Author Archives: Ron Avery

Teaching the Sciences in Philadelphia

  Today the Atwater Kent Museum is a modest-sized museum of city history, but it was built in 1826 as the original Franklin Institute – a school dedicated to the mechanical arts, science, technology and research. The groundwork of the industrial revolution was laid in the early decades of the 19th century with the advent […]
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From Musket Balls to Basketballs- The Sparks Shot Tower

  Perhaps it is still standing because it would cost too much to demolish. The Sparks Shot Tower – for many years the tallest structure in Philadelphia – is now part of a city recreation center. Instead of making tons of musket balls, birdshot and bullets, the 142-foot tower looms above an indoor basketball court. The Sparks […]
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Bringing the World to Philadelphia

  During its last decades, the Commercial Museum was a forlorn and forgotten anachronism – little more than a hazy memory for aging Philadelphians of a long-ago junior high school field trip. When it was demolished in 2005, few mourned its passing. But during its first decades, there was probably no Philadelphia institution more dynamic, […]
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