William H. Shoemaker Junior High School

William H. Shoemaker Junior High School under construction, 7/1/1926.

William H. Shoemaker Junior High School under construction, 8/3/1926.

William H. Shoemaker Junior High School under construction, 12/2/1926.

William H. Shoemaker Junior High School under construction, 12/29/1926.

William H. Shoemaker Junior High School completed, 6/28/1927.

“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 for the sons and daughters of the well-to-do.  In the meantime, the Roman Catholic archdiocese set up an extensive network of parochial schools. Sectarian private schools not only provided community and opportunity, but also reinforced cultural and class identity.

Although the city’s ethnic and religious communities were very good at taking care of “their own,” public education for all proved an uphill struggle for civic leaders. Girard College, a private institution, did provide education to the disadvantaged, provided they were “poor, white, male orphans.” Central High School, founded in 1836 and known as the “People’s College,” provided quality, non-sectarian secondary education for those who met the admission requirements. Some students, like future artist Thomas Eakins, were from middle class families.  Others, such as future pharmaceutical magnate Dr. Albert Barnes, came from abject poverty.  Girls High School, formed along similar lines, followed in 1848.

Although the Philadelphia School Board was formalized in 1818 (with Roberts Vaux as its first superintendent), it was not until the early twentieth century that the city implemented the comprehensive K-12 public education system we know today. By 1918, Philadelphia’s public school system boasted 230,000 pupils taught by 6,300 teachers, housed in over 300 educational structures.*   That same year, school superintendent Garber chastised those who held the view that “there are two classes of society, a higher and a lower, and that it is a mistake to endeavor to break down the barrier between the two.”** Education, leaders like Garber argued, was the great leveler of American society, allowing those born in modest circumstances to rise into the ranks of the middle class and beyond. Philadelphia’s public school system, he concluded, should be the “inveterate foe of ignorance, poverty, disease, crime, and all forms of human waste and neglect…”***

During the booming 1920s, the School Board shifted into high-gear and built two co-ed high schools in West Philadelphia: West Philadelphia High School and Overbrook High School. The School District also started a revolutionary, three-year junior high school program that prepared grammar school graduates for the rigors of secondary education.   Among these new schools was William H. Shoemaker Junior High School, located at 5301 Media Street in the Haddington-Carroll Park section of West Philadelphia. In contrast to adjacent, affluent Overbrook, this was a middle and working class district which grew up along the Lancaster Avenue trolley tracks.  Originally a sleepy country village, Haddington exploded following construction of the Market Street Elevated rail line to the south. The majority of Haddington-Carroll Park’s residents lived in modest, two-story brick rowhouses.  Family stores and manufacturing operations sprouted up along Lancaster Avenue. According to Margaret S. Marsh’s study of the area’s early twentieth century demographics, the mostly-white residents of Haddington-Carroll Park were clerks, bookkeepers, teachers, and small businessmen.  As in neighboring Parkside, there was also a significant Jewish population. The proliferation of clubs and fraternal organizations created, as Marsh wrote, “‘instant’ community for the thousands of newcomers,” and “assured potential members of association with people of similar background.”**** At the same time, a growing number of African-Americans from the Deep South migrated to Haddington in search of work and opportunity. Not surprisingly, they often faced hostility and discrimination from neighbors and employers.*****

As a counterweight to social and racial segregation, schools like William H. Shoemaker Junior High (named for a prominent judge) provided a forum where various ethnic and religious groups could come together for the common purpose of education. Construction began in 1925 and was completed two years later.  It was most likely the work of Irwin T. Catharine, principal architect for the Philadelphia School system between 1918 and 1937.******   Architecturally, it bore a strong resemblance to West Philadelphia and Overbrook High, with its neo-Gothic detailing, pointed-arch windows, and spire-topped towers.  Inside, the school boasted a tiled grand staircase and a two story Georgian auditorium. Hallways were wide and spacious, classrooms steam-heated and lit by large windows. Shoemaker’s appearance may have been an homage to the “collegiate Gothic” of nearby Penn and Princeton, thus giving the middle and working class children of Haddington-Carroll Park a taste of the grandeur previously reserved for the privileged.

A photograph of the first graduating class of William H. Shoemaker Junior High School (1929) gives a rare glimpse into Haddington-Carroll Park’s past.  The children are all in uniform: coats and ties for boys and blouses for girls. Not surprisingly, most of the children are white, but there are a few African-Americans standing in the rows. Looking at the area demographics at the time, it is clear that Shoemaker Junior High was sandwiched between two increasingly segregated neighborhoods. In 1930, Southern Haddington was over 43% non-white, a trend that would accelerate during the Great Depression.  Upper Haddington-Lower Overbrook, by contrast, was only 7.5% nonwhite.*******

First graduating class of William H. Shoemaker Junior High School. Courtesy of Shoemaker Campus — Mastery Charter Schools.

After World War II, institutionalized “red-lining” by insurance companies and “block-busting” by realtors, compounded by the departure of industry, transformed the area around Shoemaker into a segregated slum, with few economic opportunities for its almost entirely African-American population.  Family businesses on Lancaster Avenue were shuttered and houses destroyed by neglect or arson, a trend repeated in urban areas throughout the nation. By the 1980s, a drug epidemic turned the streets surrounding the school into a war zone.   The structure itself crumbled from deferred maintenance, and the Philadelphia Inquirer rated it as the second most dangerous junior high school in the city.********

In 2006, Mastery Charter Schools took over management of the school. Renamed Mastery – Shoemaker Campus, the school has staged a remarkable turnaround. According to Mastery’s website, violent crime has dropped 90%, and 100% of its graduates have been accepted to institutions of higher learning.*********  Most of the building has been completely renovated and modernized, and is now completely air conditioned.

The un-renovated part of the school, about 30% of the building according to director of operations Dan Bell, is sealed off.  Plaster dust coats chairs and desks. An old piano sits in the deserted music room. Mountains of old books cascade out of a storage closet. Mean-spirited graffiti is scrawled on the plaster walls.

While most of the school bustles with life, energy, and the promise of the future, these silent spaces bear silent witness to the grandeur, optimism, sadness, and pain of Shoemaker’s past.

Special thanks to Robert S. Richard (City Year) and Daniel Bell (Shoemaker Campus — Mastery Charter Schools) for making this article possible. 

