The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia is a project of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities, in cooperation with our numerous civic partners, associate editors, and advisers. The new mailing address for the project is: The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities, Department of History, Rutgers University, Camden, NJ 08102.
We are pleased to present new content and a new look for The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia web site. Thanks to Brian Jacobs at Avencia Inc., our site is more attractive, easier to navigate, and offers more ways to become involved with the project. The site also demonstrates our commitment to highlight the resources of the region by presenting and linking organizations, historic sites, and collections. Our banner images come from the collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; the color thumbnail photographs appear by courtesy of ushistory.org; and our home page features historical photographs from the Philadelphia City Archives.
Along with the new look, we introduce the first essays produced for the Encyclopedia. Each includes links to historic sites and collections, and each offers the opportunity to add stories and offer suggestions or corrections. Watch for new topics as we begin to build The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia!
At the home base of The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at Rutgers-Camden, students and recent alumni play important roles in producing each new topic. In the process they gain a deeper understanding of regional history and build skills in digital publishing. Read more about these activities and other public humanities news on the MARCH website.
Al Lee, one of the discussion facilitators at the Greater Philadelphia Roundtable program on “Philadelphia, the Place that Loves You Back,” provided us with this report:
If you were showing someone around Philadelphia, where would you take them? Art museums? Restaurants? Historic sites? I posed that question for group discussion during the Greater Philadelphia Roundtable Series “Philadelphia, The Place that Loves you Back.”
Everyone knows that Philadelphia is home to the iconic symbol, the Liberty Bell. But is that all we’re known for? Or is it cheesesteaks and a fictional boxer who served as the ultimate underdog? Maybe it’s none of the above and we’re really packing them in due to our unique shops and independent boutiques. Are they on your “ to do list ?”
Here is what a sample of local Philadelphians said:
“I would definitely recommend talking them to Independence Hall and Society Hill.”
“I don’t think people know how big Philadelphia really is. I would take them to the outskirts such as Chestnut Hill, Germantown and especially Longwood Gardens.
“I would take them where I would like to hang out on weekends. The Reading Terminal Market. Rittenhouse Square. Farmers Markets. First Fridays. I love the Architectural Walking tours offered by the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. College Campuses and whatever events are coming up on the calendar.”
“No question, I would be sure they saw all the art galleries and ethnic neighborhoods including sections of Chinatown, South Philly, and West Philly. We would go on a cultural eating tour and enjoy all the outdoor art in the process.”
From this small survey, many did not even mention seeing the Liberty Bell or having a cheesesteak. Maybe we should change the slogan to “Philadelphia, America’s best kept secret.”
Thanks to Al and all of our volunteer discussion facilitators! Don’t miss the next Greater Philadelphia Roundtable – the last in our current series – coming up on March 28. For information and advance registration, visit https://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/events.
Albert Lee, one of the discussion facilitators at our recent “City of Neighborhoods, City of Homes” roundtable program, provides this account of his group’s conversation:
Make no mistake. Philadelphians are passionate. Whether it’s sports, food, or where they live, you know what they’re thinking at all times. Call it a blessing or a curse, but it’s nothing if not honest.
For the last program in the Greater Philadelphia Roundtable Series, the topic was Philadelphia: City of Neighborhoods, City of Homes.
Here is a sample of where people call home and why:
“I lived in Mayfair until I was 21. I have since moved to University City near the University of Pennsylvania. I loved NE Philly. I loved the family atmosphere and being able to converse with neighbors on our stoops. Here at U City, there are lots of students. It feels like an extension of Center City. You can get access to all kinds of cuisine. There is so much diversity and everything is at your fingertips. In Northeast Philly, everything was a little homogeneous with many moving to the suburbs. “
“I moved from the Northeast to Wissahickon and just absolutely love all the green and easy access to public transit.”
“I’ve lived in Rittenhouse for 25-30 years. I’m not a native, but my family is from here. It’s close to everything. I work in Center City. I don’t have or need a car. I just walk everywhere. I love it.”
