Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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A discussion about downtown area in Philadelphia and connections from today with its historical past.

Philadelphia Legal Scene
The American legal profession grew up in this town, creating institutions and traditions that set the style for everyone else. Boston, New York and Washington have lots of influential lawyers, but Philadelphia shapes the legal profession.

Sixth and Walnut over to Broad and Sansom
In 1751, the Pennsylvania Hospital at 8th and Spruce was 'way out in the country. Now it is in the center of a city, but the area still remains dominated by medical institutions.

Philadelphia's Big Ben

{Worlds largest bell in St. Petersburg, Russia}
Worlds largest bell in St. Petersburg, Russia

The largest bell in the world is reported to be in St. Petersburg, Russia, but the second largest is in Philadelphia. No, it isn't the Liberty Bell, which is cracked and dysfunctional, but smaller in any event. The bell sound is so penetrating it seems to come from everywhere, so it isn't surprising that many people believe it must be coming from the tower of City Hall. That's fairly close, but in fact, the bell is atop the former PNB building across the street between Chestnut and Market. When that so-and-so rings, you feel it in your bone marrow even if you are five blocks away. Because it's so big, its note has a very long period of decay, with the result that when it rings it rings very slowly and deliberately.

People who have been there reported the surprising news that there is a penthouse apartment right underneath the bell, which is so well insulated that you can hardly hear the bell toll. Underneath that, however, are suites of offices where the ringing of the bell vibrates enough to knock the fillings out of your teeth. The law department of the Philadelphia National Bank used to be right in the midst of those offices. It's reported that the lawyers in the place were busy at 11 AM every day, inviting somebody, anybody, to go out for lunch. Meet you at the restaurant or club at 11:45.

Originally published: Wednesday, January 07, 2009; most-recently modified: Friday, May 31, 2019

I've actually been to Philadelphia for a school field trip & have seen the bell but I was in 5th grade at the time & really wasn't paying attention to any of the words that our tour guide was saying. So I recommend that if you ever go, PLEASE pay attention because you will eventually regret the way you acted while you were there.
Posted by: Arlene   |   May 31, 2012 7:46 PM