by Jim Antonacci
The lobby of the Philadelphia Marriott.
From the Editor: In less than two months we will be enjoying the hospitality of the Pennsylvania affiliate and the attractions of the City of Brotherly Love. Our headquarters hotel is now full, but if you hurry, you can still reserve a room at the Marriott Courtyard across the street. The room rates are the same, and the phone numbers for making reservations are also the same. Consult the first page of this issue for details.
The time has come to tell you something about the layout of the Philadelphia Marriott so that, living there for a week or coming in for meetings and convention sessions, you can hit the ground running. Our tour guide for this exploration is NFB of Pennsylvania President Jim Antonacci. This is what he says:
In case you've been a hostage on Survivor's Island and haven't heard yet, the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind is being held in Philadelphia this summer. The convention site is the Philadelphia Marriott, which is in the center of the main downtown business and shopping district of Philadelphia, just a few blocks from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Room rates are as wonderful as they can be for a first-class hotel and convention center in the fifth-largest city in the nation. Rates are $55 a night for singles and $65 a night for twins, doubles, triples, and quads.
In previous months Sue Waters and I have taken you on a verbal tour of the city and its surroundings, given you a taste of the history and language of the area, and helped to guide you from your chosen method of transportation to the city right to the door of our headquarters hotel. Now it is my pleasure to take you on a guided tour of the inside of the Philadelphia Marriott. Those of you who enjoy Web surfing and can make use of photographic images can visit the hotel Web site at <http://www.philadelphiamarriott.com>. Many facts which may not find their way into this article will be available to you there. You can also take a panoramic tour of the hotel by your own computer screen. For those of you wishing a little more description, read on.
The hotel is a rectangle occupying the space bordered by Market Street on the south, Filbert Street on the north, Twelfth Street to the east, and Thirteenth Street to the west. The hotel has the customary semicircular driveway for vehicular traffic in the middle of its Filbert-Street side. Since Filbert Street is small and there are more readily available doors, you will probably not use this door very much. There are doors on each of the other three sides of the hotel, but be advised that you will need your room key to enter those on Twelfth and Thirteenth Streets. If you were to draw a line between the Market Street door and the driveway door, it would divide the hotel in half along a northᾭsouth axis. If we drew a line between the Twelfth and Thirteenth Street doors, it would parallel Market Street and would be further south than the middle of the hotel. At the point where these lines intersect is a raised, circular platform, which is a lobby/bar/atrium, accessible by three steps.
If you entered the driveway door from Filbert Street, you would be facing south, and the hotel registration desk and bell stand would be on your right (west). On your left would be the gift shop and a waiting area with seating. Once past the desk, walking south, you pass the concierge desk on the right, and a coffee bar, with a cocktail bar behind it, is on your left. As you walk left (clockwise) around the raised circle, on the east side you will find Allie's American Grille. Past Allie's are two escalators (facing east) to and from the third floor. Along the southern side of the escalators is a hallway along which are the Market Street Express for quick breakfasts and lunches and the entrance to Champion's Sports Bar and Restaurant. The Twelfth Street door is at the end of the hallway, and just before you reach it, a small opening on the right (south) reveals six elevators. The Thirteenth-Street hallway is a mirror-image arrangement on the west side of the lobby, but there are only five elevators in that group. Along the Market-Street side of the hotel west of the hotel entrance are shops such as Starbuck's, a barber shop, a hair salon, and more. Many of these are accessible from both the hotel lobby and the street.
On the east side of the second floor are the hotel management offices, and on the west side is J.W.'s Steak House, which can be accessed by a private staircase or elevator in the southwest quadrant of the lobby.
Taking the escalator on the east side of the lobby to the third floor, you arrive close to the elevator pod in the southeast corner of the hotel. The meeting rooms on this level have been given quaint but descriptive names such as 301, 301, etc., and have Braille and raised numeric signs near their doors. On each level, lower-numbered meeting rooms are on the west side and higher-numbered ones are on the east. If you walk to the middle of the east side of the hotel, you can cross Twelfth Street using an enclosed sky bridge to the Philadelphia Convention Center and to the Marriott's Deluxe Concierge Towers. The Convention Center was once the Reading Railroad train shed, which housed sixteen tracks used by commuters each day to travel to and from work. From this point you have direct access to the Gallery: a fourᾭlevel shopping mall between Eighth and Eleventh Streets. The concourse level of the Gallery boasts an extensive food court for those looking for a quick meal. The Deluxe Concierge Towers is actually a smaller hotel purchased by the Marriott chain and converted to elegant suites.
Returning to the third floor of our hotel, you find more meeting rooms and some guest rooms on the north side of the building. If you proceed west from the top of the escalators along their southern side toward the middle of the hotel, you will encounter another set of two escalators leading to the fourth floor. On this level are more numbered meeting rooms and Franklin Hall, which will be used as our exhibit hall.
A short jog to the left (south) from the top of the pair of escalators brings you to another escalator arriving on the fifth floor and the Grand Ballroom. This escalator faces west and ends almost at the middle of the hotel. If you continue straight ahead from the escalator, you will find its mate traveling back down to the fourth floor. North of these escalators is the Grand Ballroom. If you begin at the northwest corner of the hotel, you can walk around three sides of the ballroom, ending at the northeast corner, passing twenty-four entrances to the ballroom along the way. According to hotel estimates, the Grand Ballroom seats over 1,500 for dinner.
The pool, in the middle of the seventh floor, is Tᾭshaped and can be accessed directly or through the fitness room. The whirlpool and sauna are also in this area.
Most of the hotel guest rooms are located on the sixth floor and above. They offer the usual amenities including coffee makers, irons and ironing boards, and hair dryers. For those not wishing to take the time to make their own coffee, complimentary coffee is available in the lobby.
Now that you can navigate the Marriott, here is some lateᾭbreaking information about the Welcome America celebration planned for convention week:
Saturday, June 30, 7:30ᾭ10:00 p.m.--Two Cities Two States Concert and Fireworks at Penn's Landing
Sunday, July 1, 3:00ᾭ9:00 p.m.ᾭ-Gospel at the Mann, at Mann Center for the Performing Arts
Monday, July 1, 10:00 a.m.ᾭ5:00 p.m.ᾭ-Kids Day at Penn's Landing
Tuesday, July 3, 5:00ᾭ9:00 p.m.ᾭ-WAWA Hoagie Day and the Summer Mummers' Parade in Center City
Wednesday, July 4, 6:30ᾭ8:30 p.m.--Pennsylvania Memories Parade on the Ben Franklin Parkway
Wednesday, July 4, 8:30ᾭ11:00 p.m.-ᾭSweet Sounds of Liberty Concert and Fireworks at the Philadelphia Art Museum
For more details try the Welcome America Web site at <http://www.americasbirthday.com>.
And now, for you history buffs, members of the NFB of Pennsylvania have checked out a couple of Web sites and find them quite accessible. For inᾭdepth information about the historical area known as Independence National Park, log onto <http://www.nps.gov/inde/exindex.html>. In order to get information about the sites that can be visited in the park, try <http:www.nps.gov/inde/visit.html>.
Now what more do you need to entice you to get your reservations made right now? See you all in Philadelphia July 1 to 7 for the best NFB convention ever!