Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

News » Author Archives: Arthur Murphy

Lincoln Drive

The 4.1 miles of Lincoln Drive that link Philadelphia’s northwest neighborhoods to Center City was built in three distinct segments over the course of five decades in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. At its south end, a winding mid-nineteenth-century section along the Wissahickon Creek was originally constructed to provide access to water-powered industrial mills. A middle, City Beautiful-era section, was constructed on top of the channelized and buried Monoshone Creek. And at its north end, a discontinuous section was built to facilitate residential development of the Chestnut Hill neighborhood in the early twentieth century. Lincoln Drive’s twisting alignment and complicated character—a single roadway that functions as both a local street and a major arterial—reflect its hydrological origins and gradual evolution from commercial road to parkway to high-volume commuter route.

[caption id="attachment_27822" align="alignright" width="300"]A nineteenth century photograph of the Maple Spring Hotel. The building is rectangular in shape with a pronounced porch along its exterior. Behind the building is a forest. One of the many inns that lined Lincoln Drive in the nineteenth century, the Maple Spring Hotel served travelers and residents until business dropped off following a ban on the sale of alcohol within Fairmount Park boundaries in the 1870s. (Library Company of Philadelphia)[/caption]

The first section of Lincoln Drive was a mile-and-a-half-long private toll road known as the Wissahickon Turnpike. Completed in 1856, it ran along the Wissahickon Creek between its confluence with the Schuylkill River, in the East Falls neighborhood, and Rittenhouse Town (also referred to as “Rittenhousetown” in many early sources), a small settlement of mills and residences in the Germantown neighborhood. This earliest section of the road provided access to paper, grist, fulling, saw, and powder mills that contributed to Philadelphia’s early industrial development. Inns, such as the Maple Spring Hotel, quickly sprang up along the turnpike to lodge and feed people traveling into and out of the city.

This first incarnation of Lincoln Drive was short-lived, however. Most of the mills along the Wissahickon Turnpike were gone within thirty years of the road’s construction. The city’s Fairmount Park Commission took title to lands in the Wissahickon River Valley in 1869 and 1870 and—to eliminate industrial discharges and protect water quality downstream—razed the mills. Still, the road, renamed Wissahickon Lane in the mid-1880s, remained open to provide access to the city’s growing park system and to the southern end of Germantown.

In the late 1890s, Wissahickon Lane was extended one and a half miles from Rittenhouse Town into the Mount Airy neighborhood. The combined length—the newly constructed section and the older mid-nineteenth century section—was given a new identity by being christened “Lincoln” in honor of the sixteenth U.S. president, though the road was known as Lincoln Avenue until an official name change to Lincoln Drive in 1931.

A Fortuitous Convergence

This extension of Wissahickon Lane and its renaming resulted from the concurrence of an exceptional opportunity and a growing demand. The opportunity was provided by the construction of a modern sewer system by the Public Works Department. The growing demand was for good roads due to booming sales of the first modern automobiles to wealthy residents of Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill.

[caption id="attachment_27823" align="alignright" width="300"]A view of an S-Curve on the Lincoln Drive. To the left of the curve is a creek, and a forest surrounds the scenic road. Lincoln Drive, linking Northwest Philadelphia to Center City, winds along the Wissahickon Creek and its tributaries. In this photograph, a view of Monoshone Creek (also known as Paper Mill Creek) can be seen on the left. (Library Company of Philadelphia)[/caption]

Philadelphia’s Public Works Department, in just one example of projects occurring across the city in the 1890s, channelized and buried in sewer pipes much of a small tributary of the Wissahickon called Monoshone Creek (also known as “Paper Mill Run” on some early maps). Then, between 1900 and 1909, the underground sewer was extended into Chestnut Hill and the branch’s entire length from Germantown to Chestnut Hill became known as the “Lincoln Avenue Interceptor.” This buried stream provided the alignment on which Lincoln Drive was built. (Streams and creeks elsewhere in the city met a similar fate, many of them with names still familiar today because of the roads that were constructed on top of them: Aramingo, Wingohocking, and Tacony, to name a few.)

This extension of Lincoln Drive provided a second major roadway connection to Center City. The other was Germantown Avenue, a historic, centuries-old road connecting Philadelphia to Chestnut Hill and to towns and cities to the north and west, including Reading, Allentown, and Bethlehem.

The covering of Monoshone Creek made possible the creation of Lincoln Drive, providing a routing and serving the functional and social interests of wealthy northwest neighborhood residents. By the early 1900s Germantown Avenue, still cobblestoned for much of its length, accommodated a busy electric trolley route, making it an inconvenient, uncomfortable, and slow route to use in early cars. Not only did the newly constructed Lincoln Avenue provide a faster route to Center City, it was built to be an aesthetically pleasing parkway in the City Beautiful tradition, an ideal road on which to drive. It complemented the two rail lines already serving the northwestern suburbs.

City Beautiful Influences

[caption id="attachment_27821" align="alignright" width="300"]A 1915 map of Northwest Philadelphia, with the Chestnut Hill neighborhood in the left center. The Lincoln Drive, with its proposed expansions, cuts through the center of the neighborhood from right to left. A 1915 map shows a proposed extension of Lincoln Drive through Pastorius Park and the Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Due to the Great Depression and neighborhood resistance, the extension never occurred. (PhillyHistory.org)[/caption]

This conception of Lincoln Avenue in the 1910s and 1920s—as a beautifully designed parkway in keeping with the principles of the City Beautiful movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—had a lasting impact on adjacent land uses into the 1940s and 1950s. A few commercial properties were established along Lincoln Avenue/Drive, including gas stations and automotive garages. But many residents criticized them for being unsightly and out of keeping with the intent of the roadway. Their opposition succeeded in leading City Council to pass an ordinance in 1930 to prohibit additional filling stations on Lincoln Drive between Mount Airy Avenue and Sedgwick Street. The ordinance was overturned by a Court of Common Pleas the following year, however, because it was deemed an unreasonable and discriminatory prohibition on competition (three gasoline stations already existed nearby). The gas stations remained, but only a few commercial businesses joined them in the following decades and the roadway maintained its primarily residential nature.

Even as the middle section of Lincoln Avenue was being constructed, developers, politicians, and city planners envisioned the extension of the road into Chestnut Hill. There it would connect to Bethlehem Pike and to a proposed bridge over the Wissahickon to link Chestnut Hill to Philadelphia’s Roxborough neighborhood and Main Line communities to the west. Pennsylvania State Senator George Woodward (1863-1952), son-in-law of Chestnut Hill developer Henry Howard Houston (1820-95), strongly advocated for the road and bridge investments. The Houston and Woodward families had substantial land holdings in northwest Philadelphia on both sides of the Wissahickon Creek, and faster and easier access to them would have significantly increased their value.

The extension was quickly initiated in the early 1900s, but in an incomplete and discontinuous manner that left a half-mile gap in the road between Allens Lane in Mount Airy and Cresheim Valley Road in Chestnut Hill and saw the road end at Abington Avenue, a half mile short of its envisioned connection to Bethlehem Pike. Although filling in the gaps remained a priority for many in Chestnut Hill, the Great Depression of the 1930s and the war years that followed left the proposals unfunded and unrealized.

In the 1950s, automobile ownership rose quickly and traffic volumes on Lincoln Drive increased rapidly, as they did on roads and highways throughout the city, the region, and the United States. Following public hearings organized by the city’s Board of Surveyors, some roadway modifications to increase vehicle capacity on Lincoln Drive were implemented, such as the widening of the drive from two to four lanes. But eventually, residents and business owners who had come to value the neighborhood’s reputation for exclusivity and quiet argued for keeping expansions to travel corridors in Chestnut Hill out of the heart of the neighborhood. In the early 1960s, those arguments won out and city planners dropped proposals for any additional work on Lincoln Drive from official city documents. The northern segment of Lincoln Drive remained a discontinuous and less-traveled section of the road.

Rising Car Ownership

[caption id="attachment_27824" align="alignright" width="300"]A color photograph of the Wissahickon Memorial Bridge, a two-ribbed, open-spandrel, reinforced concrete bridge. Lincoln Drive passes under the Wissahickon Memorial Bridge, a two-ribbed, open-spandrel, reinforced concrete bridge completed in 1932. (Photograph by Doug Kerr)[/caption]

By the turn of the twenty-first century, rising car ownership rates and ongoing development in Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill resulted in another change in the character of Lincoln Drive. By 2000, it had become a major route for commuters traveling from the northwestern neighborhoods of Philadelphia to Center City via the drive’s southern end, where motorists continued along the Schuylkill River via Interstate 76 (on the west bank) or Kelly Drive (on the east). Traffic volumes rose to a high level: tens of thousands of cars used the southernmost section of Lincoln Drive every day, with volumes tapering down to the low single-digit thousands in the northernmost section in Chestnut Hill. Because of the drive’s traffic volumes, narrow lanes, and winding route, buses and large commercial trucks were prohibited from using it.

