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PhillyHistory Wins Two Amazing Awards!

Best Local Website and the City of Philadelphia's Department of Records deserve a standing ovation and a pat on the back. In the past several months, the website has received two prestigious awards: one from Philadelphia Magazine's "Best of Philly" and one from The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA).

The 2007 "Best of Philly" award, announced in the August edition of Philadelphia Magazine, recognized as the "Best Local Website" (pg. 145). The article stated, "History buff or not, traveling back in time is pretty darn cool. Consider your very own flux-capacitor-fueled DeLorean."

URISA recognized as an 'Exemplary System in Government' and gave the website a "Distinguished System" award. All this tech-speak to say, URISA applauds The Philadelphia Department of Records' efforts to make valuable government information available to the public.

PhillyHistory's fan base continues to grow and we thank you all for your continued support of the site! Keep visiting the site and spread the word about Philadelphia's now famous 'time travel machine.'

Put Philadelphia in Your Pocket with PhillyHistory Mobile!

PhillyHistory has launched a mobile version of the website and is now accessible from most cell phones, handheld computers and other mobile devices.

You're waiting for the bus and it's late but you've finished the last chapter of your book and your iPod battery just died... no need to panic! Pick up your cell phone, log on to, type the address where you are and start the greatest trip in time you've ever taken.

This innovative mobile website has a simple search screen in which you can enter an address or intersection of nearby historic or cultural sites. The resulting display returns a list of sites, photos and maps. Phillyhistory Mobile can serve any pedestrian curious to see what their surroundings used to look like; the tourism industry eager to organize historic tours of the city; and teachers who are interested in making their history curricula more interactive.The advantage of Sajara, the software behind PhillyHistory and PhillyHistory Mobile is that it can be adapted to virtually any historic, cultural or commercial asset. We are looking forward to hearing how people use PhillyHistory Mobile. Do you have some feedback? Let us know.

"Philadelphia Stories" Exhibit A Huge Success - Purchase the framed photos from the exhibit!

Governor Edward Rendell
Studies photographs from

Rob Crites, AIPH Academic Director, explaining an image to a Guest
Photograph by Frank Branigan, DOR


The City of Philadelphia Department of Records, The Art Institute of Philadelphia, and Avencia (the company that built the software that operates partnered to organize an exhibit of more than 80 photos from PhillyHistory. "Philadelphia Stories: The Building of a Great American City" ran at the Art Institute from Aug. 3 - Aug 31. From images of trade, commerce, education, municipal services, arts and entertainment to photos of men and women actually building the city, the exhibit reflected the vitality, vibrancy and development of Philadelphia over the past 150 years. Images dating from the late 1800s, some never before seen by the public, were on display.

Local press and TV covered the event heavily:

"It works the magic of all historical photographs: transporting familiar present to an unfamiliar past." -- Philadelphia Inquirer

"It's a glorious album of the city ..." -- Philadelphia City Paper

"It's really moving to hear all of these people's voices." -- The Bulletin

"For the first time in Philly history, the public can see this treasure-trove, and if every picture tells a story, these archives speak volumes." -- South Philly Review

If you have not been able to attend the exhibit, don't despair! We have created a special page on where you can see a mockup of the exhibit .... and what's more, we have partnered with CritesPhotoFilm + Digital to enable site visitors to purchase the large-format, framed photos like they were displayed during the exhibit.

But hurry up! These fine arts collection photographs are available for sale for a limited run of 25 only. Each photograph has been digitally restored, archival printed on Hehnemuhle Cotton Rag Paper, and numbered to an edition of 25 per photograph. Each image was then matted using four-ply white museum board with acid free foam core backing and placed in a black frame.
Visit and take yours home today!

Help Make History!
History Gets Into the Streets of Philadelphia, and You Can Participate... for free!

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) launches the PhilaPlace project with a free two-part event series in the South Philadelphia and Northern Liberties/Kensington neighborhoods.

With a grant from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Federal-State Partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, HSP and its partners the Philadelphia Department of Records and the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia invite current and former residents of these neighborhoods to share their photographs and memories of places that hold personal meaning.

Part 1 is a workshop to learn ways to preserve community character and contribute to neighborhood history and culture. Part 2 is a history fair where residents can bring contemporary or historic photographs of favorite neighborhood places to be scanned and have their memories recorded for PhilaPlace's digital archive.

HSP's photographic specialist will demonstrate how to preserve photographs. Come early to secure a slot for scanning and recording! For more information, please call HSP at 215.732.6200, ext. 227.

All events are free. No advance registration required.

South Philadelphia:
Queen Village Neighbors Association
Weccacoe Playground Building, 4th and Catharine Streets

Part 1: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 7-9 pm (workshop)
Part 2: Saturday, Nov. 3, 1-4 pm (fair)

Northern Liberties:
St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church
335 Fairmount Avenue

Part 1: Thursday, Nov. 1, 7-9 pm (workshop)
Part 2: Saturday, Nov. 10, 1-4 pm (fair)

Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Our Famous Philly Soft Pretzel

Soft Pretzel Vendor
1601 S. 33rd Street, 1934

West Philadelphia High School
S. 48th St. & Walnut St., 1934


Every month we add several new blog entries to the blog. These blog entries, written by historians, students and researchers, serve as a tool to further explain the photographs found on the PhillyHistory site and to educate visitors to the site about interesting topics related to Philadelphia history. Read an exerpt from a recent blog entry below...

"Just like other major cities and tourist hot spots, Philadelphia has its own unique set of delectable edibles. New York is known for bagels, Chicago for its buttery crusted deep dish pizza, and Savannah for its heavenly pralines. Philadelphia has made its way into similar culinary fame, not only for cheese steaks and water ice (characteristically known as "wudder ice" by the locals), but also for the delicious, chewy, salty, "get-em just about everywhere in Philly," soft twisted pretzels..."Read More


Images scanned in the last 3.5 months

Total images scanned

Unique Visitors in the last 3.5 months

The Philadelphia City Archive is one of the country’s largest municipal archives, with an estimated 2 million photographs that date from the late 1800’s. These gorgeous pictures paint a stunning portrait of Philadelphia and its industry, architecture, culture and people.

New Addictive PhillyHistory Features

Searches on PhillyHistory are addictive! Here is some of what some of you told us:

"Everyone I shared this site with is spending hours looking through it."

"I spend so much time looking at all the pictures since I moved from Philly in 1988. I feel like I'm home again."

Well... we recently added several new features to the site that will make you even more addicted! For those of you who have been exploring the site and using these new features, we would love to hear about how they have enhanced your PhillyHistory experience. Email us at

If you are a frequent PhillyHistory user and want to search for the most recently added photographs only, you can now search for the photographs that have been added to the site during a defined period of time (past 3 days, past 7 days, etc).

Additionally, there is a new 'Bookmark' feature that saves your search parameters including locations, tags, keywords, time period and more, and returns updated results based on your saved search. On the Search page, simply click on the 'Bookmark' button, where you will be asked to name and save your search(es). Up to 50 searches can be saved with each user account.

For those of you who consider yourselves 'tech-geeks' we have two exciting new features. Each of your Bookmarks can be saved as an RSS feed. So each time we add a photo in the vicinity of your bookmarked searches, you will be notified on a schedule defined by you, the user.

Last but not least, the RSS xml format allows an additional data element for GeoRSS. Sites like GoogleMaps, Yahoo! Maps and Microsoft Virtual Earth support GeoRSS at either the API level or the search level or both. You can see your bookmarked searches (including photos) in GoogleMaps or Virtual Earth! That's what we call addictive indeed!

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