Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cleaning Up In Philadelphia

What with coal ash, horse droppings and the refuse of day-to-day life, cleaning the early 20th-century city proved no small task. But for South Philadelphia pig farmer turned politician Edwin H. Vare, cleaning up in Philadelphia proved to be quite a lucrative operation, both literally and figuratively. Back then, the city didn’t clean its streets—private […]
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South Street Squeegee

In the 20th century, people came to love their cars, so long as they could drive them on smooth, flat, clean asphalt. In rush hour traffic, cobblestones quickly lost their charm; Belgian blocks got old fast. Asphalt, also known as bituminous paving was as flat could be, providing those who laid it kept it clean […]
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Saving (and Stretching) Devil’s Pocket

“I have seen a pope, I have seen Julius Erving at the top of his game. I have seen a city administration burn down a neighborhood. I watched Randall Cobb slowly realize he would never become a heavyweight champion, of the world. One night I almost saw myself die.” Pete Dexter was saying his long, […]
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A Permanent Slice of Piazza on South Street?

South Street’s civic temperature – and Philadelphia’s by degree – can be measured by checking in at the triangular intersection at South Street, 23rd Street and Grays Ferry Avenue. This pizza-shaped- piazza continues to change with the times, proving, once again, that what goes around comes around. About a century ago, Christopher Morley (who resided […]
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Manhood, Womanhood (and Food) at Macfaddens Physical Culture Restaurant

“Weakness is a Crime.” With those four words Bernarr Macfadden launched a media empire built on health. Within a year, his Physical Culture magazine brought its growing readership arguments for fitness and against refined foods; arguments for contraception and against the corset. Macfadden wrote and published books with seductive titles: Virile Powers of Superb Manhood […]
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Listening to Lipchitz

Ask Jacques Lipchitz to share his views on art. His response is curious. “You can’t verbalize art. I think when you start to do that you lose exactly your impact, because art is born from darkness, and if you start to clarify it, it goes away.” Ask The Master about “freedom of expression” and he […]
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How Jacques Lipchitz Cheated Death

“If Jacques Lipchitz is not the most overrated sculptor of the twentieth century,” sniped art historian Barbara Rose, “he is certainly in the running.” It was 1972 and the Metropolitan Museum of Art retrospective, Jacques Lipchitz: His Life in Sculpture seemed “to go on endlessly,” for Rose. Like so many “miles of stuffed kishka,” all […]
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Balancing the Books for John Moran, Art Photographer

Despite John Moran’s best efforts, Mary Panzer told us, his “photographs were never considered to be art. His audience believed that art was historical and made by hand, whereas Photography was scientific and made by machine. In 1903, the year Moran died, Alfred Steiglitz won the battle to establish photography as a fine art, but […]
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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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