“We’re from Minnesota and used to live in an all-white area. We have lived here for four years in Brewerytown. We wanted an adventure and we got it. Culturally, it’s an edgy place since it’s going through some big changes. We see our building as a tight-knit community because everyone is from someplace else. We have that as a bond. We’ve tried to communicate with the home-grown folks as well, a.k.a. the locals. In fact, we’ve signed another lease for three more years.”
“I grew up in Torresdale. I used to take the 66 Bus and the El everywhere. When I lived there, it wasn’t too diverse. It’s still a bit homogeneous but I’ve seen some positive change and it’s only going to get better.
“I was born in New York and lived in North Jersey. I chose to live in Philly and called Rittenhouse home since the 80s. Rittenhouse Square is such a hodgepodge. From the blue-haired ladies to the young mothers, to the artists, people talking to themselves and just the whatever – It’s all races, all economic backgrounds, it’s my favorite spot in the city.
“I don’t live in Philly but plan on moving back. My family moved here in 1955 and lived in Society Hill. In 1960, they moved to the Northeast. Everything was beginning to develop. Folks didn’t have a car until 1962. I remember taking the bus to Drexel. It’s a great city.
Thanks to Al and to all of our volunteers for making the Greater Philadelphia Roundtable series such a great success.
On March 17, 2009, the Barra Foundation approved the application of University of Pennsylvania Press for a Planning Grant for the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia project. This grant will allow us to launch the project with a Civic Partnership and Planning Workshop at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania on April 16-17, 2009. The workshop will create a collaborative foundation for the Encyclopedia and seek to identify points of cooperation with other projects and civic organizations. The workshop also will identify information needs and seek advice from the participants about the future form and content of the Encyclopedia. This workshop adds to the Barra Foundation’s arts and culture initiatives, such as the documentary television series with the working title America’s First Great City: Philadelphia (History Making Productions), which will be represented at the event. Additional support for the workshop comes from Southwest Airlines and the Union League of Philadelphia. For further details, see the “Civic Partnership and Planning Workshop” link on this page.
We are pleased to announce an addition to the March 18 Greater Philadelphia Roundtable, “Striving for Equality: LGBT Activism in Greater Philadelphia.” Professor William L. Hewitt, the recipient of the 2009 Bayard Rustin Compassion and Courage Award, will speak on the topic of Bayard Rustin’s activism and legacy. This evening also features a panel discussion with Stephen Glassman, chairperson, Pennsylvaina Human Relations Commission; Michael P. Williams, City of Philadelphia Law Department; and Stacey Sobel, Western State University, former executive director of Equality Advocates Pennsylvania. Kathy Padilla will facilitate. (Kevin Mumford from the University of Iowa is unable to participate.) For details and registration, visit our Events page.
We’re so pleased by the brisk registration for the Greater Philadelphia Roundtable events in April. Unfortunately, we have already reached the capacity of our room for the roundtable on April 22, “Imagining Philadelphia’s Future,” at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Please add your name to the wait list by visiting our “Events” page, and we’ll let you know if we can accommodate more people. Also, consider joining us for our other roundtables this spring. An added attraction for the roundtable on April 1 is a book-signing for Women of Industry and Reform: Shaping the History of Pennsylvania, 1865-1940, by Marion Roydhouse, published by the Pennsylvania Historical Association.
This month we passed a new milestone in the creation of The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia: our 300th topic published online. Published on March 8, topic number 300, “Board of Health (Philadelphia),” by James Higgins, added to our growing category of topics about health and medicine. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the many contributors, civic partners, and staff members at Rutgers-Camden who are devoting their talents and good will to the service of this resource for the Philadelphia region. Our current phase of expansion is made possible by generous funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia, and Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust.
This week The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia reached and surpassed 400 topics online with the publication of the essay Community Development, by Howard Gillette Jr. and Domenic Vitiello, two of our editors. The continuing growth of this regional resource is made possible by the talents and good will of hundreds of writers, our civic partners, and the staff of editors, fact-checkers, and digital publishers working at our home base at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at Rutgers-Camden. The current phase of expansion is funded by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia, and Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust.