Monthly Archives: May 2013

Alexander Johnston Cassatt: The Man Who Spanned the Hudson

Alexander J. Cassatt (1839-1906) was not a Philadelphian.  He was a Pittsburgh transplant who had started his career as an engineer with the Pennsylvania Railroad, and proved himself to be a master of transportation logistics.  As vice president of “The Railroad,” Cassatt enjoyed the good life.  He was the proud owner of a Frank Furness-designed […]
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When Rocks Talk: “The Boys of Mount Airy” and a Woman from Germantown

Bare rock makes a mute memorial. When a boulder loses a plaque once carried, it instantly loses voice, power, and a good measure of its dignity. What to make of the boulder at Germantown Avenue and Sedgwick Street in front of the Lovett Memorial Library? It’s been missing two plaques for forty years. There it […]
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The Wedding that Ignited Philadelphia

Advocates of peace and freedom gathered in Philadelphia 175 years ago today. They had come to dedicate Pennsylvania Hall, “the first and only one of its kind in the republic,” according to abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld. Three days later, this new building “consecrated to Free Discussion and Equal Rights” was reduced to ruins, burnt by […]
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Lower Schuylkill: The Upside of Philly’s Underside

It’s a shame no one has anything good to say about the drive from Philadelphia International Airport to Center City. It’s a gritty but grand entrance, this ride on PA 291, aka the Penrose Avenue Bridge, aka the Platt Memorial Bridge to US 76, aka the Schuylkill Expressway—a ride punctuated by the usual roadwork, billboards, […]
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The Uncertain Future of Germantown High School

It’s been a little over two years since wrote The Rise and Fall of Philadelphia’s Public Schools. In that time, 23 underutilized schools have been officially slated for the chopping block and the Philadelphia School District has only fallen further. As Ken Finkel noted then, many of the institutions being shuttered were built before […]
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