The old cafeteria. Photograph by Steven B. Ujifusa.

The auditorium, in use since 1927. Photograph by Steven B. Ujifusa.

A piano sits in the former music room. Photograph by Steven B. Ujifusa

*John P. Garber, The Centennial Anniversary of the Public Schools of Philadelphia: A Recapitulation (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Trades School, March 1918), p.15. Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Cities P53-562-b.

**John P. Garber, The Centennial Anniversary of the Public Schools of Philadelphia: A Recapitulation (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Trades School, March 1918), pp.8-9. Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Cities P53-562-b.

***John P. Garber, The Centennial Anniversary of the Public Schools of Philadelphia: A Recapitulation (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Trades School, March 1918), p.16. Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Cities P53-562-b.

****”Philadelphia Public Schools Thematic Resources,” National Register for Historic Places Inventory — Nomination Form. December 4, 1986.

*****Margaret S. Marsh, “The Impact of the Market Street ‘El’ on Northern West Philadelphia: Environmental Change and Social Transformation, 1900-1930,” from William W. Cutler III and Howard Gillette Jr., The Divided Metropolis: Social and Spatial Dimensions of Philadelphia, 1800-1975 (Hartford, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980), p. 174.

******Margaret S. Marsh, “The Impact of the Market Street ‘El’ on Northern West Philadelphia: Environmental Change and Social Transformation, 1900-1930,” from William W. Cutler III and Howard Gillette Jr., The Divided Metropolis: Social and Spatial Dimensions of Philadelphia, 1800-1975 (Hartford, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980), p. 182.

******* Margaret S. Marsh, “The Impact of the Market Street ‘El’ on Northern West Philadelphia: Environmental Change and Social Transformation, 1900-1930,” from William W. Cutler III and Howard Gillette Jr., The Divided Metropolis: Social and Spatial Dimensions of Philadelphia, 1800-1975 (Hartford, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980), p. 184.

********Shoemaker Campus Information, http://www.masterycharter.org/schools/shoemaker-campus/about-shoemaker.html

*********Shoemaker Campus Information, http://www.masterycharter.org/schools/shoemaker-campus/about-shoemaker.html


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Bucknell the Gas King

William Bucknell mansion on the northwest corner of 17th and Walnut, 1900. It was demolished in 1907 and replaced by the Latham Hotel.

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 gas lines in the city of Chester, founding the Chester Gas Company in 1856.

Natural gas was one of the byproducts from coal mining, and by the mid-nineteenth century its flickering light illuminated private homes and streets all over Europe and America.  Along with kerosene, a byproduct of oil, “coal-gas” was a cheaper and more efficient lighting fuel than labor-intensive whale oil.

Bucknell was one of many entrepreneurs who got rich from Pennsylvania’s so-called Iron Triangle, a robust economic engine built on iron ore, coal, and railroads.* During the mid-nineteenth century, men like Rockefeller, Carnegie, Frick, and Bucknell exploited central Pennsylvania’s rich treasure trove of natural resources.  Coal of course had been used to heat homes and power engines for generations.  In 1859, the first commercially successful oil “gusher” shot into the air in Titusville, Pennsylvania.  Railroad companies such as the Pennsylvania rushed into the area to build freight lines. Trains transported the crude oil to refineries in Cleveland and Philadelphia, as well as iron ore to the steel mills of Pittsburgh. Ports like Philadelphia and Chester became the funnels through which the riches of central Pennsylvania flowed to the rest of the country and the world.   Many families who had made fortunes in coal and oil settled around Philadelphia’s genteel Rittenhouse Square. Their employees toiled in tough mining towns such as Hazleton and Johnstown, which were frequently rocked by labor riots organized by the famed “Molly Maguires.”

After conquering Chester, Bucknell moved on to Philadelphia, competing with the likes of fellow robber barons Peter Widener and William Warren Gibbs, both directors of the immensely successful and notoriously corrupt United Gas Improvement Company.  Like his Cleveland counterpart John D. Rockefeller Sr., Bucknell was a devout Baptist who gave liberally to his church and to charities.  One of his greatest beneficiaries was the First Baptist Church, which in the 1890s lofted an enormous sandstone building at 17th and Sansom, directly behind Bucknell’s Italianate mansion on Walnut Street.

Yet like Rockefeller, a founder of the University of Chicago, Bucknell was interested in forwarding higher education, and served on the Board of Trustees of the Baptist-affiliated University at Lewisburg, located near the source of his coal and gas wealth.  In 1881, Bucknell saved the school from financial ruin by donating $50,000 to the University.

In gratitude, the trustees renamed the school Bucknell University.

*Nathaniel Burt, The Perennial Philadelphians: The Anatomy of an American Aristocracy (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), p. 187.

William Bucknell (1811-1890). Source: Bucknell University

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When Philadelphia’s “Earth Mother” Bit The Dust

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Broad and Cherry Streets. Detail: Statue of Demeter over entrance. Photograph by Madill, May 19, 1925.

Broad Street once had its very own Greek Goddess, a two 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, architects Furness and Hewitt had a Eureka moment as they composed the new building’s polychromatic façade of red brick, brownstone, sandstone and granite. Furness and Hewitt completed their composition with the Greek original over the entrance at Broad and Cherry, proving there was still some juice left to Philadelphia’s old claim as “The Athens of America.”

How did Philadelphia get its Greek Goddess? As Columbia University archeologist William B. Dinsmoor told it, Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson took advantage of his authority, his wealth and his presence in the Mediterranean in the 1820s. Patterson’s and his ship, the USS Constitution, were on a military mission that doubled as a treasure hunt. First Patterson and his crew visited the ruins of Carthage and made off with some large mosaics. Then, at the catacombs of Melos and Aegina they managed to buy collections of glass and terracotta. From Sunium they took pieces of the temple. And while near Athens in 1827, the Constitution anchored close enough to Megara to find the prize of the entire expedition: statues of Demeter and her daughter Persephone.

A small group of “emaciated” Greeks led Patterson and his crew three miles inland to the buried statues. And where the Commodore didn’t know exactly what they were, he knew they were very ancient and very good. Claiming his purchase an act of charity to feed their families, Patterson bought the less “mutilated” of the two statues and assigned 25 of his men the job of getting his treasure to the Constitution. Patterson also did his best to acquire a key missing part. “I was unable to procure the Head ‘tho I offered a high price,” he apologized in the letter dated July 16, 1828, presenting the statue to the Academy.

