Vendor City Guide: Philadelphia

In 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 at. 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.

My favourite café/restaurant is…

Ruby Tuesday’s

The all you can eat buffet at Ruby Tuesdays, at Front & Delaware Avenue is my favourite. I like to go to the waterfront. You can look out the windows and see the water. You can window shop around there too. You can meet people and talk to people. At Reading Terminal Market, you can get any food that you want. You can get a drink, watch the games, everything you desire is there.

Everyone should visit…

The Rocky Steps on The Parkway.

You can take pictures there, run up the steps, 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 4th of July.

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 around, and out-and-about.

Photo by Chris Murray on Unsplash

Only locals know about


I go to bingo at 18th & Chadwick with the seniors. Rittenhouse Square is 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, 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.

Originally published by The Big Issue (UK)

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