The Fairmount Water Works: “One of the Very Prettiest Spots the Eye Can Look Upon”

Error and the human condition, being bound tightly together, generally keep a sullen kind of company. Yet as unpromising as that pair might seem, their offspring sometimes attain startling beauty. Certainly the grace and charm of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Water Works, on the east bank of the Schuylkill River, derive both from the human condition and the fitful attempts to improve it....
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Bookshelf

Thomas Eakins edited by John Wilmerding Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994 (212 pages, cloth, $49.95) “Frank,” “brutal,” “raw,” “uncompro¬≠mising,” “diabolically realistic,” and “manly” were terms once used to describe the work of Philadelphian Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), one of the greatest American painters of the...
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Currents

Let’s Motor! Although Detroit has earned the title of “Motor City,” Pittsburgh was home to twenty automobile makers at the turn of the century, manufacturing such notable vehicles as the Penn 30 Touring Car, the Standard Model E Touring Car, the Keystone Six-Sixty, the Brush Model D Runabout, and the Artzberger Steam Surrey. Several of these automobiles attracted widespread...
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Bookshelf

Historic Houses of Philadelphia by Roger W. Moss University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998 (256 pages, cloth,$34.95) Sumptuous, a word frequently used by restaurant reviewers and critics of haute cuisine, aptly describes Historic Houses of Philadelphia, the latest fare by Roger W. Moss, known widely for his books on Victorian era architecture and ornamentation. Fifty historic houses, mansions, and...
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Executive Director’s Message

Remembering the twentieth century has become a preoccupation bordering on obsession. As the lists of greatest moments and most important people grows daily, I am equally intrigued not only by what we choose to recall but the way in which we decide to commemorate the past. Over the past one hundred years Pennsylvanians have remembered their history by constructing a stunning array of statues,...
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Growing Bigger and Better Year by Year

At noon on Saturday, November 24, 1827, fifty-three prominent Philadelphians gathered at the old Franklin Institute, then located on Seventh Street, in response to a newspaper advertisement calling for the formation of an organization devoted to the “highly instructive and interesting science” of horticulture. Since that inaugural meeting – nearly one hundred and seventy-five...
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On the Cutting Edge

When the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society was founded on December 21, 1849 – and for the following seventy years – nearly all figure skating around Philadelphia took place outdoors, most often on the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. An ice skating fad swept America and Europe in the mid-nineteenth century, and hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life –...
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Mount Pleasant at Fairmount Park

Each year the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission names an outstanding example of Pennsylvania’s history as a Commonwealth Treasure. For 2001 the Commission has designated Fairmount Park. The forty-four hundred acre park is being recognized for its wealth of manmade and natural sites, which create a rich legacy of architecture, history, culture, and ecology. Founded in 1855, with...
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Executive Director’s Message

Remember your very first visit to an amusement park and the sight of a merry-go-round? The touch, the reflections, and the magic of the animals, the gyrating, oscillating motion, the sound and rhythm of the calliope, even the smell of wood and paint, left an indelible impression. It’s little wonder that this never-ending race among a menagerie of fanciful beasts captured the excitement and...
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Lost and Found

Lost In 1954, the year before it was demolished, Horticultural Hall was described by the Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine as the “most spectacular garden under glass in America.” The 1.5-acre hothouse, designed by Hermann J. Schwarzmann, was erected in Philadelphia’s Fair¬≠mount Park for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition and served as the centerpiece of gardens totaling thirty-five...
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