While Lincoln Drive did not match the traffic volumes or crash counts of Philadelphia’s most dangerous roadways, such as Roosevelt Boulevard in the city’s Northeast, it developed a reputation for being a risky route. Commuters regularly traveled at double its posted 25 mph speed limit. And serious accidents, some causing major injuries and fatalities, occurred regularly, such as the 1982 crash on Lincoln Drive near Rittenhouse Street that left Philadelphia native and R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass (1950-2010) a paraplegic.

None of the 4.1 miles of Lincoln Drive existed before the mid-1850s, nearly two centuries after the founding of the city of Philadelphia by William Penn in 1682, but the eventual road and its alignment became reminders of the economic, infrastructure, and natural histories of the city. The beauty of the southern section’s setting along the Wissahickon Creek was impossible to miss, the history preserved in the Rittenhouse Town Historic District evoked the city’s industrial past, and the leafy early twentieth century neighborhoods of Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill illustrated the connection between residential development and investments in transportation infrastructure.

Bradley Flamm is the Director of Sustainability at West Chester University, an academic who has taught at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, a transportation planner, and a resident of Northwest Philadelphia. He is grateful to the Philadelphia Streets Department’s Michael Carroll and Frank Morelli, the Philadelphia Free Library’s Alina Josan, and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission’s David Schaaf for their assistance in researching this article.

Police Athletic League

Since 1914, police officers in urban areas have seen the need for better relations between the police and local youth as a means of reducing crime and promoting wholesome play under proper supervision. In that spirit, the first Police Athletic League (PAL) in the greater Philadelphia area formed in North Philadelphia in 1947 “to build positive relationships between youth, the communities in which they live, and the dedicated men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department.” Since its inception, the organization has provided neighborhood youth with a sanctuary from the criminal activities that plagued major urban areas.

[caption id="attachment_27647" align="alignright" width="233"]A PAL officer hangs out with two PAL children in front of a PAL building. An off-duty officer talks with teenagers at a Police Athletic League center in 1971. Locally, PAL formed in 1947 to build relationships between youth, their communities, and the Philadelphia Police Department. (Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries)[/caption]

The Police Athletic League originated in New York City, but quickly expanded to other cities and towns over the course of the twentieth century. In New York, Police Commissioner Arthur Woods (1870-1942) and Captain John Sweeney (1879-1963) founded PAL in 1914. Seeing the need for better relations between the police and the city’s youth, Woods closed off city blocks to serve as “play streets” for urban youth, and Sweeney organized the Junior Police, an organization that taught discipline and good citizenship. PAL originally provided a forum for off-duty police officers to coach youngsters how to play various sports. In the 1960s and 1970s, a number of chapters, responding to changing times, added choir, dance, drama, photography, art, and poetry programs that continued into the 2000s.

PAL of Philadelphia originally consisted of only one Philadelphia Police Department sergeant, August “Gus” Rangnow (1892-1972), who oversaw PAL’s sandlot baseball program. By the 1960s, with the help of prominent athletes and coaches as volunteers, the Philadelphia PAL had nineteen centers across the city offering a variety of after-school programs, including ceramics, arts and crafts, baseball, football, basketball, and boxing. The Twenty-Third district PAL at Twenty-Second Street and Columbia Avenue served as a training facility  for well-known Philadelphia professional boxers such as Bennie Briscoe (1943-2010), Joe Frazier (1944-2011), Gypsy Joe Harris (1945-90), Jimmy Young (1948-2005), Bobby Watts (b. 1949), and Tyrone Crawley (b. 1958). Frazier, a 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist and former World Heavyweight Champion, received his first boxing lesson in a PAL ring.

Mayor Frank Rizzo’s Support

[caption id="attachment_27646" align="alignright" width="253"]Joe Frazier poses with his fist raised opposite of PAL kids. In the background of the photograph is Police Commissioner Joseph O'Neill. Joe Frazier (right), who received his first boxing lesson in a Police Athletic League ring, poses with PAL members and Police Commissioner Joseph O’Neill in 1972. (Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries)[/caption]

Philadelphia Police Commissioner and Mayor Frank L. Rizzo (1920-91), who saw the organization as a valuable tool for promoting good citizenship and deterring juvenile delinquency, strongly supported PAL. As commissioner, he assigned some of his top officers to serve as coaches and mentors. During Rizzo’s term as mayor, PAL served as many as thirty-five thousand children, generating donations of financial gifts and tickets to professional sports events. In Rizzo’s first year in office, a delegation of local PAL youth met President Richard Nixon (1913-94) in the White House. PAL of Philadelphia also became well-known for promoting patriotism through pledges of allegiance to the United States. Young people involved in PAL signed oaths of allegiance, which were sent to the mayor’s office, and at times, on to other state and national politicians.

Although concerns about liability forced PAL of Philadelphia to shut down its boxing program in 1986, the organization continued to offer other after-school programs to the city’s youth. In 2017, with a Philadelphia headquarters at 3068 Belgrade Street and an additional eighteen PAL centers throughout city, the organization offered twelve athletic programs, including baseball, basketball, indoor soccer, and wrestling. After-school education programs included mentorship, homework clubs, and literacy programs. PAL also offered a number of special events such as  PAL Night at the Phillies and PAL Day at City Hall.

[caption id="attachment_27644" align="alignright" width="233"]A black and white photograph of a Police Athletic League officer standing over the shoulder of a teenage woman, as she paints a ceramic sculpture. A Police Athletic League officer instructs a teenager in ceramic sculpting, part of an expansion of PAL programs into arts programs during the 1960s. (Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries)[/caption]

The greater Philadelphia area was home to a number of other PAL locations. The Atlantic City PAL, opened in 1972, housed one of the East Coast’s finest boxing programs, which produced numerous amateur and professional champions such as Leavander Johnson (1969-2005) who held the IBF World Lightweight Title in 2005. This Atlantic City PAL gained notoriety as the temporary training grounds for out-of-town fighters such as Evander Holyfield (b. 1962), Mickey Ward (b. 1965), and Mike Tyson (b. 1966) leading up to marquee bouts at Boardwalk Hall. Besides boxing, the Atlantic City PAL ran a variety of athletic and educational programs for city youth such as Foosball and a computer lab. Police Athletic Leagues also sprung up in urban areas around Philadelphia such as Camden (founded in 1973) and Wilmington (founded in 2002).

In the Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, area, former professional boxer and Schuylkill Township police officer James “Jimmy” Deoria (b. 1970) founded a PAL in 1999. Like many police officers before him, Deoria was inspired to give local youth a place to go and stay off the streets. Former welterweight boxing contender Ronald Cruz (b. 1986) trained in this gym before being forced to retire due to an eye injury. Although the Phoenixville Area PAL began with boxing, it expanded to other programs such as golf and babysitting classes.

Since its inception, the Philadelphia PAL had a direct impact on decreasing crime in areas of traditionally higher crime in the city. From 2010 to 2012, juvenile arrests decreased by 39 percent near the Harrowgate PAL and 16 percent near the Oxford Circle PAL.

From 1947 to 2017, residents of the greater Philadelphia Area witnessed the expansion and evolution of the Police Athletic League throughout the region. Despite changes in programs over its long history, the organization maintained its central commitment to providing a safe place for children to hone their athletic, academic, and social skills, thus living up to PAL motto, “Cops Helping Kids.”

Matthew Ward is a graduate student in History at Rutgers University—Camden. He graduated from Arizona State University in 2007 with a B.A. in History and Culture. He has worked in financial services for over seven years and serves as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. He is also an Army veteran who served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2010 to 2011.

South Street (Song)

“South Street,” a hit song for the Philadelphia vocal group the Orlons in 1963, celebrates an iconic Philadelphia thoroughfare and is among a select group of songs that came to define the city in popular culture in the late twentieth century. The song’s catchy opening line—“Where do all the hippies meet? South Street, South Street”—became a well-known refrain for generations of Philadelphians.

[caption id="attachment_26676" align="alignright" width="300"]Album Cover for the Album South Street by The Orlons. “South Street” featured a snappy mid-tempo dance beat and with a short but rocking saxophone solo in the middle. (Photograph provided by Charles J. Cizek)[/caption]

“South Street” reached number three on the pop music charts in April 1963 and brought national attention to a street whose history as a lively Philadelphia entertainment and commercial corridor dates to the mid-eighteenth century. South Street formed the southern boundary of the city of Philadelphia until 1854. Beginning in the 1750s theaters were established on the southern side of South Street, immediately outside the city limits and beyond the legal reach of conservative city officials and Quaker leaders who viewed theater as an immoral activity.

