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Philadelphia's belief that its future depends on its visitors is apparent at this ever-expanding behemoth. Though the original, 440,000-square-foot, $522-million building was enormous, it just got even bigger. The new center is now where the old office buildings, a historic firehouse, and artists' studios stood, and it has 1 million square feet of saleable space, the largest contiguous exhibit space (541,000 sq. ft.) in the Northeast, and the largest convention center ballroom on the East Coast.

The most interesting way to access the older portion of the Convention Center is via Philadelphia Marriott's walkway, to an overlook of the Grand Hall. This cavernous, chilly, marble-covered space stars Judy Pfaff's vast kaleidoscopic Cirque, a network of airy steel and aluminum tubes over 70,000 square feet of space. Esplanades and corridors contain a veritable museum of 52 living artists (35 from Philadelphia).

This neighborhood is rife with chain restaurants. If you'd like to dine in a true Philly setting nearby, have breakfast, lunch, or an early supper at the Reading Terminal Market, or explore the marvelous finds in Chinatown.