to be able to experience the conference with fellow PRSSA students in such a historic city, but our trip wouldn’t be complete without an iconic Philly cheese steak. We decided to make the experience as authentic as possible by engaging in the infamous battle between the two cheese steak heavyweights, Geno’s and Pat’s.
Situated on the corner of 9th Street and Passyunk in South Philly, Geno’s and Pat’s have been competing for the title of “Best Philly Cheese Steak” for almost 50 years. Pat’s, “The Original,” is acknowledged as inventing the sandwich in 1930, though when Geno’s opened across the street in 1966, Pat’s competition claimed they had perfected the Philly staple. The competitors both include rib-eye steak, melted cheese, and grilled onions in their sandwiches, with options for different types of cheese. The restaurants distinguish the locals from the tourists by having unique methods in ordering a sandwich. After we had the privilege of tasting a Philly cheese steak from Geno’s and Pat’s – the majority of our members made our vote. The winner: Pat’s!
We couldn’t leave Philadelphia without stopping by other infamous locations in the city. Just a short walk from our hotel, we went to LOVE Park to see the LOVE statue. We also stopped by Congress Hall where the United States Congress met from 1790-1800. Just across the street, we saw Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell – one of our nation’s most recognizable symbols of freedom that dates back to 1776 when it summoned citizens to the reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Attending the 2013 PRSSA National Conference not only allowed us to meet other PRSSA students from across the country and network with prominent professionals in the industry, but also indulge in the culture, history, and mouthwatering sandwiches that Philadelphia offers. I highly encourage PRSSA members to take advantage of the opportunities available by attending national conference. Next’s year’s conference will be held in our nation’s capital – Washington D.C.!

– Morgan Yingst