In the first decade of the nineteenth century, African Americans began to concentrate in the area around Sixth and South Streets, creating Philadelphia’s largest predominantly black neighborhood. Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, established in 1794 one block to the north at Sixth and Lombard, drew many of Philadelphia’s free blacks to settle in the area. As the city’s African American population grew in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, fueled in large part by the Great Migration of southern blacks to cities of the North, the African American community extended westward beyond Broad Street to the Schuylkill River. All along South Street east and west of Broad were black restaurants, theaters, clubs, and businesses. At the same time, the eastern section of South Street became home to other ethnic groups, including Irish, Italians, Poles, and Jews, many of whom arrived as poor unskilled immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and found employment and cheap housing in the area.

The South Street that the Orlons sang about in 1963 as “the hippest street in town” represented another phase in the street’s long and colorful history. The emergence of South Street as a countercultural center in the 1960s was an indirect result of government plans announced in the 1950s to build a crosstown expressway along the South Street corridor that would link the I-95 and Schuylkill expressways. With the demolition of much of South Street imminent in the late 1950s and early 1960s, property values declined significantly and the area became a low-rent haven for bohemians and artists. A lively counterculture took shape along South Street, while a group of local residents and business owners actively fought the expressway plans. Their efforts were ultimately successful, and South Street survived as a funky urban thoroughfare populated by artists, musicians, hipsters, and the businesses and arts organizations that served them. It was the early stages of this culture that the Orlons celebrated in their 1963 song. The word “hippie” featured so prominently in the song was then just beginning to come into common usage. “South Street” may in fact be the first song in which the word was ever used. At the time, “hippie” referred not to the long-haired free spirits of the late 1960s, but to their precursors, the beatniks and hipsters of the 1950s and early 1960s.

[caption id="attachment_26674" align="alignright" width="300"]Street View of Overbrook High School in 1926. The Orlons were not the only famous alumni from Overbrook High School—others included Wilt Chamberlin, inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979, and actor/musician Will Smith. (PhillyHistory.org)[/caption]

The Orlons were an African American vocal group that formed at Overbrook High School in West Philadelphia in the 1950s. The group went through various personnel changes over the years but during its early 1960s heyday it was a quartet consisting of singers Stephen Caldwell (b. 1942), Shirley Brickley (1944–77), Marlena Davis (1944–93), and Rosetta Hightower (1944–2014). The group took its name from the fabric of one of Stephen Caldwell’s sweaters—the Dupont product, Orlon. The idea of using a fabric for the group name came from another West Philadelphia vocal group with which the Orlons sometimes traded gigs, the Cashmeres. The Cashmeres later became the Dovells and had several hits with the Philadelphia record label Cameo Parkway Records beginning in 1961.

At the suggestion of Dovells lead singer Len Barry (real name Leonard Borisoff, b. 1943), the Orlons auditioned for Cameo Parkway and eventually got a record deal with the company. After two unsuccessful releases, the Orlons hit big with “Wah-Watusi” and “Don’t Hang Up,” which in 1962 reached numbers two and four, respectively, on the Billboard Top 100 charts. “South Street,” released in early 1963, entered the charts in February and remained there for thirteen weeks, peaking at number three for two weeks in April. Two other Orlons songs—“Not Me” and “Crossfire”— reached the Top 20 in 1963, but that was the end of the group’s recording success. Personal issues and changing musical tastes in the mid-1960s led to the Orlons’ decline. The group disbanded in the late 1960s (although some members reunited and began performing as the Orlons again in the 1980s).

“South Street” was written by songwriter Kal Mann (real name Kalman Cohen, 1917–2001) and guitarist, arranger, and producer Dave Appell (1922–2014), two of the main architects of the very successful Cameo Parkway sound of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Along with company founder, pianist and record producer Bernie Lowe (real name Bernard Lowenthal, 1917–93), they were responsible for a long string of hits in this period. Cameo Parkway’s success was helped in no small part by Lowe’s close friendship with Dick Clark (1929–2012), host of the enormously popular Philadelphia teen music and dance TV show American Bandstand, which broadcast nationally from Philadelphia from 1957 to 1964. Clark regularly showcased Cameo Parkway artists such as the Orlons on his program.

“South Street” featured a snappy mid-tempo dance beat and a rather simple small combo musical arrangement, with a short but rocking saxophone solo in the middle. It is the vocals that make the song: the tight female harmonies, set off by Hightower’s soaring lead vocal, Caldwell’s “frog voice” deep bass interjections, and occasional shout-outs from Brickley and Davis. A lively, engaging tune, “South Street” was a longtime favorite at area dances and took its place as a key song in the Philadelphia pop music canon.

Jack McCarthy is a music historian who regularly writes, lectures, and gives walking tours on Philadelphia music history. A certified archivist, he recently directed a major project for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania focusing on the archival collections of the region’s many small historical repositories. Jack serves as consulting archivist for the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Mann Music Center and worked on the 2014 radio documentary Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio. He gave several presentations and helped produce the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s 2016 Philadelphia music series, “Memories & Melodies.”

Bradley Flamm

Bradley Flamm is the Director of Sustainability at West Chester University, an academic who has taught at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, a transportation planner, and a resident of Northwest Philadelphia.


Lotteries have a long and controversial history in the Philadelphia region. Since the early eighteenth century, random drawings of numbers have funded charities and clubs, paid for roads and schools, settled estates, distributed land, and promoted various private and state-run initiatives. Lotteries have drawn multitudes of customers seeking cash and other prizes, but over three centuries they have cycled between widespread acceptance and outright prohibition. The economist Adam Smith (1723–90) viewed lotteries as a destructive “tax on ignorance,” while Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) saw them as a beneficial “voluntary tax.” This ambivalence reflected both the difficulties of regulation and underlying class, race, and ethnic discord. In the Philadelphia region, Quakers led the earliest and most effective crusades against public, or government-sanctioned, lotteries.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="271"]A color photograph of a two-pence lottery ticket from the 1748 Philadelphia lottery. During the colonial era, lotteries in Philadelphia served a quasi-official function providing funds to public projects such as fire companies and militias. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)[/caption]

Early colonists relied heavily on lotteries to raise revenue in a way that did not involve direct governmental intervention. Seventeenth-century joint-stock ventures such as the Virginia Company introduced English practices and attitudes about the lottery to North America, luring settlers with promises of riches. William Penn (1644–1718) did not fund his colony with similar schemes, but lotteries soon became a hub of Pennsylvania’s economy. In 1720, the American Weekly Mercury advertised Philadelphia’s first known drawing; the prize was a house at Third and Arch Streets. Private lotteries—neither endorsed nor outlawed by the assembly—financed the city’s infrastructure of roads, bridges, market houses, and wharves. Printers were well positioned to benefit from consumers’ growing appetite for chance. Benjamin Franklin (1706–90) advertised drawings, printed tickets, and organized lotteries to distribute land, fund associations such as fire companies, and establish a militia in 1747. Such lotteries were quasi-official: corporation and commonwealth authorities frequently served as lottery managers, selecting spaces such as the courthouse for public drawings.

After 1740, political turnover, the introduction of games from neighboring colonies, and demographic shifts expanded the lottery’s influence in the region. Reflecting a religious aversion to games of chance, Quakers wielded their waning influence in the colonial assembly to ban private lotteries in 1762, following decades of attempts. The ban had little effect. Quakers lacked the power to ensure its enforcement, especially as entrepreneurs from Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland flooded the local market with games to fund the Seven Years’ War. Nearby Petty’s Island attracted lottery managers, whose broadsides promising property, jewelry, artwork, and cash prizes drew mixed crowds of Philadelphians. Within the city itself, taverns, coffeehouses, and peddlers also did a brisk business selling tickets for these so-termed “foreign” schemes. Lax regulations and proximity to Philadelphia made Delaware the mid-Atlantic hub of the colonial lottery trade, drawing customers (“adventurers”) as eminent as George Washington (1732–99), whose signed lottery tickets became sought-after ephemera. In the colonial interior, meanwhile, immigrants introduced and managed their own games of chance, as German-language lottery advertisements show.

Lotteries After Independence

[caption id="attachment_25864" align="alignright" width="241"]A black and white photograph of United States Lottery tickets. During the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress attempted to fund the war effort through a nationwide lottery. (Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries)[/caption]

The work of building a new nation justified a new wave of lotteries after independence. Congress authorized the United States Lottery in November 1776 to raise $1.5 million for the war effort. It was to be held in four drawings, or classes, but mismanagement, poor distribution of tickets, and currency depreciation forced managers to postpone the first class and cancel the rest. By its conclusion in May 1778, the lottery had grossed only $100,000 for the government. The failed experiment at a national lottery did not discourage the founding generation from using lotteries to build a more unified nation. As postwar economic conditions improved, local elites prevailed on state lawmakers to formally sanction lotteries by passing charters. From 1796 to 1808, the Pennsylvania legislature chartered seventy-eight schemes, mostly to expand the state’s nascent transportation system. Delaware and New Jersey chartered several lotteries for colleges and courthouses. State charters typically contracted a small cadre of local elites to manage, and derive income from, schemes. Framing their work as a public good, managers adorned tickets and broadsides with images of national progress: schools, churches, roads, bridges, and canals.

