A Tale of Two Host Cities

April 13, 2016
A Tale of Two Host Cities


PHILADELPHIA, April 13, 2016 - While presidential candidates are going head-to-head in heated discourse, the great American cities of Philadelphia and Cleveland are pushing political banter aside to ready themselves for the national spotlight as they host the Democratic National Convention (July 25-28) and Republican National Convention (July 18-21), respectively. Cleveland's last political convention was the 1936 RNC; that same year, Philadelphia welcomed the DNC. The cities will be part of history again in 2016.

Both destinations have a loyal fan base; residents love their respective city's arts and culture, history, music and food, and visitors clamor over much of the same. Here's a look at how the two compare on many fronts.

City Population (2013):

  • Philadelphia - 1.6 million
  • Cleveland - 390,100


  • Philadelphia - 1682
  • Cleveland - 1796


  • Philadelphia - Philly, City of Brotherly Love, The Place That Loves You Back
  • Cleveland - Forest City, Rock and Roll Capital of the World, The Land, The CLE

Economic Base:

  • Philadelphia - By the early 20th century, Philadelphia, called the "Workshop of the World," was the driving force behind the Industrial Revolution. Today's industry landscape looks much different: "Eds and meds" ranks as the city's top industry, and leisure and hospitality ranks fifth.
  • Cleveland - Built by early 20th century industrial entrepreneurs in the steel and manufacturing sectors, Cleveland is now an advanced manufacturing powerhouse, with productivity increasing 92% from 1999 to 2015. Entrepreneurs are playing a significant role in the resurging economy, expanding in health-tech, high-tech sectors from flexible electronics to health care to biomedical engineering. The city is also a health care hub with more than 60 hospitals, including the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals.


  • Philadelphia - Lonely Planet ranked the city as the best place to visit in the United States in 2016.
  • Cleveland - CNN named Cleveland one of its "16 Intriguing Things to See and Do in 2016" while the city is the only U.S. destination on FoxNews.com's "10 under-the-radar destinations for 2016."

Quakers vs. Shakers:

  • Philadelphia - Finding religious freedom in William Penn's colony, a pacifist sect of Christians called Quakers settled and grew in and around Philadelphia, contributing greatly to civic and philanthropic life.
  • Cleveland - After splitting from the Quakers in England, the "Shaking Quakers" (so known for their ecstatic movement during worship services), or "Shakers," moved from New York to Ohio and other states where they led austere lives, practiced celibacy and set trends with their simple furniture and crafts. Cleveland suburb Shaker Heights was named for them.

Famous American Firsts:

  • Philadelphia - As the first U.S. capital and the site where the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Philadelphia claims these firsts for the public good: first meeting of Congress, public school, hospital, flag, newspaper, bank, free lending library, university, postal route, volunteer fire company, law school, stock exchange, U.S. Mint.
  • Cleveland - Cleveland is the home to innovative firsts: the first electric streetlight, electric streetcar, electric traffic signal and rapid transit system from the airport to downtown. Pop culture firsts include: first rock and roll concert, "Superman" comic, Life Savers candies and broadcast of a "Monday Night Football" game, which aired from Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Cleveland residents also elected the first African-American mayor, Carl Stokes.

History Of Political Conventions:

  • Philadelphia - Independence Hall housed the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Between 1848 and 2012, the city hosted one-quarter of the major national party conventions-most notably, the first convention of the new Republican Party in 1856; the Republican, Progressive and Democratic conventions in 1948, when Southern Democrats formed the "Dixiecrats;" and most recently, the Republican National Convention in 2000.
  • Cleveland - This year marks the third Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Previous conventions were hosted in the Cleveland Public Auditorium in 1924 and 1936. The 1924 convention delivered general election winner Calvin Coolidge.

Convention Venues:

  • Philadelphia - South Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center, the main DNC venue, is home to the Philadelphia 76ers and the Philadelphia Flyers. Spillover events and PoliticalFest will take place in Center City's Pennsylvania Convention Center, which underwent a major expansion in 2011 that increased total capacity to two million square feet, making it one of the country's largest convention facilities.
  • Cleveland - Quicken Loans Arena, "The Q," will serve as the main convention venue. It is the third-largest arena in the NBA, seating more than 20,500 people and home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lake Erie Monsters and Cleveland Gladiators. The FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland, which opened in 2013 and features unsurpassed technology, will house the media center for the convention.

Downtown Hotels:

  • Philadelphia - In the past four years, eight Center City Philadelphia hotels have opened, renovated or rebranded, with eight more projected to open by the end of 2017. Total downtown hotel rooms: 43 hotels with 11,500 rooms.
  • Cleveland - By the end of 2016, Cleveland will have added six new downtown hotels in four years. Prior to the convention, the 600-room Hilton Cleveland Downtown, the Drury Plaza Hotel and the Kimpton Schofield Hotel will open. These properties bring Downtown Cleveland's total to 18 hotels and nearly 5,000 rooms.

