PHILADELPHIA REFLECTIONS
Musings of a Philadelphia Physician who has served the community for six decades

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Subcultures
E pluribus unum refers to thirteen colonies peacefully becoming a single nation. But it applies to Philadelphia in a different sense. Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods.

The Park and Beyond: East Falls, Germantown, Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill
Fairmount Park is large enough to split the City from its suburbs, and is partly a playground, partly a museum. East Falls, Germantown and Chestnut Hill are almost a separate world on the far side of the park.

North of Market
The term once referred to the Quaker district along Arch Street, and then to a larger district that had its heyday after the Civil War, industrialized, declined, and is now our worst urban problem area.

Customs, Culture and Traditions
Abundant seafood made it easy to settle here. Agriculture takes longer.

Right Angle Club 2007
A report, to the year 2007 shareholders of the Right Angle Club of Philadelphia, by the outgoing president. www.philadelphia-reflections.com/topic/73.htm

Volunteerism
The characteristic American behavior called volunteerism got its start with Benjamin Franklin's Junto, and has been a source of comment by foreign visitors ever since. It's still a very active force.

Touring Philadelphia's Western Regions
Philadelpia County had two hundred farms in 1950, but is now thickly settled in all directions. Western regions along the Schuylkill are still spread out somewhat; with many historic estates.

The Main Line
Like all cities, Philadelphia is filling in and choking up with subdivisions and development, in all directions from the center. The last place to fill up is the Welsh Barony, a tip of which can be said to extend all the way in town to the Art Museum.

Please Touch

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Please Touch Museum

There had been rumors for some time that the Please Touch Museum was planning to move from 21st Street to larger quarters, but recently its Executive Director Laura Foster appeared at a luncheon at the Franklin Inn Club to announce definite plans. The Museum moved into Memorial Hall in West Fairmount Park in the fall of 2008.

{Memorial Hall Fairmount Park}
Memorial Hall Fairmount Park

There are over 400 children's museums in the world, and the first one was started in Brooklyn in 1899. Just why Philadelphia waited until the Bicentennial Celebration in 1976 to start one, is not clear. It's particularly unclear when you hear of its explosive success. Growing rapidly during an era when museums of all sorts are seeing declining attendance, the Please Touch Museum will be making its fourth move in thirty years, each time to larger quarters because they needed more room. Sooner or later, expansionism will get its commuppance of course, and Memorial Hall is one awfully large building to fill. And to heat, and to paint, and to air condition. The price is right, however. The City Administration, which approached the museum with a proposal, has offered an 80-year lease for a dollar. When you hear that they have occasionally had 1500 visitors in a single day, however, and annual attendances approaching 200,000, almost anything seems possible.

{Liberty Tourch}
Liberty Torch

There are certainly limits. Nothing frightens a 4-year-old like a herd of 10-year-old boys racketting about, so there are segregations necessary. In other situations, these little kids not only can't touch, they can't see and they want to see badly. And the sociology is interesting. The kids may well clamor to come when they hear other kids talking, but in general it is the parents who get the idea that a museum trip would be fun. And the parents seem motivated by theories of upward mobility, of giving their child a "leg up" on the competition. The museum is certainly filling a need, but you have to wonder where our society is headed, if a picnic in the park is mainly a good idea if it gives junior a leg up.

Meanwhile, keep tuned. To fill up that monstrous Memorial Hall will take publicity, and these gals sound as though they mean to have a lot of it.

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