More than a century later, while conducting research for his article “Early American Studies of Mediterranean Archaeology,” Dinsmoor homed in on Patterson’s exploits and concluded that this haul was indeed remarkable. Not only was the figure sculpted by the same expert hand as the Persephone Patterson left behind, Dinsmoor concluded that Philadelphia’s Demeter was “the largest piece of ancient sculpture brought to this country before the Civil War.”

Patterson also realized his scholarly efforts were too little, too late.

In the summer of 1937, fearing that the now cracked Earth Mother would kill passersby, Academy officials priced out its removal. As the discussions went on and the estimates came in, the idea of removal and restoration gave way to outright demolition. Sculptor Louis Milione claimed he could “demolish the figure for the sum of $250.”—one quarter of the estimate of bringing Demeter to earth in one piece. Academy officials quickly accepted Milione’s bid and, as The Philadelphia Inquirer soon reported, the statue was “knocked apart with maul and sledge and pneumatic drill and ignominiously hauled off.”

“The fate of the Demeter is somewhat embarrassing to consider,” wrote Dinsmoor during the depths of the Second World War, “in view of the fact that the events occurred only recently and in our own enlightened environment, rather than in Nazi terrorized Europe.”

Philadelphia’s Greek tragedy also played out as an American irony. In the 1940s, Charles Rudy recycled two chunks of Demeter’s debris and sculpted Pekin Drake and Two Hearts that Beat as One. Today, both are in the Academy’s collection.

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William Cramp & Sons Ship and Engine Building Company

On a cold, drizzly morning in November 1894, 25,000 men, women, and children surged through the gates of Philadelphia’s Cramp shipyard to witness the launching of the largest liner yet built in the United States.  She was the SS St. Louis, the 11,000 gross ton flagship of the American Line, owned by Philadelphia shipping tycoon Clement Griscom.  Attending the launching were President Grover Cleveland, shipyard president Charles Cramp, and First Lady Frances Cleveland, who would be the ship’s godmother.

The liner St. Louis was the crowning achievement of William Cramp & Sons Ship and Engine Building Company. She was America’s entry into the heated transatlantic liner competition of the late nineteenth century.   Built of steel and nearly two football fields long. St. Louis would be powered by two steam reciprocating engines able to propel her through the Atlantic at 20 knots.   It was hoped that St. Louis and her identical sister St. Paul would capture the transatlantic record from the Cunard liners Campania and Lucania.  Shipyard president Charles Cramp (son of founder William Cramp) boasted that, ”each successive ‘lowering of the record’ marks a triumph for the designer and builder, a fame world-wide, and substantial benefits to mankind.”**

After her successful launch on November 12, 1894 by First Lady Frances Cleveland, St. Louis would spend another year in the fitting out basin, where hundreds of workers would turn the empty hull into a floating village.  Giant floating cranes, including one fittingly named Altas, could handle boilers and machinery weighing up to seventy tons. When complete, St. Louis could carry 1,200 passengers in three classes, most of who would be crammed into lower deck steerage berthes.  She would boast electric lights (only a few years earlier, steamships were lit by flickering oil lamps), flush toilets, and steam heating in her public rooms. Her luxurious first class interiors were designed by architect Frank Furness, who had also built Griscom’s “Dolobran estate” on the Main Line.  The first class dining room was 55 feet wide and three decks high, capped barrel-vaulted stained glass skylight.  At dinner, passengers could enjoy the melodious strains of a full-sized pipe organ.

Unfortunately, despite her owner’s best efforts, the St. Louis and St. Paul were unable to capture the Blue Riband of the Atlantic when they debuted in 1895.  They could only make 19.5 knots as opposed to the 21 knots of the two Cunard ships. The St. Paul made history in November 1899 when she carried a famous passenger, Guglielmo Marconi, who had installed his new wireless telegraph system aboard the liner.

As the St. Paul approached the English coast, Marconi powered up his transmitter and continued to send out a message in Morse code announcing the liner’s impending arrival.

Finally, when the ship was fifty miles away from her destination, Marconi got the response he was waiting for:

“Is that you, St. Paul?”  the shore station operator asked.

“Yes,” Marconi tapped back.

“Where are you?”

“Sixty-six nautical miles away.”

Thus, the St. Paul became the first ship to have her arrival radioed to shore by wireless.**

By the early 1900s, a new generation of four-funneled superliners from Britain and Germany had completely outclassed the St. Louis, and the American government failed to provide her owners with the subsidies needed to construct new vessels that could compete in terms of size, speed, and luxury.  After serving as a merchant cruiser and troop transport in both the Spanish-American War and World War I, St. Louis was destroyed by fire in 1920 and sent to the scrappers. St. Paul was broken up a few years later.

Not until the early 1950s, with the advent of the Virginia-built SS United States, would an American shipyard construct a passenger ship of comparable international prestige.

William Cramp & Sons Ship and Engine Building Company, known to Philadelphians simply as  ”Cramps”, was once one of the great shipyards of the world, on par with Harland & Wolff in Northern Ireland (builders of the Titanic) and John Brown & Company in Scotland (builders of the Lusitania and the original Queen Mary). The enterprise was started by William Cramp, the son of German immigrants, who founded a small yard at the foot of present-day East Susquehanna Avenue in 1830.

At its peak in the 1890s, Cramps employed five thousand men, most of whom lived in the surrounding Kensington neighborhood. It built not only passenger ships, but also cargo vessels, battleships, cruisers, and other craft for the “new”  U.S. Navy, which was in the 1890s was undergoing a massive expansion.  Rising on the stocks alongside the ocean liner St. Louis in 1894 was another revolutionary vessel: the USS Indiana, the first true battleship in the United States Navy. So well-regarded was Cramps’ workmanship that in 1899 the Imperial Russian Navy commissioned a state-of-the-art heavy cruiser, the Varyag, from the American shipyard.

In its heyday, Cramps was a landscape of vigor, energy, and gritty  beauty. In 1902, the principal buildings included a massive 1,200 foot-by-72 foot main structure (housing facilities for plate bending, piping-cutting, and joinery), as well as a boiler shop, machine shop, and blacksmith shop.*** Enormous slipways, where hulls of great ships were constructed before their launch into the churning Delaware, were topped by iron-lattice gantries.  Smokestacks soared high above Kensington’s rowhouses and church spires, spewing black coal smoke into the air.

