Philadelphia: Where Important Things Happen

(Originally posted on Blogger site.)

Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve been making my way through the first season of an old TV-favorite of mine from childhood, War of the Worlds. In the episode that I just watched — episode 17 of the first season — there is a Super-Secret Conference, a great coming-together of national ambassadors from all of the world to share intelligence regarding the looming threat of alien invasion/colonization.

Well…to be accurate: national ambassadors from approximately 4% of the world. Specifically, the U.S., Soviet Union, China, Peru, Sri Lanka, Africa, and New Zealand. Why these precise countries and no others is really anyone’s guess. We really only get to hear the U.S. intelligence on the aliens anyway, providing a flimsy plot device for re-screening clips from previous episodes to illustrate pieces of information.

But the true hero of the episode is, indeed, the setting. When you need to shuttle in ambiguous foreign government representatives/scientists/agents and bring them together in some sort of abandoned, elementary school gymnasium to discuss the extinction of humankind, there’s really only one city that will do: Philly.


Shot on location! Or perhaps on stock footage! At any rate, off to a good start.

Weird bus

Top-secret government scientists are transported to the meetingĀ in special vehicles disguised as tiny, weird SEPTA buses. And where, you might ask, would be the spot in the city to host such an important meeting?

Man on phone

Actual dialogue: “Advocacy, we’ve discovered the meeting is takingĀ place in a part of South Philadelphia known as CHELTENHAM.” Hunh. OK. Did they even consult a map?


This is Cheltenham in Philadelphia (boundary marked in red). It’s far in the northern reaches of the city. (Note: Not in South Philadelphia at all.)

School sign

Oh, I see. Better make that “abandoned, secondary-school gymnasium” — cause I think that’s where they actually ended up by the looks of the meeting scene.

Surely, this is one more feather in our collective cap as Philly citizens. Maybe not as well-known as some of the locations in Twelve Monkeys or The Sixth Sense, but surely just as deserving of mention.


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