Monthly Archives: May 2012

Winning the Game of History: Doug Heller, USHistory and the Truth at Sixth and Market Streets

Until Doug Heller stepped forward about a decade ago, the real meaning of Sixth and Market Streets had been lost to historical background noise. As webmaster of USHistory.org at the Independence Hall Association, a unique perch for building online content and public understanding, Heller learned the story of The President’s House in Philadelphia, which stood […]
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Traitor’s Nest: Mount Pleasant

    The painful crucible of the Revolution transformed George Washington from an land-grabbing, status-obssessed Virginia planter into a charismatic, measured leader of men.  Although a mediocre military strategist, Washington’s strength was his ability to keep his rag-tag army together. He wore down the enemy not by dazzling displays of generalship, but by attrition (The […]
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Meriwether Lewis in Philadelphia

This time, Thomas Jefferson wasn’t messing around. As POTUS (President of the United States) and POTAPS (President of the American Philosophical Society) in 1803, Jefferson now had the power, the intelligence and the allies to mount a secret missionand finally discover—if one existed—a water route across the American continent. All he needed was “an intelligent […]
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What’s Wrong With Philadelphia’s “Museum Mile”?

The Renaissance masters understood cities; they knew how to imagine them. Important cities must have wide streets. “Broad Streets are more lightsome,” declared Andrea Palladio in 1570. When “one side of such a Street is…less eclipsed by the opposite Side, the Beauty of Churches and Palaces must needs be seen to the Greater advantage in […]
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William H. Shoemaker Junior High School

“A school system that is not costing a great deal these days is not worth a great deal.” - The Centennial Anniversary of the Public Schools of Philadelphia: A Recapitulation, March 1918.   During the 18th and early 19th centuries, Philadelphia’s Quaker schools (Friends Select), and its Protestant church schools (Episcopal Academy) provided rigorous education […]
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Bucknell the Gas King

William Bucknell was born in Marcus Hook in 1811, the son of English immigrants, and had very intermittent schooling.  Trained as a woodcarver, he married Margaret Crozer, daughter of John P. Crozer, owner of the Mattson Paper Mills and a generous donor to the Upland Baptist Church. Leveraging his connections, Bucknell invested his savings in laying […]
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When Philadelphia’s “Earth Mother” Bit The Dust

Broad Street once had its very own Greek Goddess, a two-plus millennia-old statue of Demeter, aka Ceres, aka the Fertility Goddess. Zeus’s mate and Persephone’s mother had presided for decades under a spreading Hawthorn tree in the courtyard of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts at 10th and Chestnut Streets. Then, in the 1870s, […]
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