Top Attractions:

  • Philadelphia - Independence National Historical Park (Independence Hall, Liberty Bell Center, The President's House, National Constitution Center, National Museum of American Jewish History), Philadelphia Museum of Art and Rocky steps, Valley Forge National Historical Park
  • Cleveland - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Playhouse Square, The Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Metroparks, A Christmas Story House, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland History Center

Major Musical History & Attractions:

  • Philadelphia - Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff created the soulful "Sound of Philadelphia" in the early 1970s; a marker shows where their studios stood for more than 30 years. Another historical marker notes the location where Dick Clark broadcast "American Bandstand."
  • Cleveland - DJ Alan Freed first coined the phrase "rock and roll" here in 1952, so it is appropriate that the world's only Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum calls the city home. The Cleveland Orchestra, one of the most acclaimed performing ensembles in the world, plays seasonally at Severance Hall in University Circle and has residencies in Vienna, Miami, at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York and at the Lucerne Festival.

Arts & Culture:

  • Philadelphia - The grand Benjamin Franklin Parkway is lined with the world-renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation, Rodin Museum and other institutions. Philadelphia is known as the "Mural Capital of the World," thanks for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program's 3,800 creations.
  • Cleveland - Playhouse Square is the country's largest performing arts center outside of New York with nine theaters in a one-block radius. University Circle is home to the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the always free Cleveland Museum of Art, which features 900 pieces of artwork on display in 16,000-square-feet of renovated space.

Classic Food:

  • Philadelphia - Almost no one leaves Philly without sampling a cheesesteak, roast pork sandwich or South Philadelphia's Italian restaurants, where red sauce is goes by "gravy."
  • Cleveland - Eastern European cuisine-including pierogis, stuffed cabbage and the Polish Boy-is the "must-have" for any visitor to Cleveland.

Contemporary Restaurant Scene:

  • Philadelphia - Four words might best describe Philadelphia's current food scene: alfresco, BYOB, Passyunk and Fishtown. The city's first restaurant with sidewalk seating opened in 1998; today, Philly resembles a European city, with tables and chairs outside of almost every eatery. Because local liquor licenses can be hard to come by (expensive, time-consuming) and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania controls all in-state liquor sales, BYOBing is a way of life in Philadelphia. Two of the hottest restaurant hubs are vibrant neighborhoods outside of Center City: Fishtown in the north and East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia.
  • Cleveland - Ranked number seven on Travel & Leisure's list of "America's Best Cities for Foodies," Cleveland's food scene is booming with restaurants like Lola, from Iron Chef and "The Chew" host Michael Symon, and Greenhouse Tavern, from James Beard Award recipient Jonathon Sawyer. Great Lakes Brewing Company, Platform Beer Co. and Market Garden Brewery have brought Cleveland to the forefront of the national beer scene. Restaurant hotspots include E. 4th Street and the Ohio City and Tremont neighborhoods.

Food Markets:

  • Philadelphia - Reading Terminal Market, established in 1892, is the nation's oldest continuously operating indoor market, while the Italian Market is its oldest and largest working outdoor market. Seasonal outdoor farmers' markets-such as the Headhouse Farmers' Market beneath the historic Headhouse Shambles at Headhouse Square-draw local food devotees.
  • Cleveland - The West Side Market continues to flourish after 104 years in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood. One of the first indoor public markets in the country, the market supports more than 100 food vendors and is the go-to for many chefs. Heinen's Fine Foods in Downtown Cleveland opened in 2015 in the century-old, iconic Cleveland Trust rotunda, with famous murals by Francis David Millet and a Tiffany stained-glass dome ceiling.

Locally Born Celebs:

  • Philadelphia - Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlin, Bradley Cooper, Will Smith, Frankie Avalon, Noam Chomsky, Kevin Hart, Kevin Bacon, Patti LaBelle, Grace Kelly, Billie Holliday, Jill Scott, Amir "Questlove" Thompson
  • Cleveland -Arsenio Hall, Cy Young, Don King, Don Shula, Drew Carey, George Steinbrenner III, Halle Berry, James Garfield, LeBron James, Margaret Hamilton, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Michael Symon, Molly Shannon, Paul Newman, Patricia Heaton, Toni Morrison, Tim Conway, Tracy Chapman, Monica Potter.


VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region's official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia's image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia's official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.


Destination Cleveland is Cleveland's convention and visitors bureau. This private non-profit organization's mission is to drive economic impact and stimulate community vitality for Greater Cleveland through leisure and business travel. Cleveland welcomes nearly 17 million visitors annually. For more information, visit www.thisiscleveland.com.

Note to Editors: For high-resolution photos of Greater Philadelphia, visit the photo gallery of visitphilly.com/pressroom. For high-resolution photos of Cleveland, visit the photo gallery of thisiscleveland.com/media-gallery.


Cara Schneider
(215) 599-0789, cara@visitphilly.com

Jackie Spencer
(216) 875-6626, jspencer@destinationcle.org

Tweet It: Forget the politics. Put the banter aside. @visitphilly and @thecle find common ground, share the spotlight. http://vstphl.ly/1LGQih7

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