After World War I, Cramps rapidly fell upon hard times, largely due to the Washington Treaty of 1923 which severely limited the size and construction of new warships.  After finishing the Matson liner SS Malolo in 1927, Cramps went bankrupt and ceased operations.  After a brief revival during World War II, in which the yard built submarines, the boilers went cold and the machine shops went dark for the last time.

In early 2011, the last remaining building of the William Cramp & Sons Ship and Engine Building Company met the wrecker’s ball, to make way for a new I95-Girard Avenue interchange.  All that remains of one of Philadelphia’s great industrial enterprises are a few rotting piers and a massive, weed-choked lot on the banks of the Delaware River.

William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Company, gantries as seen from the Delaware River, 1917.


A warship on the ways at Cramps’ shipyard, 1914.

Lithograph of William Cramp & Sons Ship and Engine Building Company, 1895

The SS “St. Louis” off New York. When completed in 1895, she was the largest passenger ship yet built in the United States. Her interiors were designed by Frank Furness. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

*Cramp’s Shipyard founded by William Cramp, 1830 (Philadelphia: William Cramp and Sons Ship & Engine Building Company), 1902, p.4-5.

**Degna Marconi, My Father, Marconi (Montreal, Canada: Guernica Editions, 1996), pp. 71-72.

*** Charles Cramp, as quoted by Cramp’s Shipyard founded by William Cramp, 1830 (Philadelphia: The William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Company) 1902, p.128.


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Poor Richard in a Roman Toga

The Library Company of Philadelphia’s original building on 5th Street, by Frederick DeBourg Richards, 1859.

Benjamin Franklin lived in the here and now; he wasn’t so much the toga type. Early on, Franklin and friends formed what they called the “Leather Apron Society” and cultivated their image as well-read, regular fellows. It wasn’t beyond Franklin to slice up a rattlesnake (or an image of one, anyway) to make the point that the colonies should “Join or Die.” While in London, Franklin depicted Britannia herself as a quadriplegic to make another political point. In Paris, he shunned wigs and frills and put on his fur hat and a neck cloth only a little finer than burlap. Franklin generated more than his share of charisma and the French loved their rustic guest. They imagined him the charming, clever woodsman, the real thing when compared with their own plain-dressing philosophers. Little did they know, or care, that Franklin dressed down for his French fans.

Franklin couldn’t have appeared more human—more capable of conversation—than he did in Jean-Antoine Houdon’s marble bust from 1779 (see it at the Philadelphia Museum of Art). But this was no mere mortal. Houdon knew it and we know it. The French praised Franklin the inventor and revolutionary for having “seized lightning from the heavens and the scepter from tyrants.” They depicted him in classical robes protected by the Goddess Minerva as he directed the scimitar-swinging Mars to smite Avarice and Tyranny. (See the image by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.) No fur cap would do. Fragonard dressed Franklin for the part in a classic, classical toga—and it seemed about right.

George Washington had been dead for decades when, at the 100th anniversary of his birth, Americans witnessed the deification of the Father of His Country as an enthroned, bare-chested, 30-ton Zeus. When artists depicted Franklin as a God, he was very much alive and still walking the streets.

Franklin by Lazzarini, 1791 (The Library Company of Philadelphia)

So it couldn’t have come as too much of a surprise when the directors of the Library Company of Philadelphia (which Franklin had been instrumental in launching sixty years earlier) asked the aged Franklin if he’d mind terribly being depicted once again in a classical dress. This time, it would be a larger-than-life, full-length statue of white Carrara marble. In his right hand, extending from an arm supported by a symbolic stack of books. This Franklin would hold a scepter, inverted to represent his opposition to monarchy; this Franklin would preside over Independence Square when Philadelphia served as the nation’s capital. Of course, the living, breathing Franklin agreed to play the part—and got to again tweak modest Quaker Philadelphia with its first piece of public art. Italian sculptor Francesco Lazzarini got right to work. But Franklin died in April 1790, nine months before the opening of the library and two years before the installation of the statue.

Over the years, the marble Franklin lost a few parts along the way. In the late 1870s, the Library Company moved from 5th Street to Juniper and Locust and hired Frank Furness to design a new building that replicated the spirit of the original. Furness designed a new niche for Lazzarini’s Franklin. A decade later, and directly across the street, the Episcopal Academy opened its doors. Episcopal’s student body grew and so did its building. As a former student once confessed, when his classmates could, they escaped with slingshots to the school’s fourth floor balcony, which looked directly across at Franklin. But the students weren’t there to admire Lazzarini’s work. They had one thing in mind: to make Poor Richard a little poorer.

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Reverend William Henry Furness: A Philadelphia Unitarian

1426-1434 Pine Street, 1961. The Reverend William Henry Furness house is the furthest on the left. These homes were the quintessence of the “Quaker style” Furness so disliked. This was the childhood home of architect Frank Furness, and it still stands today.

Born in Boston and educated at Harvard, Reverend William Henry Furness (1802-1896) came to Philadelphia at the tender age of 22 to nurture the city’s small Unitarian community, which had been founded by scientist and British immigrant Joseph Priestly in the 1790s.

Like Quakerism, which holds that the light of God is in all of us, Unitarianism was considered revolutionary, even dangerous, by traditional Protestant theologians.  Unitarianism holds that God is not triune (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), but a single being, and that Jesus Christ was a great teacher and major historical figure, but not necessarily divine.  In his groundbreaking A History of Jesus, Furness rejected the Immaculate Conception and other miracles, arguing that, “these stories may have been pure fictions, generated by the marvelleous [sic] which the great life of Jesus did much to inflame. Or they were exaggerations of certain simple and very natural incidents, magnified by wonder.”*

To the scientifically-inclined urbanites of the Early American Republic, this was a theological breath of fresh air.  To Methodist revivalists under the sway of the Second Great Awakening, this was complete and utter heresy!

