News

Vendor City Guide: Philadelphia

Street secrets revealed by the people who know them best. This week we head to Philadelphia with One Step Away vendor Sylvia Williams

Our guide this week: South Philadelphia born and raised, Sylvia Williams, 57, spends her days selling One Step Away, a street paper based in one of the most historically significant cities in the US. “When I started doing it, I liked it a lot,” she says. “It really helps me. It keeps me busy, hopeful, powerful, and stress free – it keeps me calm.”

Why I like living in Philadelphia 

Everything is right here

As soon as you walk out of your door there is something there for you to do. Reading Terminal Market is the best place to go. That’s where I sell my homeless paper. I meet a lot of people from across the world. They might have struggles with homelessness or addiction. The struggle is real right now. The food stamps are about to be cut. Reading Terminal Market is free to explore and inexpensive if you want something to eat.

I also like to go to the waterfront. You can look out of the windows and see the water. You can window-shop around there too. You can meet people and talk to people.

My favourite cafe/restaurant  

Ruby Tuesday

The all-you-can-eat buffet at Ruby Tuesday is my favourite. Also, at Reading Terminal Market, you can get any food you want. You can get a drink, watch the games, everything you desire is there.

Everyone should visit 

The Rocky Steps off Benjamin Franklin Parkway

You can take pictures there, run up and down the steps and see the statue of Sylvester Stallone from the Rocky movies. There are a lot of places down there at The Parkway. The steps lead up to the Art Museum, the Roman Catholic Church is right there too as well as the Rodin Museum. The Parkway will have parties, festivals, and concerts throughout the year, including fireworks during the Fourth of July. 

Untitled-1

To escape city life 

South Philly and the Poconos

I ride the city bikes from Center City to South Philly, which is where I come from. If I get tired, I’ll put the bike on the bus for the rest of the way. It is relaxing, peaceful. Or people can visit the Poconos – go gambling, see a show and there’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. My favourite time of year is the summer because you don’t have to wear heavy clothes. I can flex and sell the paper. It is nice out, and there are a lot of people out and about.

Only locals know about 

Bingo

I go to bingo at 18th & Chadwick with the seniors. Then there’s Rittenhouse Square, an old spot where you can people-watch.

My favourite song

Just Like You by Keyshia Cole

This song talks about growing and teaches me not to be stagnant, to keep moving and pushing. The song talks about looking into the mirror and finding out who and what you are in life. When I was using drugs, I couldn’t look in the mirror. I used to run past, back and forth, back and forth, I couldn’t look because I looked like a hot mess. But now that I look good and feel good – spiritually, physically, and mentally – that song helps me to grow.

READ ALL OF OUR VENDOR CITY GUIDES HERE

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices
energy bills
Energy bills

Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices

Poverty costs the UK billions each year. Politicians must commit to ending it this general election
Trussell Trust food banks
General election 2024

Poverty costs the UK billions each year. Politicians must commit to ending it this general election

Abuse survivor tried to take her own life after years-long battle with DWP over disability benefits
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
Department for Work and Pensions

Abuse survivor tried to take her own life after years-long battle with DWP over disability benefits

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?
rents uk
Renting

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know