Despite these overt claims to the commonweal, a series of controversies starting in 1811 contributed to the public’s growing perception that lotteries were less about civic initiative and more about profiteering. In 1811, Pennsylvania lawmakers chartered the Union Canal Lottery to raise $340,000 to revive a moribund canal project linking the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Rivers. Between 1811 and 1833, the lottery distributed $33 million in prizes but raised only $124,000, prompting allegations of waste and corruption by its managers, which included Henry Yates (1770–1854) and Archibald McIntyre (1772–1858) of New York. Using new marketing tactics, the firm of Yates & McIntyre helped to transform the lottery from a local enterprise to a national one after 1820. With networks of ticket brokers along the eastern seaboard, Yates & McIntyre and other lottery managers expanded the availability of foreign, or out-of-state, schemes. Moreover, by introducing the sale of half, quarter, and even one-sixteenth shares in tickets, managers drew more adventurers from Philadelphia’s laboring classes.

As lottery offices thronged the city’s streetscape in the mid-1820s, Philadelphia’s Quaker reformers spearheaded an anti-lottery crusade that spread into a national abolition movement in the 1830s. In 1817, the Pennsylvania Society for the Promotion of Public Economy became the first local reform association to single out lotteries as sources of vice and poverty among the urban poor. By the late 1820s, anti-vice reformers and workingmen’s parties developed sharper moral and political-economic critiques. Their efforts, coupled with lawmakers’ embarrassment over the Union Canal boondoggle, set off a series of inquiries and litigation. In 1833, Governor George Wolf (1777–1840) signed an act abolishing lottery charters. Yet the statewide ban meant little if foreign tickets circulated widely. Led by a young Quaker lawyer, Job Roberts Tyson (1803–58), the Pennsylvania Society for the Suppression of Lotteries (established in 1834) corresponded with anti-lottery activists in other cities, published pamphlets and articles, and hosted lectures to drum up support for anti-lottery laws across the country. By 1860, only three states still chartered lotteries. Delaware, where the Wilmington brokerage firm Wood, Eddy & Company survived legislative challenges in the 1850s, was one of them.

Church Raffles and Gift Concerts

The Civil War rolled back many of these legislative victories. Delaware- and Kentucky-based firms maintained ticket offices in the region throughout the war. As the war dragged on, Philadelphia joined other cities in organizing church raffles, gift concerts, and other drawings to raise funds for injured soldiers and other causes. After the war, many southern and western states chartered lotteries to build or rebuild towns and roads. The largest and most controversial was the Louisiana State Lottery, granted a twenty-five-year state charter in 1868. Its innovative advertising and use of federal mails made the lottery ubiquitous in the Mid-Atlantic and across the country. By the late 1870s, the Louisiana Lottery sold 90 percent of its tickets out-of-state. Its concealed printing press in Delaware ensured a steady supply of tickets in the region. As court cases and controversies mounted, the federal government stepped in, outlawing the use of the mail for lotteries in 1890 and banning all shipments of lottery tickets and advertisements in 1895.

The effective abolition of state gaming did not stem popular interest in lotteries. During the nineteenth century, a culture of informal gaming loosely based on lotteries thrived in cities such as Philadelphia, particularly among immigrants and African Americans. Job Tyson and other antebellum observers noted the popularity of policy games, a type of side bet wherein people purchased “insurance” in the event certain numbers were not called. After abolition in 1890, clandestine lotteries became integral urban leisure outlets. Authorities were unable or unwilling to curb underground lotteries due to political pressure, police bribes, and challenges in identifying and prosecuting operators. Philadelphia’s criminal syndicates operated imported lotteries such as the Havana Lottery, French National Lottery, and Irish Sweepstake; photos of police raids in the 1930s and 1940s document their sophistication and popularity. In the 1920s, African American entrepreneurs in Philadelphia and other northern cities developed the numbers game, offering customers the ability to choose their own numbers and gamble small sums daily.

[caption id="attachment_25866" align="alignright" width="300"]A black and white photograph of a line of people wating to buy lottery tickets from the newly formed Pennsylvania Lottery. The Pennsylvania Lottery was reinstated in 1971, lifting a 138-year-old ban on lotteries in the state.(Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries)[/caption]

Several factors led to state lotteries’ resurgence after 1950. Fiscal emergencies spurred debates about reauthorizing state and federal schemes during the Great Depression and World War II. Moreover, public support for government-operated lotteries remained robust. New Jersey was one of the first states to legalize bingo (1954), a precursor to lotteries’ reintroduction in New Hampshire in 1964. In 1969, 81 percent of New Jersey voters supported a state lottery, which began in 1971. In August 1971, state lawmakers authorized the Pennsylvania Lottery to provide property tax relief for seniors, ending the state’s 138-year-long abolition of lotteries. Lotteries resumed in Delaware in 1974. Fraud remained an issue despite stronger oversight. In the 1980s “Triple Six Fix,” seven Pennsylvania Lottery officials weighted balls to ensure only certain numbers were drawn. Pervasive advertising and the advent of new games such as instant (scratch-off) lotteries in the 1970s and multistate Powerball in the 1980s fueled the industry’s growth as a national confederation of state lotteries. In 1991, Pennsylvania Lottery historical ticket sales surpassed $15 billion. In an era of backlash against income and corporate taxes, mid-Atlantic states relied more on lotteries to fund education, health, and transportation programs after 2000.

With its social diversity, tradition of reform, and cluster of states with robust lotteries, the greater Philadelphia region has had a unique relationship with lotteries. Many of the features that distinguished it in the early colonial period continued to do so in the twenty-first century. Critics still claimed lotteries preyed on the poor, promoted illegality, and were inefficient. Advertisers played on the same dreams of instant and life-altering wealth as they did in 1750, and media publicized stories of people winning a fortune and then losing it all. Finally, both state-run and informal lotteries remained entrenched in the local economy and leisure culture of greater Philadelphia, as the ubiquity of roadside “Lotto” signs attested.

Robert Gamble is a lecturer of history at the University of Kansas. He researches the history of regulation, capitalism, and urban space and has published articles on the antebellum secondhand trade and colonial peddlers in the Mid-Atlantic.

Iron Production

Long before western Pennsylvania dominated the American iron and steel industries, southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey became the epicenter of colonial iron production. In a little over forty years beginning in 1716, Pennsylvania ironmasters erected nearly fifty furnaces and forges for producing iron stock and goods, and by 1840 the region’s national preeminence had been secured—Pennsylvania’s two hundred charcoal furnaces produced 286,000 tons of iron (half the national total), achieving a more than fivefold increase in just thirty years. The foundation for this stupendous ascent began in colonial New Jersey, the birthplace of charcoal-fueled iron production in the Middle-Atlantic region.

Industrial iron production, which originated in North America with the Hammersmith Works (est. 1643) at Saugus, Massachusetts, began in New Jersey in 1674 at the Tinton Falls Ironworks near Shrewsbury, Monmouth County. Ironworks opened in Burlington County, New Jersey, by 1715, and by 1730 Isaac Pearson (c.1685-1749) and his partners had fired the Mount Holly Ironworks—one of the oldest in southern New Jersey. In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, Berks County’s Thomas Rutter (c.1660-1730) ignited Pennsylvania’s first forge, Pool Forge, in 1716 and Colebrookdale Furnace in 1720.

[caption id="attachment_24597" align="alignright" width="300"]A photograph of two small pieces of bog iron. Limonite, better known as bog iron, was the basis for iron production in southern New Jersey. (Photograph by Arthur Murphy for The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia)[/caption]

Geographically and geologically, the counties of southern New Jersey were particularly well suited to charcoal-fueled iron production. A chemical reaction between the tannin-rich waters of the Pine Barrens and underlying iron-rich green sands and marls formed iron-rich deposits of limonite, also known as bog iron or bog ore. Bog ore could be harvested from the banks and beds of the region’s swamps and wet meadows with little effort. For fuel, colliers converted tens of thousands of acres of hardwood forests in the west and pines in the sandy east to charcoal. Coastal shell beds could be processed into lime and used as flux. In addition, southern New Jersey’s tidal creeks performed a double service by empowering bellows and massive trip hammers and floating iron from the interior to markets on the Delaware River and beyond. In Pennsylvania the forested Delaware, Schuylkill, and Susquehanna River Valleys provided ironmasters with fuel and waterpower. In contrast to southern New Jersey, where bog iron was easily harvested, Pennsylvania’s ironworkers had to mine natural deposits of magnetite, hematite, and carbonate to secure ore. In the absence of shell beds limestone deposits served as flux for their furnaces.