As a Boston transplant to Philadelphia, Furness was a liberal, open-minded humanist, and a devoted friend of the New England philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, who preached individuality and self-reliance over conformity.  In his 1836 speech “Nature,” published by The American Scholar, Emerson argued that education should not be geared towards material gain and the practical sciences, but towards self-improvement and enlightenment:

So shall we come to look at the world with new eyes. It shall answer the endless inquiry of the intellect, — What is truth? and of the affections, — What is good? by yielding itself passive to the educated Will. … Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions. A correspondent revolution in things will attend the influx of the spirit.

The Emersonian spirit pervaded the Furness family home. Reverend William Henry Furness raised his children in a modest brick rowhouse at 1426 Pine Street, in which according to Frank Furness biographer Michael J. Lewis, “judgments about art were formulated with Puritan zeal  and in witty, forceful, literate language.”**   Furness and his wife Annis had four children, all of whom went on to pursue intellectual and artistic careers: William Henry Jr. became a portrait painter, Horace a renowned Shakespeare scholar and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Annis a German translator. Finally, there was ill-tempered, school-hating Frank, who went on to become Philadelphia’s most celebrated architect.

As prominent and educated minister, Furness’s place in society was secure, but he always felt aloof, different, a bit of a misfit in Philadelphia.  He longed for the rich intellectual ferment of Boston, and as a man of strong opinions he grew bored with polite drawing room prattle.  Despite Reverend Furness’s groundbreaking preaching and social activism on behalf of African-Americans (or perhaps because of it), Unitarianism never gained a strong foothold in Philadelphia. Most of Philadelphia’s upper class had blood or economic ties to the slave-holding South, and Furness frequently found himself shunned or verbally abused on the streets of the Quaker City. Yet Furness held his ground.  He hosted a convalescencing Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner at his Philadelphia home after he was brutally beaten by South Carolina congressman Preston Brooks, and personally protected abolitionist Frederick Douglass from an angry mob in New York City.***  Reverend Furness also found an intellectual soul mate in the actress and abolitionist Fanny Kemble, unhappily married to the slave-owning, Southern-sympathizing Philadelphia playboy Pierce Butler.****

Furness fostered ecumenical outreach with the city’s Jewish community. In the late 1860s, his son Frank Furness, who had gallantly served the Union as a cavalry officer, designed a new, Moorish-revival shul for Rodelph Shalom.  Following the dedication of this splendid structure in 1870, Furness declared to Rodeph Shalom’s Rabbi Morris Jastrow that the two congregations should have an annual joint Thanksgiving service.***** In an era when Philadelphia’s historically well-integrated Jewish community was facing increasing discrimination, this was a bold gesture.   In his own writings, Furness was sympathetic to the plight of the Jewish people in the Russian Empire.  ”The Hebrew race is a great race,” he declared in his A History of Jesus. “With no civil order, no country, its remnants have been now scattered for centuries over the world, maintaining a national existence without any national institutions. What a vitality does this fact disclose!”******

Even though his children married into Philadelphia’s social establishment, Reverend Furness grew increasingly bitter with what he saw as his adopted city’s conservative, prudish, anti-intellectual climate. At an 1870 meeting of the American Institute of Architects, Reverend Furness had the gall to bite the hand that fed him. Deriding what he saw as dull Philadelphia taste, he argued that American architects must liberate themselves from the “Quaker style, marble steps, and wooden shutters.”*******

Furness retired from the leadership of the First Unitarian Church in 1875, and devoted himself to scholarship and cultural criticism.  Yet in 1886, the old minister must have felt vindicated, when new home for the congregation was consecrated at 21st and Chestnut Street.  It was a bold, craggy limestone pile, bristling with towers and adorned with colorful tiles.

This new home for the First Unitarian Church was designed by his son Frank Furness, who had followed his father’s (and Emerson’s) advice to build his own world. Like Frank Furness’s residential commissions, it stood out in bold relief against the subdued rowhouses and churches of the Quaker City.  As Reverend Furness had defied orthodoxy and convention from his pulpit, his son Frank did so with his draftsman’s pen.

The old man must have been proud, indeed.

William Henry Furness. Source: www.harvardsquarelibrary.org


“Build, therefore, your own world.” The First Unitarian Church, 2121 Chestnut Street, designed by Frank Furness, 1893. The tower and port-cochere have been demolished.

*Reverend William Henry Furness, A History of Jesus (Boston: Crosby, Nichols & Company, 1853), p.19.

**Michael J. Lewis, Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2001), p. 12.

***Michael J. Lewis, Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2001), p. 13.

****Michael J. Lewis, Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2001), p. 81.

*****E. Digby Baltzell, Puritan Boston, Quaker Philadelphia (New York: The Free Press, 1979), p.302.

******Reverend William Henry Furness, A History of Jesus (Boston: Crosby, Nichols & Company, 1853), p.9.

*******James F. O’Gorman, The Architecture of Frank Furness (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1973), p.15.

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Parapets, Pinnacles and Perpetuity

Purchase Photo View Nearby Photos Monument Cemetery Gatehouse just before demolition, Broad Street at Berks Street, March 3, 1903.

Philadelphians were dying to get out of town in the 1830s and 1840s—and so were city dwellers just about everywhere. Parisians started the trend, opting for a rural burial at Le Père Lachaise Cemetery before Americans caught the bug. Soon, the living from Boston to Baltimore, Detroit to Dayton, Pittsburgh to Philadelphia transformed romantic rural landscapes into perpetual theme parks for the dead. Or so they thought.

Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery overlooking the Schuylkill River opened in 1836. The following year Monument Cemetery on Broad Street started up. Then came Woodlands in West Philadelphia and the business model took off. Cemeteries selling families plots of picturesque real estate with mellow names like Cedar Hill, Glenwood, Greenwood, Mount Moriah, Mount Peace, and Mount Vernon cropped up all over the unbuilt landscape. Fashionable folk anticipated spending eternity in the peaceful Philadelphia countryside.

One of the founders of Monument Cemetery, the artist John Sartain, planned to reside there after his long and productive life as an engraver. Sartain enjoyed the memory of Broad Street in the 1830s when it was only a lane “narrowed in still further by a ditch on either side, behind which was a post-and-rail fence, the boundary of adjacent fields.” He sketched a design for a Gothic gatehouse to welcome both permanent residents and short-term visitors.

