Reforming Faith by Design: Frank Furness’ Architecture and Spiritual Pluralism Among Philadelphia’s Jews and Unitarians

Philadelphia never saw anything like it. The strange structure took shape between 1868 and 1871 on the southeast corner of North Broad and Mount Vernon streets, in the middle of a developing residential neighborhood for a newly rising upper middle class. With it came a rather alien addition to the city’s skyline: a boldly striped onion dome capping an octagonal Moorish-style minaret that flared...
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ENIAC, the First All-Purpose Digital Computer

Seventy-five years ago, in February 1946, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer — ENIAC — was publicly demonstrated as the world’s first large-scale general-purpose digital computer. It was designed by John Mauchly (1907–80) and J. Presper Eckert (1919–95) at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering in Philadelphia. Research began during World War II in...
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Editor’s Letter

The features in this edition focus on Pennsylvanians who strived for a more equitable, pluralistic America. The articles cover a period from the mid-19th century into the early 20th, a time when movements for civil rights were emerging and new barriers were being broken in several social and cultural realms. The story of Octavius V. Catto reflects a key moment in the history of the struggle for...
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John William Heisman, Football Innovator

John William Heisman (1869–1936) was an athlete turned college sports coach who became one of football’s greatest innovators. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Heisman grew up near Titusville, Crawford County, in northwestern Pennsylvania. He played football at Titusville High School and then at Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania. He received a law degree but, diverted by an eye injury,...
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Pleistocene Preserved: The Lost Bone Cave of Port Kennedy

On October 29, 1895, more than 90 members attended a meeting at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Following the routine business of the publication committee’s report and the announcement of one member’s death, Henry Chapman Mercer (1856–1930) rose to speak about the ongoing exploration of a geological feature known as Irwin’s Cave in Montgomery County. The Philadelphia Inquirer...
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Frank Furness by George E. Thomas

Frank Furness Architecture in the Age of the Great Machines by George E. Thomas University of Pennsylvania Press, 312 pp, cloth $59.95 The rehabilitation of Frank Furness, whose idiosyncratic Victorian buildings scandalized generations of Philadelphians, began in earnest with Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966). Venturi praised Furness for the exact same reason...
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1918’s Deadliest Killer: The Flu Pandemic Hits Pennsylvania

I had a little bird, Its name was Enza. I opened the window, And in-flu-enza. —Children’s rhyme, 1918 The year 1918 was arguably one of the darkest in modern times and the deadliest ever recorded in human history. Much of Europe was locked in a hideous, relentless military struggle that had dragged on for three years, killing millions of soldiers and bankrupting its governments. Famine stalked...
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Preserving Bartram’s Garden: Recent Restoration of the House, Garden and Riverfront

Sitting on 45 acres of pastoral landscape, the Colonial-era house at Bartram’s Garden has long been recognized as a Philadelphia architectural landmark and one of the first historic buildings preserved as a public park in Pennsylvania. John Bartram (1699-1777), the first American-born botanist, began construction shortly after he purchased the farm of 102 acres in the fall of 1728 in what...
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Thomas Say: Pennsylvania Entomologist

Thomas Say was a keen observer of living things. In a scientific era that cherished primacy in classification and description, Say was renowned for his work. He named approximately 1,500 North American insects and scores of other species. This accomplishment alone could justify scientist Benjamin Silliman’s assertion that Say “has done more to make known the zoology of this country,...
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Editor’s Letter

“We all have a memory culture that we carry around with us,” Don Yoder (1921–2015) stated when I interviewed him for Pennsylvania Heritage (see “Meet Don Yoder, Dean of Folklife Scholars,” Spring 2006). “We get it from our parents and grandparents, from our childhood, from our uncles and aunts, from our contacts with friends.” For 70 years Yoder, who passed...
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