Category Archives: Uncategorized

It All Comes Down to “Yo!”

In the time before traffic, air conditioners, leaf blowers and the irritating like, the city’s streets were full of cries. Not cries for help, but calls of peddlers selling (in summer) peaches, watermelons, and ice cream and (during the cooler months) pepper pot soup, hot muffins and split wood. Pretzels, of course, were sold all […]
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Dog Days of Philadelphia

The majority of PhillyHistory.org photographs come from City of Philadelphia employees who were just doing their daily job to document the city, construction sites, and events. However, and luckily for us, they often captured the daily life of Philadelphia citizens. For the purpose of this blog entry and in honor of us being in the […]
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Stenton Park: Green, Historic and Minutes Away

James Logan needed to get out of town. At forty, William Penn’s secretary had grown “heartily out of love with the world.” Planning his escape, Logan bought 500 acres five miles from the center of Philadelphia. In a retreat built in the 1720s, this “bookman extraordinary,” (he amassed a library of astronomy, mathematics, physics, linguistics, […]
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From Classic to Electric: Art Deco and American Business

Every once in a while, art and life imitate one other, sometimes with interesting results. Such was evident recently when the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission approved Comcast’s request to replace the GE logo atop 30 Rockefeller Center. In 2011, writers of the comedy TV series 30 Rock predicted as much. What they didn’t predict, […]
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The View from 27th and Aspen Streets

Artist Augustus Kollner hit the ground running as soon as he arrived in Philadelphia from Germany in 1839. Thing is, the ground in Philadelphia was changing under Kollner’s feet. In watercolors, lithographs and etchings, Kollner captured scenes of a city in transition, a grid expanding uniformly to accommodate the railroad, the factory and miles of […]
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The Labor Lyceum Movement in Philadelphia

Of all the places where Mother Jones might have started her famous 1903 protest known as the March of the Mill Children, which did she find the most strategic? Philadelphia’s Kensington Labor Lyceum at 2nd and Cambria Streets. Of all the halls where Mother Jones might have advised a thousand young seamstresses on the verge […]
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Reflections on a Funeral (for a Home)

The gathered mourners were done sharing memories. The moving eulogy was over and the choir’s hymn reached its final “amen,” echoing a dozen times through the streets of Mantua. Now, the waiting excavator reared back, its giant claw raised against the blue sky hovering over the two-story rowhouse at 3711 Melon Street. The Funeral for […]
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Trolley Barns and Grand Hotels: A Brief Look at the Widener Empire (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of “Trolley Barns and Grand Hotels.” Part I can be viewed here. The Philadelphia Traction Company, founded by Widener and his business partner William Lukens Elkins (1832-1903), held an iron-grip on the city’s horse drawn and electric trolleys.  As a monopolist, Widener not only sold transportation, but he also sold dreams […]
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“Doctor, Dear Doctor!”: Echoes from the Mask and Wig Club, Part III

This is the final article in the series “Echoes from the Mask and Wig.” Click to read Part I and Part II.   Doctor, Dear Doctor! premiered at Philadelphia’s Shubert Theater in November 1951. Grandpa and his fellow scriptwriters apparently left Moliere’s original plot alone, as the gags about the dimwitted, dissolute woodchopper Sganarelle turned doctor proved […]
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Mother Jones and the Fight Against Child Labor in Kensington’s Textile Mills

“During the Philadelphia textile workers’ strike in 1903,” wrote reformer John Spargo in his 1916 book, The Bitter Cry of the Children, “I saw at least a score of children ranging from eight to ten years of who had been working in the mills prior to the strike. One little girl of nine I saw […]
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