Category Archives: Historic Sites

Where did Breyer’s Ice Cream Go?

Ice cream wasn’t invented in Philadelphia, but that much is true for wholesome, all-natural Breyer’s brand (first, a Philadelphia family business). A recent article in the New York Times bemoaning the latest corporate iteration of Breyer’s — “frozen dairy dessert” — reminded many of this bittersweet fact. The Breyer’s factory at 700 South 43rd Street […]
Posted in Historic Sites | Comments closed

The Carriage Houses of Van Pelt Street

Two months ago, while giving a book talk at Bucknell University, I was fortunate to tour an actual working carriage house, attached to an 1840s brick mansion in the small town of Mifflinburg.  My host Karl Purnell had restored his family’s carriage house to its original condition and configuration. Within its walls were a horse […]
Also posted in Behind the Scenes, Neighborhoods, Snapshots of History, Urban Planning | Comments closed

Before the Academy: Classical Music in the Quaker City

During the late eighteenth century, Philadelphia’s Quaker elite had a dim view of the performing arts.  For a sect that prized plainness, industry, and silence, European high culture represented frivolity and unnecessary “fanciness.”  Having a harpsichord or fortepiano in one’s house could mean being “read out” of meeting, and Friends schools forbade keyboard instruments until […]
Also posted in Entertainment, Snapshots of History | Comments closed

The First and Only to One of Many: How a Coffee Shop Helped Transform Spruce Hill

Soon after moving to West Philadelphia in 1995, Douglas Witmer joked with his brother-in-law Dan Thut that one day they would open up a coffee shop in the Spruce Hill section of West Philadelphia. Neither had business experience. Douglas studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. His wife’s brother Dan had a background in […]
Also posted in Neighborhoods, Urban Planning | Comments closed

Gothic Ruins: A Last Glimpse Inside Northeast Manual Training High School

The former Northeast Manual Training High School looks as if it had been plucked from the Princeton campus and dropped into the middle of North Philadelphia.  Constructed in 1903 at the intersection of North 8th Street and West Lehigh Avenue, the “Collegiate Gothic” building has walls of granite, traceried windows, and gargoyles sprouting from the […]
Also posted in Behind the Scenes, Neighborhoods | Comments closed

“The Cliffs”: Fairmount Park Ruins with a Link to Joseph Wharton

During the winter months, drivers along the Schuylkill Expressway may notice the broken shell of a house near the Girard Avenue Bridge.  Its battered, honey-colored walls are marred by bright graffiti. Its roof is gone, windows vacant. This forlorn ruin, once known as “The Cliffs,” was long ago the childhood home of one of America’s […]
Also posted in Events and People, Uncategorized | Comments closed

When Myth Prevails and History Fails

Philadelphia, we too-often think, has a corner on history when it comes to Liberty, Freedom and all that was right with America. We have historical sites to prove it, so it must be true. But what happens to the sites that tell the downside of history, sites that contradict the prevailing and preferred narrative? Well, […]
Posted in Historic Sites | Comments closed

PMN leaves the Inquirer Building: a look back in pictures

For decades, Philadelphians have picked up two of the most prominent city newspapers — the Inquirer and the Daily News — knowing that the lens through which they learned about Philadelphia, good and bad, was secure in the imposing, palatial Inquirer building on North Broad Street. The building and the publishing company have weathered alterations […]
Posted in Historic Sites | Comments closed

The archaeological investigation at the West Shipyard is open to the public Friday

A 1914 picture of Pier 19 possibly taken from the West Shipyard lot undergoing excavation. When someone says the words “archaeological dig,” ancient Greece, Egypt or Rome tend to come to mind along with visions of buried treasure and mummies galore. But Philadelphia has started its own archaeological excavation led by the John Milner Associates […]
Posted in Historic Sites | Comments closed

Sister Cities: the history of a newly restored piece of Logan Square

By Yael Borofsky for PhillyHistory.org Sister Cities park, reopened this May, is a beautiful homage to urban revitalization, combining the charming with the whimsical in a series of landmarks signifying Philadelphia’s ten sister cities: a cafe, a boat pond, and other small wonders that draw people to Ben Franklin Parkway where the park is situated. […]
Posted in Historic Sites | Comments closed
  • Categories

  • Archives