In this collection of photos from 2005, the Monkey explores one of the most important U.S. cities—former revolutionary breeding ground and one-time capital, Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was and remains one of the most important cities in the United States. In 1681, the Quaker Englishman William Penn acquired the rights to a large swathe of territory from England’s King Charles II and formed the liberal, religiously tolerant Pennsylvania Colony. Philadelphia was founded the very next year. Originally a Native American settlement, Philadelphia’s site at the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers allowed it to develop as a port despite being some 150 kilometers inland from the Atlantic. By the early 18th Century, Philadelphia was the largest and richest city of England’s North American colonies, and by the 1770s it was the second-largest English-speaking city in the world (after London). As a center of colonial political and economic activity like Boston and New York, Philadelphia also took an active role in the colonies’ revolutionary ambitions.
Here the Monkey stops by one of the principal sites in U.S. history: Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Dating from 1732, when it served as the Pennsylvania Colony’s statehouse, Independence Hall hosted the meeting where representatives and notables from the Thirteen Colonies drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was here, too, that the newly independent United States’ Constitution was drafted during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Philadelphia took over from New York as capital of the United States in 1791 until a compromise could be reached as to the location of the new national capital (purpose-built Washington, D.C., which became the third capital of the United States in 1800). Today, the Hall is part of a national park focused on the historical importance of early Philadelphia.
The Monkey poses with some of the contrasting architecture in downtown Philadelphia (or Philly, its endearing nickname). At left, a sliver of the French Renaissance Revival-styled City Hall plays counterpoint to a number of high-rises including Philly’s tallest, the postmodern 270 meter One Liberty Place (1987) by Murphy/Jahn.
Philadelphia’s City Hall has pride of place in the urban center, occupying an island amongst some of the city’s main thoroughfares. Construction on the mammoth building (the largest and most expensive civic building in the United States) began in 1871 and was completed in 1901. Its 155 meter clock tower is topped by an 11 meter statue of William Penn, the founder of the Pennsylvania Colony. The Monkey’s brief visit to Philadelphia did not afford him the opportunity to ascend to the observation deck just below Penn’s feet, but he would like to do that the next time he’s down Philadelphia way.
The Monkey checks out the Georgian architecture in the Independence Hall National Park district. Philadelphia is said to retain more 18th Century architecture than any city in the United States. Many of the buildings are like the red brick residences across the street here, showcasing the Georgian style’s emphasis on classical symmetry and simple lines.
In an interesting case of revolutionary fervor, the people of the United States renamed the Georgian style Federalist in order to remove any reference to the former king (George III). By the time of Queen Victoria, however, the fervor had worn off and the term Victorian was readily applied to arts and architecture throughout the former colonies.
The Monkey ponders some Georgian (Federalist) details in Philly’s Society Hill neighborhood.
Who’d have thought a subway entrance cover could be so tripped out? Certainly not the Monkey, who was surprised by the geometric decorative aspects of Philadelphia’s metro portals.
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