The earliest colonial ironworkers typically operated simple furnaces known as bloomeries or Catalan forges. In these forges bloomsmen smelted (extracted) workable iron directly from base iron ore or from molten “pig” iron produced by the furnace. While some ironmasters anticipated shipping their iron stock to Britain, most sold to local craftsmen who produced wrought-iron nails, tools, hardware, wheel rims, and horseshoes for domestic markets, or directly to local merchants and consumers as cast-iron hollow ware and stoves.  

[caption id="attachment_25357" align="alignright" width="300"]A black and white photograph of the manor house at the Batsto iron plantation, in its late ninenteenth century Italianate form. The owner of the Batsto iron plantation, along with the workers, lived on the plantation. When Joseph Wharton, a Philadelphia businessman, bought Batsto in 1876 he renovated the former home of the plantation owner into the Italianate style pictured here. (Library of Congress)[/caption]

Early ironworks in southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania operated as nominally self-sufficient iron plantations. The ironmaster, founders, fillers, guttermen and colliers (some slaves, some freemen) lived on the plantation with their families. They shopped in company stores, and their children went to company schools. In addition to the furnaces and the “big house,” plantations frequently featured sawmills and gristmills, fields and orchards, stables and corncribs. Perhaps the best documented plantations were those developed by Charles Read (1715-74) of Burlington City and his partners from Philadelphia and New York between 1765 and 1767. They built New Jersey’s Atsion (1765-c.1846), Batsto (1766-c.1850), Etna (c.1766-73), and Taunton (c.1776-c.1830) ironworks. Well-preserved and well-documented ironworks in southeastern Pennsylvania include Hopewell Furnace (1771-1883) established by ironmaster Mark Bird (1738-1812), Cornwall Furnace (1742-1883) established by Peter Grubb (c.1702-54), and Johanna Furnace (1791-1898).

[caption id="attachment_24598" align="alignright" width="300"]A black and white photograph of the old furnace in Cornwall, Pennsylvania. The Cornwall Furnace in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, pictured here, opened in 1742, continued operation into the mid-nineteenth century, and closed in 1883. (Library of Congress)[/caption]

During the eighteenth century, domestic demand for bar iron, cast iron, and iron products increased while English iron production experienced stresses like Queen Anne’s War (1702-13). In response, mid-Atlantic colonial iron makers invested in a more efficient, indirect method of iron smelting that permitted greater yields than the bloomery forge. By using a blast furnace that operated at a significantly higher temperature, smelters were able to convert iron ore to a stew of molten metal and slag; the liquefied iron could then be drawn off into molds. To produce workable iron like that from a bloomery forge, the molten iron could be further processed in a finery forge and shingled to produce more flexible and ductile bar iron.

The indirect method of smelting was more complicated, required substantially more labor, and initial costs were high, but this indirect smelting process was more fuel-efficient. Using the indirect method, even poor grade ores could be employed to produce high grade iron. To meet the demand of growing markets, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries other technologies that increased efficiencies, lowered costs, and expanded the range of domestic and industrial products available were adopted, including the slitting mill, the rolling mill, and the coal-fired puddling furnace. By 1750 American ironmasters became major suppliers of iron to British manufactures and by 1775 they were the third-largest producers of iron in the world.

Iron production in the hinterland provided Philadelphia with plentiful supplies of coal, coke, and pig iron, which supported craftsmen and manufacturers in the city. By 1810 Philadelphia became home to several dozen iron-dependent manufacturing interests—carriage makers, gun factories, naileries, saw factories, and more—as well as several hundred blacksmiths. By the 1870s nearly two hundred fifty blacksmiths and nine hundred manufacturers of iron goods (and one blast furnace) could be found in the city. Manufacturers produced hardware, hollowware, and stoves; steam engines and boiler plate; locomotives and ships; and iron stock (bar iron and sheet iron). Nineteenth-century iron goods manufacturers in and around Philadelphia included the Schuylkill Ironworks at Conshohocken (est. 1837), a rolling mill that produced sheet and plate iron; the Port Richmond Ironworks of I.P. Morris, Towne & Co. on the Delaware, which produced machinery, steam engines, and boilers (est. 1845); the Baldwin Locomotive Works (c. 1831-1920s); and, the William Cramp & Sons Ship and Engine Building Company shipyard (1830-1927).

Although a few iron plantations persisted into the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most were gradually supplanted by the 1840s. In southern New Jersey, difficulties became evident by the early nineteenth century when most ironworks, having exhausted local supplies, had to import both fuel and iron ore by barge. At the same time charcoal-fueled iron production could not compete with newer, more efficient furnaces that employed anthracite and coke-fueled hot-blast technology. Furthermore, while charcoal iron was suitable for products such as agricultural implements and nails, railroads and other nineteenth-century industries preferred more durable hot-blast iron produced with anthracite coal and coke. Iron producers in southeastern Pennsylvania fared somewhat better. The advent of new smelting processes and technologies that employed coal or coke as fuel, together with the discovery of high grade mineral ores in the interior, competition from English producers, and cyclical market fluctuations, caused a gradual shift of the center of the iron industry to the north and west. There, ironworks could be established closer to Pennsylvania’s anthracite and bituminous coal deposits and sources of high-grade mineral ore. Those ironworks in southeastern Pennsylvania that managed to remain competitive into the twentieth century did so by producing technically complex specialty products like boiler-plate, mechanical components, ship hulls, and steel.

[caption id="attachment_25620" align="alignright" width="300"]At Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the remains of an iron furnace call attention to the region's history in iron production. (Library of Congress) At Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the remains of an iron furnace call attention to the region's history in iron production. (Library of Congress)[/caption]

By the end of the nineteenth century, the last of the charcoal iron forges and furnaces in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey were cold and quiet. Even older operations that adopted new technologies and fuels gradually fell to larger, more efficient competitors in the West. By the 1880s the Durham Furnaces  (c. 1850–c.1887) and Bristol Forge (c. 1844–before c. 1878) of Bucks County were shuttered, as well as Merion Furnace (c. 1847-1880) and Norristown Furnace (c. 1869-1874) in Montgomery County; Isabella Furnace (c. 1835-1880) and Hibernia Rolling Mill (c. 1835- before c. 1880) in Chester County; and the Old Sable Iron Works in Delaware County (c. 1808-before 1875). Nonetheless, Pennsylvania’s iron producers and manufacturers remained competitive into the twentieth century by adopting new technologies and developing new products. Not until the latter twentieth century did the widespread deindustrialization of the American economy finally crush iron and iron-goods production in Pennsylvania, destabilizing the economy of entire regions, depopulating once thriving cities, and initiating a decades-long search for ways to reclaim the prosperity that the iron industry once provided.

Brian Albright is a graduate of Rutgers University-Camden and Senior Historian at engineering firm AECOM in Burlington, New Jersey. His interests include the industrial, labor, and social history of Philadelphia in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and the environmental history of the mid-Atlantic region.

National Guard

The roots of the National Guard can be traced to Philadelphia and congressional action during the city’s decade as the nation’s capital. The contributions and shortcomings of the colonial militia during the War of Independence, combined with cultural and political mistrust of standing military forces, spurred Congress to define how the United States would defend itself from foreign and domestic aggression. The result was the Militia Act of 1792, which standardized regulations for militia companies throughout the states. This act was the first in a series of developments that gradually led to the creation of the modern National Guard.

Volunteer militias formed and disbanded in the Philadelphia region throughout the nineteenth century as needed for domestic unrest and major military conflicts, including the War of 1812 and Mexican-American War. Following the Civil War, in 1870, the Pennsylvania militia companies formally changed their name to “The National Guard of Pennsylvania,” almost fifty years before the federal government adopted the term. Several prominent Philadelphia military organizations with lineages dating back to the Revolution became part of the statewide body, including the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, Washington Grays of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia “Associators.”

Similarly, New Jersey militia companies consolidated into state regiments that eventually folded into U.S. Army divisions. The 1st New Jersey Regiment, originally mustered for the Continental Army and revived during the Civil War, in 1869 became the “New Jersey National Guard,” which also encompassed the 3rd New Jersey Regiment from Burlington and Camden Counties. Delaware, despite the state’s small geographic size and population, had 564 organized militia companies in 1891, many of them with long lineages dating to the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Unlike Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Delaware’s militia companies remained independent throughout the eighteenth century.

The 1877 Railroad Strike

[caption id="attachment_25167" align="alignright" width="300"]An engraving of National Guardsmen marching in formation in front of the Homestead Steel Plant. In response to violence at the Homestead Steel Plant in 1892, the governor of Pennsylvania sent over eight thousand troops from the Pennsylvania National Guard to Homestead, near Pittsburgh. (Library of Congress)[/caption]

The first major mobilization of the Pennsylvania National Guard was not caused by trouble abroad but trouble at home and resulted in tragedy. In 1877, the Great Railroad Strike caused a massive labor stoppage and protests engulfed several major cities, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. After the Pittsburgh militia proved insubordinate to state orders to quell the unrest, Gov. John F. Hartranft (1830-89) ordered troops of the First Division of National Guard from Philadelphia to disperse a large crowd of protesters at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Railroad Depot. Arriving on the scene on July 21, the outnumbered troops faced a crowd of more than twelve thousand strikers and sympathizers and the situation quickly deteriorated. As the guardsman advanced, the crowd did not back down, troops fired into the fray, and the violent clash killed twenty people. A full-scale riot ensued and drove the Philadelphians from the yard. It was up to the U.S. Army to finally restore order.

Philadelphia and the surrounding counties contributed several National Guard regiments to the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War, the first major conflict in which the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware National Guards were mustered for federal service. In total, fourteen regiments formed, including six from the Philadelphia area. The First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry—once the personal guard for General George Washington (1732-99) and the oldest unit in the National Guard--reformed and joined two Philadelphia Volunteer Artillery Batteries and the Volunteer Infantry Regiments at camp near Lebanon, Pennsylvania. After the initial muster and drill, the majority remained state-side, but the 4th Pennsylvania Infantry saw action during the Puerto Rican campaign near Guayama in August 1898. Their only combat action was cut short by the announcement of the armistice on the same day.

Four New Jersey National Guard regiments were raised during the Spanish American War and were sent to camps in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in preparation for deployment in the Caribbean. Delaware also raised about five hundred troops in ten companies. The New Jersey and Delaware National Guard did not leave the United States, but nevertheless lost dozens of men to disease and accidents while encamped in southern states.

[caption id="attachment_25165" align="alignright" width="300"]Black and white photograph of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry escorting General John Pershing during a parade in 1919. During the American Revolution, the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry served as the personal bodyguard of General George Washington. In this photograph, the First Troop continued a traditional role, escorting General John Pershing in 1919. (Library Company of Philadelphia)[/caption]

By the time of the Great War (1914-18), the federal Efficiency in Militia Act had created the modern National Guard system. Drawing upon prior militia legislation, the 1903 act sought to improve the efficiency, standardization, and armament of the National Guard; formalized the circumstances in which the National Guard could be federalized and deployed; and established the Corp of Reserve Officers.

World War I

Under the new law, National Guard units of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware were called into federal service several times during the twentieth century. During the First World War, which gave the National Guard its first experience in intense direct combat, Philadelphia units consisting of the 111th Infantry Regiment (the “Associators”), the 104th Cavalry Regiment (the First Troop City Cavalry), and the 108th Field Artillery joined units from the Pittsburgh region to form the 28th Infantry Division. This division remained the designated unit for the Pennsylvania National Guard while under federal service throughout the twentieth century.

Modern warfare drastically reshaped roles on the battlefield for Philadelphia units with Revolutionary lineages. They created machine gun battalions, and the famed First Troop of the Philadelphia City Cavalry dismounted and joined the 103rd Trench Mortar Battery. The 28th Division, known as the “Keystone” division, arrived on the Western Front in France on May 31, 1918, and was quickly thrust into the Battle of Château-Thierry. After the Pennsylvanians repelled a German attack while suffering heavy losses, General John Pershing (1860-1948) referred to them as his “iron division.” Unlike the Spanish-American War, the Guard was not held in reserve and saw combat in the Meuse-Argonne, Champagne, and Marne campaigns. After 102 days on the front line and fourteen-thousand casualties, the 28th Division was relieved.

New Jersey National Guard regiments, along with elements from the Delaware National Guard, were assigned to the 29th Infantry Division. The 1st New Jersey Infantry and the 5th Delaware Infantry comprised the 114th Infantry Regiment and participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in September 1918. Despite their relatively short time at the front, intense combat inflicted heavy casualties. By the time the 29th Division was pulled of the line. 5,570 men, more than 30 percent of the division, had been killed or wounded.

In keeping with the complex and expansive evolution of the United States military following the First World War, the National Guard continued to modernize and reorganize. Infantry regiments of the Pennsylvania National Guard were reassigned to engineering battalions and coastal artillery batteries, and New Jersey transferred several regiments into military police and reconnaissance. In 1933, the Pennsylvania National Guard Headquarters transferred from Philadelphia, its home since 1776, to the state capital in Harrisburg.

World War II

During the Second World War, National Guard units from the Delaware Valley returned to the fields of France. In Philadelphia, the 28th Infantry Division reformed for deployment to the European Theater, and several Philadelphia-based regiments returned to the Keystone Division, including the 108th Field Artillery Battalion. The 104th  Cavalry Regiment, pulling troops from the First Troop of the Philadelphia City Cavalry, initially served stateside to provide security for the critical industrial areas around the Delaware. Similarly, the 111th Infantry Regiment of “Ben Franklin Associators” detached from the 28th Infantry Division to guard port facilities along the Eastern Seaboard.

Once deployed, the 28th Infantry Division fought in some of the most ferocious battles in France, including the breakout of Allied forces from Normandy. During the liberation of Paris in 1944, elements of the division famously paraded down the Champs Élysées. This revelry preceded the most vicious combat the Pennsylvania National Guard experienced, in the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, where the 28th Division earned the nickname “the bloody bucket” in reference to its keystone-shaped insignia and heavy losses. After participating in the Battle of the Bulge and the Rhineland campaign, the division was pulled off the line after forty-one months in combat. Following the surrender of German forces, the division was deactivated from federal service in Harrisburg on November 20, 1945.  

New Jersey National Guard regiments were assigned to the 44th Infantry Division during the Second World War. Originally conceived in 1920, the 44th Infantry Division was designed to receive New Jersey, Delaware, and New York National Guard regiments, but Delaware guardsman were never incorporated. The New Jersey 57th Infantry Brigade, consisting of the 114th and 113th Infantry Regiments, joined the 112th Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Dix and initially deployed to the Delaware River after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In September 1944, the 44th Infantry Division deployed to Europe, serving 190 days in combat and participating in campaigns in Central and Northern France, the Ardennes, and the Rhineland. The 44th suffered 6,111 battlefield casualties, earned three Distinguished Unit Citations, and accepted the surrender of famed rocket scientist Werner Von Braun.

Persian Gulf Conflicts

[caption id="attachment_25164" align="alignright" width="300"]Color photograph of F-16 fighter plane taking off from Atlantic City International Airport. The 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, with origins in World War I, was flying the F-16C Falcon in the twenty-first century. (Department of Defense)[/caption]

With the exception of single regiments and battalions, the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware National Guard were not federalized during the Korean or Vietnam Wars. During the Persian Gulf War, Philadelphians from the 121st Transportation Company deployed to the Middle East, but the majority of Philadelphia regiments remained inactive on a federal level. The September 11, 2001, attacks and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 brought the Keystone division back into combat as regiments and combat brigades deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Two of the oldest Philadelphian units, Ben Franklin’s “Associators” of the 111th Infantry Regiment and the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry of the 104th Cavalry Regiment deployed to Kuwait and Iraq as part of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The 50th Combat Brigade of the New Jersey National Guard, under the 42nd Infantry Division, was deployed as part of the occupation of Iraq in 2008. From 2006 to 2013, the Delaware Army National Guard deployed several units in support of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the 261st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade and the 72nd Troop Command Brigade. In conjunction with the National Guard State Partnership Program, units from the Delaware Valley have been sent to countries including Lithuania, Albania, Trinidad and Tobago, Jordan, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates to participate in joint training exercises and general ambassadorship

[caption id="attachment_25166" align="alignright" width="300"]Color photograph of a National Guardsmen returning to an army truck on a flooded street in Hoboken, New Jersey. One of the National Guard’s primary missions is disaster relief. The extensive damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 led to the activation of the New Jersey Guard alongside the National Guard units of other states along the Eastern Seaboard. (Department of Defense)[/caption]

National Guard Units from the tristate area deployed stateside after major snowstorms, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ivan, and Superstorm Sandy. The 114th Regiment of the New Jersey National Guard and the 112th Regiment of the Pennsylvania provided security for personnel of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in New Orleans in 2005. In February 2010, Delaware National Guard soldiers participated in “Operation Arctic Vengeance” and aided emergency management, fire, and police agencies during a blizzard. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey National Guard units aided in the rescue, evacuation, and resupply of devastated areas across the region.

In 2016, Pennsylvania, the third largest National Guard in the United States, had over seventeen thousand men and women in uniform. The New Jersey National Guard boasted troop strength of 6,025 soldiers, and Delaware’s National Guard troop strength was just under three thousand. The National Guard of the Delaware Valley remained a vital organization in both foreign service and local disaster relief and recovery.

