Philadelphia

City Hall – topped by a 37-foot, 27 ton statue of William Penn, created by Alexander Milne Calder, (largest single piece of sculpture on any building in the world) is the tallest masonry bearing building in the world (548 ft), including the statue – no steel structural support – the weight of the building is borne by granite & brick walls up to 22 feet thick.  It was the tallest habitable building in the world from 1901-08 & the tallest in Philadelphia until the construction of One Liberty Place (1987) broke the informal “gentlemen’s agreement” that limited the height of tall buildings in the city. cf “The Curse of Billy Penn” [“Phillies go to the World Series! Curses?” Oct.16, 2008]

While at City Hall, lest Eagle fans forget the irony of Dallas, Texas being named after George Mifflin Dallas (1792-1864) – mayor of Phila & Vice President of the US, 1845-49

Chestnut Hill – highest point in Phila. is Summit St., 446′ above sea level; originally known as Sommerhausen; site of Henry Houston’s horse show from 1892 until it relocated in 1908 & became the Devon Horse Show. In the 1930s, Philo T. Farnsworth, one of the inventors of television, lived on “the Hill”

Garrison, James   Houses of Philadelphia: Chestnut Hill & the Wissahickon Valley, 1880–1930

Manayunk – Lenape name meaning “our place for drinking” as applied to the Schuylkill [River], not to the various drinking emporia.  The village (originally known as Flat Rock until 1824) was incorporated & eventually merged into the City of Phila, 1854.  At the turn of the 19th century, it had become known as the “Manchester of America” because of its heavy concentration of textile mills & workforce primarily comprised of British immigrants. cf. Shelton, Cynthia J. The Mills of Manayunk, 1787-1837 Balti.: Johns Hopkins, 1986

West Philadelphia – originally part of land purchased by William Warner. He settled there in 1677 & built a mansion called Willow Grove in the vicinity of what is now 46th & Lancaster Ave. To his holdings Warner gave the name of Blockley, after his native parish in Worcestershire, England. After being located in downtown Phila. (9th & Chestnut Streets) for more than a century, the Univ. of Pennsylvania campus moved across the Schuylkill [River] to West Philly in 1871.

Old City – Unfortunately, the building which served as the Executive Mansion from 1790 to 1800, while Philadelphia was the capital of the United States, no longer exists.  Most of the house had been demolished in the 1830s, but not before it was the “White House” of George Washington & John Adams.  The buidling stood on the south side of Market St., less than 600 feet from Independence Hall.  By modern numbering, the address would be 526-30 Market.  cf. Lawler, Jr. Edward   “The President’s House in Philadelphia: The Rediscovery of a Lost Landmark,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography (Jan., 2002)

For those interested in local Philadelphia neighborhood (Kensington, Fishtown) history, Kenneth W. Milano has a delightfully informative web site which includes selections from the column, “The Rest Is History,” he writes for the Firshtown Star.  A collection of those entries has recently been published in book form, Remembering Kensington & Fishtown, by The History Press of Charleston, SC.

Silcox, Harry C.  Workshop of the World: A Selective Guide to the Industrial Archeology of Philadelphia (1990). Workshop of the World Revisited (2007). Wallingford, PA: Oliver Evans Press

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