The Home Of Liberty And Cheesesteak

liberty bell
The city's name means "brotherly love" in Greek. The Liberty Bell chimes in E-flat, and Elton John wrote "Philadelphia Freedom," a song for tennis icon Billie Jean King. These are just some facts about Philadelphia, a city with character — and characters.

The Italian Stallion scaling the famous steps that CBS Evening News with Katie Couric broadcast from Tuesday might have given the city a renaissance in the 70s, but for centuries, Philadelphia has been as American as one of its most famous natives, Betsy Ross.

"It is a city very vibrant and rich in all of American cultural celebration," historian Douglas Brinkley told Couric.

For decades on Philadelphia radio, it's been " The Geater with the Heater" and "Kalas with the call."

Down on South 9th Street, a 60-year-old battle rages on — for bragging rights for Philly's best cheesesteak.

"Geno's!" customers shouted at one famous cheesesteak vendor.

But at Pat's, it's a different story. "Ask the 3,000 customers that come here, and ask the two that go there!" said Frank "Pat" Oliveieri, owner of nearby Pat's King Of Steaks.

Philadelphia's downtown is called Center City. The nation's oldest farmers market, Reading Terminal, is below an old train station. Since 1892, it's been home to more than 70 fresh food shops and eclectic restaurants.

"Our cannolis are so good that the White House bought then from us for the first President Bush," said Mary Lettery of Termini Bros. Bakery.

Reading's historic anchor is the Harry G. Ochs butcher shop. Three generation of Ochs were tenderizing slabs of beef way before Sylvester Stallone. Harry III cut his first loin when he was 17. Now he's 77.

"I had just graduated high school and my father said take two weeks off, then come back, put an apron on and go to work," he said.

Unlike Ochs, by the 1950s most teens were going hoppin' — and boppin' — to all the music Dick Clark played on "American Bandstand," which was shown live from Philadelphia on weekday afternoons from 1952 to 1964.

And long before "Dancing with the Stars," America voted Bob and Justine its favorite couple.

"They said we were the Fred and Ginger of the era," Bob Clayton told Couric.

"Of the "Bandstand" era," Justine Carrelli said. "We just looked great together. We were two blondes. We were just in sync."

The birthplace of "American Bandstand" has been preserved. The studio building at 46th and Market is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But Philadelphia's greatest source of provincial pride comes from being the birthplace of something else: our democracy.

It was within the walls of Independence Hall that the Founding Fathers adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It is read aloud there every July.

"America was created in Philadelphia," Brinkley explained. "You say the word 'Philadelphia' anywhere in the world and it conjures up this notion of independence, freedom, democracy. Very few cities carry with it that kind of legacy."