On October 28, the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center invited everyone to take a picture of anything they wished within the city limits as part of the second annual Philly Photo Day. Now the nearly 900 photos, on display through November 26, overflow from the walls of PPAC into the Nexus space just down the hall.

If Woody Allen films are also love letters to New York, then the photos currently at the Crane Building serve as Philadelphia’s equivalent. Like a near-death montage of city moments, the almost overwhelming flashes of places and people take you on a rapid-fire scavenger hunt through familiar and unfamiliar territory alike.

As distant relatives fly in to the city for Thanksgiving, the soon-to-close exhibition becomes particularly poignant. Touring through the inevitable cheese steak storefronts, unexpected perspectives on cultural landmarks placed on the eerie line between known and unknown, and even the occasional whimsical shots of squirrels and plastic skulls, reasserts the city as more than just home to 1.5 million people. Through the eyes of its inhabitants, Philadelphia is a living story, rewritten fresh every day.

The show closes November 26, so be sure to take a break between family festivities to reclaim a bit of urban magic.

Sarah R. Bloom

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