But Broad Street was no country lane. Anticipating that its boulevard-like width should carry northward from the built-up city as far as the eye could see, cemetery managers agreed to set back their gatehouse “provided the other land owners on both sides of the street would do the same” and plant “a double row of trees along each sidewalk.” And Broad Street, Sartain later recalled, was “widened to its present breadth…extending this noble avenue thirteen miles in length, straight as a ray of light.” There, behind his “Gothic parapet and pinnacles,” Sartain expected to reside for eternity.

“Chapel and principal entrance to the Monument Cemetery, Philadelphia,” 1850. (Library Company of Philadelphia.)

But as long as there is life, there are compromises.

While away in Europe, Sartain’s gatehouse was “spoiled by a member of the board of managers…a carpenter…who considered that every building must have a projecting cornice.”  Away went Sartain’s Gothic roofline and up came Italianate woodwork. As Sartain bluntly put it in his memoir titled, The Reminiscences of a Very Old Man, “my original design is now travestied.”

That would hardly be the least of it—or the last of it. Only six years after Sartain was buried beneath his brownstone monument topped by a sphinx, the city extended Berks Street and demolished the gatehouse—after documenting it front (illustrated) and back. Now transected by a tree-lined Berks Street, Monument Cemetery filled with up with Sartain’s relatives and about 28,000 others. In 1929, the last lot-holder was laid to rest.

Rest in peace? Not on your life. At Monument Cemetery, there would be irony in the mourning. By the 1950s, as we’re graphically informed here and there, Monument Cemetery’s real estate would be reclaimed for parking by the adjacent, expanding Temple University. Cranes lifted caskets and coffins which made their way to Lawnview Cemetery in suburban Rockledge. Headstones and monuments, however, including the one Sartain had designed for himself, were carted off to another form of finality, as landfill on the banks of the Delaware River at Brideburg, not far from where the Betsy Ross Bridge would soon rise.

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Andrew Jackson Downing on Tulpehocken Street

People’s pride in their country is connected to pride in their home. If they can decorate and build their homes to symbolize the values they hope to embody, such as prosperity, education and patriotism, they will be happier people and better citizens.

                                                                                                            -Andrew Jackson Downing

Back in the fall of 2003, I took the R8 Chestnut Hill West train to visit a friend who taught history at Chestnut Hill Academy.  I had just started graduate school at Penn. Being the ignoramus I was, I stupidly thought that I was on my way to the famed Main Line suburbs that my  late Philadelphia-native step-grandfather mentioned when I was young.

Was I wrong.  I learned from Dmitri that confusing this part of Northwest Philadelphia and the Main Line was a major faux-pas, to say the least.

During that train ride, remember one name standing out as the conductor bellowed the the station stops.  ”Tulpehocken!”

It means “Land of the Turtles” in Native American dialect.*

Several years later, I explored West Tulpehocken Street myself.  Even though this neighborhood has declined economically since its heyday in the early twentieth century, it immediately struck me as one of the most beautiful parts of Philadelphia.  The houses on here were not just big — they were bona fide mansions.  Some, like the Ebenezer Maxwell house, were Gothic or Italianate confections.  Others were big, craggy Victorian behemoths of gray Wissahickon schist, bristling with turrets and carved wooden balconies. Tall shade trees arched lazily over the street.

This late nineteenth century residential area, known as the Tulpehocken Station District, sprang from the vision of designer Andrew Jackson Downing (1815-1853), the so-called father of American landscape architecture.  Largely self-taught, Downing was a Jeffersonian at heart, who felt that the geometric, formal gardens of Europe were incompatible with the democratic American landscape. He argued that American houses and gardens should avoid the monumentality and symmetry, and aim for the informality and harmony with their natural settings and plantings.  In his watershed book The Architecture of Country Houses, co-authored with architect Alexander Jackson Davis (designer of the  famous Jay Gould “Lyndhurst” estate in Tarrytown, New York), Downing argued that the country, not the congested, industrialized city, was best suited for happy family life, and that “perfect architecture no principle of utility will be sacrificed to beauty, only elevated and ennobled by it.”

Although he died young in a steamship fire, Downing’s influence was profound. His commissions included landscaping for White House and the Smithsonian Institution.  He also trained a young British artist named Calvert Vaux, who went on to partner with Frederick Law Olmsted in the design of New York’s Central Park.   By the Civil War, Downing’s philosophy of  laying out walkable, picturesque communities had spread to numerous new developments along the East Coast, including the Philadelphia commuter suburb of Germantown.

According to the nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places, the Tulpehocken Station District is, along with the tony planned community of Llewellyn Park, New Jersey, among the first suburbs in the country to “put Downing’s theories and designs into practice.” The neighborhood was the result of the subdivision of rural parcels owned by the old Germantown Haines and Johnson families, who had owned property in Germantown since the 18th century. In the 1850s and 60s, residential development of West Tulpehocken Street remained within walking distance of the horse-drawn Germantown Avenue trolley line.  By the 1880s, electricity powered the trolleys, speeding up commuting times between Germantown and Center City Philadelphia. These homes for city commuters, although substantial, were built according to Andrew Jackson Downing’s principles of picturesque simplicity and charm. They were asymmetrical in composition and were built in either the Italianate or Gothic Revival styles.  At least one design has been attributed to Samuel Sloan, who also designed the Italianate twin houses of Woodland Terrace in West Philadelphia.

In 1884, the Pennsylvania Railroad opened a new commuter railroad line running parallel to Wayne Avenue, and a new crop of even grander homes was constructed within walking distance of the new Tulpehocken Station.  These new homes, located on Wayne Avenue and fronting the greenery of Fairmount Park, were designed by notable architecture firms such as Hazelhurst & Huckel (Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church), Cope & Stewardson (the Penn Quadrangle), and the Hewitt Brothers (the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel).*  These new homes reflected the growing prosperity of industrializing, Gilded Age Philadelphia, built to impress visitors, as well as to comfortably house large families and domestic staff.

Despite some physical neglect and subdivision of many of the large homes into rental units, Tulpehocken Street is remarkably intact today, an overlooked example of a golden age of American suburban development.

Andrew Jackson Downing. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

6141 Wayne Avenue, c.1960.

258-266 West Tulpehocken Street, c.1960.

231 West Tulpehocken Street, c.1960.

233-35, 231 West Tulpehocken Street, c.1960.

154 West Tulpehocken Street, c.1960.

128, 120, 112, 136 West Tulpehocken Street, c.1960.

128, 120, 112, 136 West Tulpehocken Street, c.1960.