William V. Bartleson is an independent scholar of military history who has worked with the New Jersey National Guard Militia Museum and the Center for Veterans Oral history. He is a member of Phi Alpha Theta.

Robert Gamble

Robert Gamble is a lecturer of history at the University of Kansas. He researches the history of regulation, capitalism, and urban space and has published articles on the antebellum secondhand trade and colonial peddlers in the Mid-Atlantic.

Contractor Bosses (1880s to 1930s)

As Philadelphia expanded physically after its 1854 consolidation of city and county, building contractors wielded a greater degree of political power as they paid politicians and civil servants handsomely for the rights to construct the city’s infrastructure. The late nineteenth century saw the emergence of the “contractor boss”—a construction magnate who wielded political power directly rather than through intermediaries. Reformers bemoaned the rise of a “contractor combine,” which dominated Philadelphia politics from the 1880s to the 1930s and enriched itself on overpriced deals that cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually. 

[caption id="attachment_25002" align="alignright" width="300"]A black and white photograph of Philadelphia City Hall, taken just after its completion in the early twentieth century. The construction of Philadelphia's City Hall is an example of the sway contractor bosses held over Philadelphia politics in the late nineteenth century. (Library of Congress)[/caption]

Like many American cities, Philadelphia experienced astonishing growth after the Civil War in terms of population, geographic expanse, and wealth. As the city grew into an industrial powerhouse, every year larger portions of the municipal budget were pledged to infrastructure for the fast-growing metropolis: street paving, gas and water mains, sewers, docks, schools, hospitals, public transportation, and large-scale civic projects. Philadelphia’s expansive spirit was symbolized by the new Public Buildings, or City Hall, at Broad and Market Streets. When its cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1874, Philadelphia City Hall was projected to become the tallest building and most luxurious municipal structure in the world.

This period also saw the emergence in Philadelphia of an omnipotent Republican machine known as the Organization, which controlled nearly every elected and appointed political office. Philadelphia became a one-party city: between 1891 and 1915, the Democratic vote withered from 39 percent to less than 4 percent. The Organization devoted itself to maintaining its power base and enriching its leaders, often at the expense of Philadelphia taxpayers. More than 90 percent of city employees were forced to make illegal “voluntary contributions” to the Organization, adding more than $3 million to its coffers between 1903 and 1913. In 1904, journalist Lincoln Steffens (1866-1936) pronounced Philadelphia “the worst-governed city in the country.” While “all our municipal governments are more or less bad,” Steffens conceded, “Philadelphia is simply the most corrupt and the most contented.”

Widespread Graft

Philadelphia’s new seat of government became a symbol of its entrenched corruption and the influence wielded by well-connected contractors. Thanks in part to widespread graft, construction on City Hall dragged on for three decades, while its cost spiraled from $10 million to more than $24 million. When the by then outmoded Second Empire structure was declared complete in 1901, it was dismissed by essayist Agnes Repplier (1855-1950) as “that perfect miracle of ugliness and inconvenience, that really remarkable combination of bulk and insignificance.” 

Soon after its inception, the Republican Organization found powerful allies among builders willing to pay for the privilege of participating in big-budget projects like City Hall. In the 1870s, political boss David Martin (1845-1920) began to recruit Irish Catholic contractors into the Republican Party, until then a bastion of Protestantism. Israel W. Durham (1854-1909), one of Martin’s rivals, formed an alliance with John Mack (1852-1915), head of numerous paving companies and later president of the Keystone Telephone Company. Thanks to Durham, Mack’s businesses acquired municipal contracts worth $33 million. 

Martin and Charles A. Porter (1839-1907) became two of the first men to straddle the worlds of private enterprise and municipal service as true contractor bosses. During the 1880s and 1890s, while Martin served in various state offices and Porter was a state senator, they joined forces with John Mack to form the “Hog Combine,” so called because “they hogged everything in sight and more.” Martin and Porter’s Vulcanite Paving Company received 888 contracts valued at over $6 million, while other companies controlled by Porter were awarded contracts worth more than $2 million. Among the projects handled by the Hog Combine were the paving of Broad Street and the construction of the East Park and Queen Lane Reservoirs. 

[caption id="attachment_25222" align="alignright" width="300"]cartoon from about 1906 showing caricatures of the contractor bosses. This political cartoon from about 1916 depicts the city's ruling bloc of politicians and contractor bosses. (Collection of Thomas H. Keels)[/caption]

By the early twentieth century, two political blocs run by competing “contractor kings” battled to control the Republican Organization. State Senator James P. “Sunny Jim” McNichol (1864-1917), whom historian Dennis Clark (1927-93) called “the first Irish Catholic to become a top Republican potentate in the Philadelphia firmament,” ran the northern half of the city.  McNichol’s interests included the Filbert Paving and Construction Company, which earned $3 million in city contracts between 1903 and 1911, and the Penn Reduction Company, a garbage-collection business with annual contracts in excess of $500,000. His Keystone State Construction Company handled contracts for the Market Street Subway, the Torresdale water filtration plant, and the Northeast Boulevard, Philadelphia’s first major parkway. Later renamed the Roosevelt Boulevard after Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the parkway’s original straight route was remapped to zigzag through land parcels acquired by Organization members, who sold them to the city at exorbitant markups. After McNichol was awarded a $1.4 million contract to build the boulevard, reform politician Rudolph Blankenburg (1843-1918) dubbed the enterprise the “McNichol Boodle-vard.”

A Trio of Vare Brothers

South of Market Street, the three Vare brothers ruled: George (1859-1908), Edwin (1862-1922), and William (1867-1934).  Born to a poor family in the marshy wasteland known as the “Neck,” the “Dukes of South Philadelphia” developed a lucrative trash collection business, later expanding into street cleaning and contracting. Protégés of First Ward leader Amos Slack (1840-1899), the Vares used their political contacts to collect over $18 million from fifty-eight city contracts between 1888 and 1911. 

The Vares invested their profits in building an unstoppable political machine in South Philadelphia, using their clout to win more contracts and earn more money. Their sway increased significantly when voters elected George to the State Legislature in 189o and to the State Senate five years later. When George died suddenly in 1908, Ed assumed his Senate seat. Bill rose from the Philadelphia Select Council to become U.S. congressman for Philadelphia’s First District, which encompassed his home district of South Philadelphia. In the years before World War I, Vare-controlled men headed most of the important City Council committees, including Finance, Highways, and Street Cleaning. 

[caption id="attachment_25001" align="alignright" width="236"]A black and white photographic portrait of Boies Penrose. Boies Penrose represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate for over a quarter of a century. During his tenure, he was caught up in the battle between the two big contractor factions of the city, State Senator James P. McNichol and the Vare brothers. (Library of Congress)[/caption]

In theory, the McNichol and Vare blocs agreed to divide the city at Market Street to ensure peace within the “contractor combine.” In practice, the two camps waged a bloody struggle for control of the Republican City Committee, composed of the party leaders of the city’s forty-eight political wards.  The upper hand in the ongoing battle was held by Boies Penrose (1860-1921), who represented Pennsylvania’s corporate interests in the U.S. Senate for twenty-five years. While Penrose usually favored McNichol, he borrowed significant sums from the Vares, paying them back by arranging private contracts with major corporations. 

The deaths of McNichol, Penrose, and Edwin Vare between 1917 and 1922 left William S. Vare as the undisputed boss of Philadelphia. During the 1920s, he commanded more political power than any other single Philadelphian before or since. A Senate investigation in 1926 concluded that thanks to Vare’s army of election “watchers,” the average Philadelphia voter had a one-in-eight chance of having his ballot recorded accurately on Election Day. One commentator compared Vare to the Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), with the distinction that the citizens of Rome enjoyed clean water, clean streets, and efficient transportation, unlike the citizens of Philadelphia. 

Lavish Public Works Program

When Vare’s protégé, Receiver of Taxes W. Freeland Kendrick (1874-1953), took office as mayor in 1924, he launched a lavish program of public works, reversing the austerity measures of his predecessor J. Hampton Moore (1864-1950). Ground was broken for the Broad Street Subway, expanding the city’s mass transit system beyond the Market-Frankford line. Work stepped up on the Delaware River Bridge, the Free Library, and the Museum of Art, projects that had languished under Moore. The city allocated funds to rebuild Philadelphia General Hospital, to construct a new hospital complex at Byberry, and to erect a City Hall Annex. Millions of dollars were devoted to a Sesquicentennial International Exposition to mark the country’s 150th anniversary in 1926, a dismal failure that attracted half the visitors of the 1876 Centennial. 