258-266 West Tulpehocken Street, c.1960.

Carriage house, rear of 258 West Tulpehocken Street, c.1960.

*Tulpehocken Settlement Historical Society, http://www.tulpehockenroots.org/

**Tulpehocken Station District, National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, http://www.brynmawr.edu/iconog/gtn/regtulp.htm


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Never a Dull Moment: The Rough and Tumble History of Philadelphia Newspaper Publishing

Purchase Photo View Nearby Photos The Evening Telegraph at the Lincoln Building on Broad Street, South of City Hall. Photograph by
N.M. Rolston, October 4, 1916.

When Philadelphia boomed so did its newspapers. The city’s population, about 81,000 in 1800, expanded fifteen-fold over the next century to 1.3 million. This did wonderful things to make Philadelphia a robust newspaper reading and publishing town.

No less than a dozen dailies started up in Philadelphia between 1836 and 1880. During the Civil War, Charles Edward Warburton and James Barclay Harding thought afternoon readers could be better served and launched The Evening Telegraph, a newspaper with a name that actually meant something. Utilizing the telegraph, editors transmitted news from the first national political convention after the Civil War held at “The Philadelphia Wigwam” directly to their offices. The Evening Telegraph compiled and ran editorials from newspapers across the United States and Europe. It commissioned translations and serialized Jules Verne’s novels, including his popular Tour of the World in Eighty Days.

By the mid-1890s, then run by the second generation of leadership, The Evening Telegraph built a promising  future. While conducting research for his book American Journalism From The Practical Side, Charles Austen Bates toured the paper’s new quarters at 704 Chestnut Street and sat down the owner/publisher, the thirty-year old Barclay Harding Warburton. Bates came away impressed, finding The Evening Telegraph “in every respect a model newspaper’s home.” He recognized that the young Warburton needed to maintain the paper’s appeal “to the millionaires, solid business people, and the society people” but he also needed to broaden the paper’s popularity. This Warburton accomplished with an array of new features including a woman’s page, “an amateur sporting page,” pages devoted to art, literature, theater, “the secret and colonial societies,” and, on Saturdays, a “ministerial page.” The Evening Telegraph, Bates noted, “seems to appeal very strongly to both the classes and the masses.”

“At Broad Street Station and the Reading Terminal,” wrote Bates, “more copies of The Evening Telegraph are sold than of probably all other papers put together.” Warburton had increased circulation by 300%. He had increased advertising by 60%, selling to every last one of Philadelphia’s 44 banks, 28 trust companies, as well as getting “all the legal business there is.”

The Evening Telegraph at the Lincoln Building on Broad Street, South of City Hall, 1916, detail. (PhillyHistory.org)

The Evening Telegraph thrived on Chestnut Street in a remarkable district, a complex, competitive, journalistic community. By the late 19th-century, eleven of the city’s dailies could be found between 6th and 12th Streets, Chestnut and Market Streets. To Bates, the neighborhood appeared to be thriving; he couldn’t quite imagine how fragile the state of Philadelphia journalism really was. In the first decade of the 20th century, three newspapers would fold. By the Great Depression, ten were gone.

In 1911, perhaps sensing the seachange, Warburton sold out to Rodman Wanamaker, his wealthy, dilettantish brother-in-law. Wanamaker may have bought The Evening Telegraph as a plaything, or possibly as an investment. To run the operation, he installed John T. Windrim, an architect with no experience in journalism or publishing. The paper left its 7th and Chestnut Street office for the high-priced, ostentatious Betz Building, a stone’s throw from both City Hall and Wanamaker’s Department Store. Many things were different on Broad Street, but a few remained the same. Journalists at The Evening Telegraph continued their longtime practice of “transmitting” the latest news by scribbling it on blackboards hung at street level. On October 4, 1916, this was the latest bloodletting from the front lines of World War I (the Battle of the Somme) and the score from the last baseball game (Phillies lost to the Boston Braves, 1-6).

Two years after Wanamaker’s bet on The Evening Telegraph, Cyrus Curtis, an even wealthier Philadelphian, started on an ambitious newspaper acquisition and consolidation spree. Between 1913 and 1930, Curtis, who had been hugely successful as a publisher of magazines, purchased five Philadelphia dailies, three of which he would fold. Curtis’s second target, The Evening Telegraph, acquired for its wire services, was bought and closed on June 28, 1918—after 54 years of publication.

As it turned out, Curtis’s publishing acumen didn’t quite translate to the world of daily journalism. His last acquisition, a $10.5 million purchase of the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1930, was meant as a savvy final stroke in Curtis’s plan. It was final, but not terribly savvy. After Curtis died in 1933 his company was forced to sell the Inquirer at a loss.

It wouldn’t be the last time such a thing could happen.

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Le Corbusier Dynamites the Drexel Block

The intersection of 40th and Locust Streets, 1953.

Locust Street, looking east from 40th Street to 39th Street, 1953. Almost all of these structures were demolished.

39th and Spruce in 1912, when Hamilton Village was a prosperous commuter neighborhood.

In his writings on architecture and city planning, the Swiss architect Le Corbusier (1887-1967) was fond of using the “royal” we:

We must create a mass-production state of mind:
A state of mind for building mass-production housing.
A state of mind for living in mass-production housing.
A state of mind for conceiving mass-production housing.

In the 1930s, Le Corbusier (born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) devised a plan to level the center of Paris and bring “reason” and “order” to what he saw as complete urban chaos.  Baron Haussmann’s 19th century low-rise apartment buildings and triumphant boulevards would be replaced by tall, concrete cruciform towers set in green, wooded parks.

Le Corbusier had nothing but disdain for historic architecture, lambasting Gothic cathedrals as hideous to behold.  In his view, commercial, residential, and industrial districts had to be separated from each other, eliminating multi-use structures that housed both apartments and “mom-and-pop” stores.  Enamored with the automobile, he argued that cities needed to be reoriented around arterial expressways, and that people should surrender the street to the car.

“We must kill the street!” he declared.

He called this vision “The Radiant City.”  He hoped it would not only bring order to the urban form, but would also eliminate class distinctions by having everyone occupying “machines” for living.

In fetishizing the urban form, the collective, and the machine, Le Corbusier had little regard for individuals, especially those in the way of what he saw as progress.

His plans for the rebuilding of Paris were never carried out, but his gospel was taken up not just by  forward-thinking architects and theorists, but also by the automobile industry and real estate developers, who loved the prospect of building new superhighways and the demolition of older urban cores.

Present day critic Theodore Dalrymple has harsh words for Le Corbusier and his “Radiant City.” Comparing him to Pol Pot in the destruction his ideas wreaked, Dalrymple wrote:  ”Le Corbusier extolled this kind of destructiveness as imagination and boldness, in contrast with the conventionality and timidity of which he accused all contemporaries who did not fall to their knees before him.”*

But in the years following World War II, his starstruck admirers and disciples fanned out across America, occupying positions of power and influence in major universities and big city planning departments.  Robert Moses, New York’s all-powerful Parks Commissioner, was one.   Edmund Bacon, Philadelphia’s director of city planning and builder of the Society Hill Towers, was another.

One university president that fell under “Le Corbu’s” spell was Penn’s president Gaylord P. Harnwell, a physicist who presided over the gigantic expansion of the size of scope of the University of Pennsylvania in the 1950s, in which it grew into a truly national institution.  According to the Harnwell Papers website, during his term (1953-1970), “The campus was expanded, many new buildings erected, and all major areas and programs strengthened….a new milestone in the history of the development of the University.”**

Until the 1950s, the University of Pennsylvania had very little green space, and almost no room to expand in any direction.  Today’s Locust Walk was a busy urban street, with a trolley line that cut right through the middle of campus. According to a report from 1963, “Students were poorly housed; faculty established residences in suburbs and formed no campus connection; women students feared to be on the streets at night; traffic became a major problem and parking all but impossible. These ills were dramatized in 1956 by the senseless murder of a Korean student by a band of hoodlums who roamed the area.”***

It was the perfect time for Penn to adapt a new design philosophy that turned away from the neo-Gothic, Oxbridge aesthetic of the past and towards a modern, efficient one that reflected a cosmopolitan, modern university.  In the years following World War II, the GI Bill had led to a massive expansion at America’s universities, and prestige ones like Penn were especially popular with a growing, more socio-economically diverse student body.  Although historically Penn had a large population of commuter students, by the 1950s the old dormitories in the Quadrangle and private rooming houses were exploding at the seams.

Something had to be done.

Philosophical arguments aside, Le Corbusier’s urban high rise vision provided college administrators a way to cheaply house as many students as possible.

Soon after taking office, Harnwell instituted a bifurcated plan for the historic core of the Penn campus inspired by the vision of Le Corbusier.   East of 38th Street, it was pointless for Harnwell to tear down most of Penn’s historic buildings, as they were already occupied by academic departments and fraternities with powerful alumni who donated money to the University.   There was talk of tearing down Frank Furness’s main library — by then considered a monstrosity by most architecture critics — to make room for a more modern structure, but thankfully nothing came of it.  Locust Street was closed to cars, the trolley line running along it shut down, and it was transformed into a tree-lined pedestrian walkway that has since become a model for urban college campuses.

Penn then set its eyes on the blocks west of 38th Street.   The area known as Hamilton Village included ramshackle Victorian mansions that had once belonged to the Drexel banking family (they had long since left West Philadelphia) as well as numerous low-rise apartment buildings and 19th century rowhouses originally built for prosperous commuters.  In its salad days, Hamilton Village was simply called the “Drexel Block.”

To the followers of Le Corbusier, this one-time elite Victorian neighborhood known as “Black Bottom” represented the worst of the “old city”: dirty, cramped, riddled with blight, and bad for the circulation of cars.

The residents of Black Bottom had a much different perspective: ”It was a neighborhood of very active people, people who had very high standards for themselves and their families,” remembered Pearl Simpson in a Philadelphia Weekly interview.  ”Most people worked at the hospitals, on the railroad. Some people had their own businesses, like dressmakers, tailor shops, doctors, little stores and whatnot. They were very into culture and having a good neighborhood.”****

Rather than rehabilitate Black Bottom, Harnwell and his fellow members of the West Philadelphia Corporation (which included representatives from Drexel University, the University of the Sciences, and Presbyterian Hospital), decided on mass-demolition and slum clearance.  The city of Philadelphia quickly condemned Hamilton Village through eminent domain and gave it to the Corporation for redevelopment.

The residents did not leave without a fight.  During that watershed year of 1968, residents erected a barbed wire barricade on 38th Street to prevent the bulldozers from moving in, and cars were overturned and set on fire. It was, as one resident described, “urban warfare.”*****

But by the late 1960s, thousands of mostly African-American residents had been evicted from the Hamilton Village.  With the exception of a few old mansions and the Gothic St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, the blocks bounded by 38th, 40th, Spruce, and Walnut were completely leveled.

Three high-rise concrete dormitories and several low rise student residences — built according to Le Corbusier’s design principles of towers in a park — now occupy a part of campus that students today derisively call “the Superblock” or “the Wind Tunnel.”

The mass-demolition not only destroyed dozens of historic structures, but also deeply scarred relations between the University of Pennsylvania and the surrounding community.

Le Corbusier would have been proud.

Former Drexel family mansion at 38th and Locust, now a fraternity house.

38th and Locust Street in 1953, before demolition and the removal of the trolley tracks.

A mansion converted into apartments and shops, at 40th and Walnut, 1963. This corner is now occupied by a McDonald’s.

Interior details of the former Lea mansion at 39th and Spruce, pre-demolition, 1967.

Le Corbusier waves his hand over his vision for “La Ville Radieuse,” 1964. Source: http://strates.revues.org/5573

*Theodore Dalrymple, “The Architect as Totalitarian,” City Journal, August 2009.  http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_4_otbie-le-corbusier.html

**Guide, Gaylord P. Harnwell Papers, University of Pennsylvania Archives. http://www.archives.upenn.edu/faids/upt/upt50/harnwell_gp.html

***”The Corporation,” The West Philadelphia Partnership, 1963.  http://www.uchs.net/Rosenthal/wpc.html

****Jeffrey Barg, “Black Bottom Blues,” Philadelphia Weekly, September 6, 2006. http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/news-and-opinion/black_bottom_blues-38418829.html

*****Jeffrey Barg, “Black Bottom Blues,” Philadelphia Weekly, September 6, 2006. http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/news-and-opinion/black_bottom_blues-38418829.html


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