[caption id="attachment_25003" align="alignright" width="157"]A black and white photograph of William S. Vare near the front door of a building. After the deaths of James P. McNichols, Boies Penrose, and Edwin Vare, William S. Vare became the most powerful figure in Philadelphia politics between 1922 and 1929. This photograph is from 1923. (Library of Congress)[/caption]

William Vare benefited directly and indirectly from much of this largesse. The Vare Construction Company received eleven major contracts totaling more than $1.4 million during the Kendrick administration, including work on the Broad Street Subway, the Museum of Art, and the Municipal Stadium. Vare used his influence to have the Sesquicentennial Exposition relocated from Center City to South Philadelphia, effectively bankrupting the fair but ensuring that his constituents would receive millions of dollars’ worth of jobs and infrastructural improvements. 

In 1926, William S. Vare ran as the Republican candidate for the United States Senate from Pennsylvania, winning by a significant margin. Alarmed by Vare’s reputation as a corrupt urban boss and his plans to modify Prohibition by permitting the sale of beer and wine, the U.S. Senate refused to seat him until it had investigated the conduct and financing of his campaign. Under the stress of the Senate inquiry, in August 1928 Vare suffered a massive stroke that left him partially paralyzed. After deliberating for more than three years, the Senate voted in December 1929 to deny Vare his seat. Although Vare remained the nominal head of the Republican Organization in Philadelphia until shortly before his death in 1934, his political dominance effectively ended with the Senate rejection.  

The Great Depression, with its devastating impact on jobs, municipal expenditures, and construction, marked the end of the golden age of the contractor boss. As the Depression abated, a new generation of influential contractors emerged in Philadelphia, but none dominated the political landscape as had McNichol or the Vares. Many of the later contractor bosses were Democratic and Irish Catholic, reflecting the city’s changing demographics: John B. Kelly Sr. (1889–1960), Matthew H. McCloskey (1893–1973), and John McShain (1896–1989).

While the era of the contractor kings had passed, Philadelphia remained in many ways their creation. The expansionist legacy of the contractor bosses remained manifest in such physical landmarks as City Hall, Roosevelt Boulevard, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Market-Frankford Subway-Elevated Line, and Benjamin Franklin Bridge. This durable infrastructure served as a testament to a body of men who bent the political will of a major American city to accommodate their own personal and professional interests.

Thomas H. Keels is a local historian and the author or coauthor of six books on Philadelphia, including Forgotten Philadelphia: Lost Architecture of the Quaker City (Temple University Press, 2007).  His latest work, Sesqui! Greed, Graft, and the Forgotten World’s Fair of 1926, a study of the ill-fated Sesquicentennial International Exposition, will be published by Temple in early 2017.

Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges

[caption id="attachment_24042" align="alignright" width="274"]Color portrait of William Penn painted by Francis Place. English Quaker William Penn founded Pennsylvania in 1681, when King Charles II granted him a charter for over forty-five thousand square miles of land. With this charter, Penn's constitutional authority in Pennsylvania was second only to the King of England. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)[/caption]

The Charter of Privileges, effective October 28, 1701, and sometimes known as the Charter of Liberties, functioned as Pennsylvania’s constitution until the American Revolution. It replaced several attempts since the colony’s 1681 establishment to create a viable frame of government. Among the more permissive of colonial constitutions in British North America, the document guaranteed religious freedom, strengthened the separation of church and state, granted popularly-elected officials the ability to enact laws, and balanced power between the offices of the governor, legislature, and judiciary. The text of the Charter became regarded as a shining example of the ideals of freedom of worship, human equality, individual rights, and self-government put into practice espoused by Pennsylvania founder William Penn (1644–1718).  

In August 1701, during his second visit to Pennsylvania (1699–1701), Penn learned that factions in the British government had introduced legislation to strip him of his colony and place it directly under the monarchy’s control. Fearing the worst, he prepared to depart for England. Before sailing in early November, and with the approbation of the Provincial Assembly, Penn enacted several official measures already under discussion, the most significant of these being a new constitution. Others included a revised Charter for the City of Philadelphia, broadening the power of municipal government; a proposed Charter of Property outlining the rights of landowners (never instituted); and legislation regulating the judiciary. Penn worked on these during his last days in Pennsylvania at his country estate, Pennsbury Manor in Bucks County, and later from his Philadelphia home, the Slate Roof House (at Second Street, just north of Walnut, later the site of Welcome Park). He presented them to the Provincial Assembly where it met, likely at the Friends Public School on Fourth Street, south of Chestnut.

[caption id="attachment_24366" align="alignright" width="210"]A black and white engraving of John Locke. John Locke is considered one of the most important political philosophers in Western thought. Works such as An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and his Two Treatises of Government were political essays that influenced thought during the English Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 and thereafter. (Library of Congress)[/caption]

Penn’s theoretical influences in writing the Charter of Privileges and the contemporary notion of individual freedoms can be traced to his Enlightenment era background, Quaker religious principles, and events following England’s 1688 Glorious Revolution. Enlightenment (or Age of Reason, roughly 1650–1780) thinking espoused in part that all humans were equal at birth (a tabula rasa or clean slate), were free to think and reason individually, and were not intrinsically subject to inherited and arbitrary monarchial and class authority. Penn no doubt was familiar with the work of key Enlightenment philosopher John Locke (1632-74), including An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689). Early in life, Penn also heard the teachings of Thomas Loe, a traveling preacher and member of the Religious Society of the Friends of Jesus (or Quakers), who advocated rejection of institutional religion and a more personal relationship with God. Penn converted to Quakerism in the 1660s and through his writings on religion and philosophy rose to become a seminal spokesperson for the Friends. Penn also witnessed the removal of the Catholic King James II (1633-1701) in 1688, and the enactment by Parliament in December 1689 of the English Bill of Rights, which included limiting the power of the monarchy, granting more authority to members of Parliament, and an affirmation of the Enlightenment principle that all people enjoy the same basic rights. These events and ideas were no doubt fresh in his mind as he penned a new constitution for Pennsylvania.    

The Charter of Privileges               

Members of the Pennsylvania Assembly called the new constitution a Charter of Privileges, for it permitted them certain privileges, liberties, or powers, never before surrendered by Penn. Chief among these was the power to enact legislation, an ability many colonial legislatures lacked: legislation could only originate with the governor and Provincial Council, not popularly elected representatives. Many thought the concept radical, fearing it would engender mob rule. Penn’s earlier frames of government did not grant it, including his First Frame of Government (December 1682), and the Second Frame (April 2, 1683–April 1693). In 1696, with Penn absent from Pennsylvania, the Assembly had attempted its own frame granting this power through acting Governor William Markham (1635–1704). Though in effect from November 7, 1696, to October 27, 1701, Markham’s Frame never gained Penn’s authorization for he feared the idea too liberal. However, with the possibility of a takeover of his proprietary colony by the Crown, Penn permitted the Assembly this ability out of concern for “a violent or arbitrary governor imposed on us” by the royal government, reasoning his colony could defend itself with this new power. The legislature could also choose its own leaders and officers, rather than have the choice made for them by the governor. The legislature accepted the Charter on October 28, 1701.  

[caption id="attachment_24367" align="alignright" width="170"]Image of a reprinting of the Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges. The Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges, granted by William Penn in 1701, gave many powers to the colonial government of Pennsylvania. These powers included the ability to enact its own laws and appoint its own legislative leaders. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)[/caption]

The Charter of Privileges begins by reiterating a significant clause from earlier frames and the heart of Penn’s “Holy Experiment”—namely, guarantees of freedom of worship, stating that no one “shall be in any case molested or prejudiced … because of his or theire Conscientious perswasion or practice.” Additionally, any male Christian could hold civil office, eliminating the requirement of land ownership. The use of taxes to support religious institutions was banned, further separating church and state. Another provision elevated much of the Assembly’s power to that of the governor and judiciary, creating a tripartite government. The governor’s role was reduced to management status, but still retained veto power. The Charter also created a unicameral legislature, relegating the Provincial Council as an advisory body to the governor. The only American colonial legislature to do so, Pennsylvania remained unicameral with its 1776 Constitution, until the state Constitution of 1790 created a bicameral assembly. Lastly, the Charter authorized the three “Lower Counties on the Delaware” of Kent, Sussex, and New Castle the option to establish their own assembly if they chose. These counties, already established with their own governments long before Penn arrived, were formally granted to him by James, the Duke of York, on August 25, 1681. They separated in 1704, creating the colony of Delaware.

The Charter of Privileges gained respect and admiration in the ensuing decades as a great advancement for representative government. The Liberty Bell, that iconic symbol of American freedom, ordered to be cast by the provincial government in 1751, likely commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of this document. The United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, state constitutions, and those of countries around the world adopted principles set forth in this Charter as basic tenets of democratic government: religious freedom, separation of church and state, tripartite government, and laws created and enacted by popularly-elected officials.

 Linda A. Ries is a retired archivist from the Pennsylvania State Archives, part of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, where she worked for thirty-five years. She is editor of Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, the scholarly journal of the Pennsylvania Historical Association.

Share This Page: