what a difference 250 years make
Well, I did make a pilgrimage this morning down to Ridge Avenue and Buttonwood Street, Philadelphia, where "legend" has it that Benjamin Franklin flew a kite with key and discovered that lightening and electricity are the same thing 250 years ago. Although in an area still full of a lot of old warehouses, many now facilitating Chinese/Oriental businesses relative to Chinatown several blocks south, the "historic site" is an otherwise somewhat decrepit part of the city. There actually is an empty lot just east of Ridge Avenue on Buttonwood Street, and that's what I took pictures of. Otherwise, there is nothing at all to suggest that something of quite modern significance ever happen at this place, except perhaps the rather large outdoor electrical power station enclosed within a high chain-link fence a half block south on the other side of Ridge Avenue.
I had somewhat heightened expectations of my visitation since deciding to go yesterday morning. Last night I was watching a movie over a friends place, and I asked, "Do you know where Buttonwood Street is. I think it's right around Ridge and Spring Garden." My friend didn't have any idea, but offered me a SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) map. I found Buttonwood Street a block south of Spring Garden Street, and I thought I actually knew the site because I thought it was where a building I finally photographed this past February was. This building/warehouse is one I've known since my college days, and I always admired it because of its facade's striking similarity with the facade of Venturi and Rauch's D'Agostino House (1968, unbuilt). I then found myself even wondering whether Venturi actually knew this warehouse because, just maybe, Venturi had once gone to make his own pilgrimage to Ridge and Buttonwood. Alas, the warehouse I know is not at Ridge and Buttonwood, rather at a similar intersection with Ridge Avenue a block north of Spring Garden Street. It should be noted that Ridge Avenue is one of Philadelphia's old zig-zagging diagonal streets in contrast to the otherwise planned grid of streets, off the grid because it follows an old "Indian" trail, and in Franklin's time was the main route out of town to the north-western countryside.
I now find myself wondering what all this "says" about us in the beginning of the 21st century, a people so reliant on electricity, yet otherwise largely oblivious to how we got that way. There is a tiny triangular block just south of the empty lot on Buttonwood Street with a small used-car business on it. I knocked on the office door, and a tall black Muslim (I assume by his garb) man in his thirties answered. I asked him if heard of the story of Benjamin Franklin flying a kite and "discovering" electricity. He said, "I don't think I ever heard dat." I told him Franklin did it here over 200 years ago. He said, "What? In dis building?" I said, "No. Like over there." Then he asked in a kind of mean voice, "Why you sayin' all dis?" I then smiled, but I didn't say much more.
As I drove home up Broad Street I thought to myself in irony, "Well that was a swell way to celebrate Quondam's 6th anniversary." And then I thought, if that's what Franklin's kite flying site is like after 250 years, God only knows what Quondam will be 244 years from now.
Re: what a difference 250 years make
You're kind of exactly right when you suggest that maybe there are too many places of "historic" significance in Philadelphia, and it is interesting that you bring to mind Piranesi and his map of the Campo Marzio because that map/plan indeed records so many of ancient Rome's historic sites even though almost none of them still existed in Piranesi's time. Moreover, it is worth also keeping in mind that Piranesi was delineating a place/city more than 1400 years after the fact. It seems almost impossible to even speculate whether, for example, the old "Indian" trail of Ridge Avenue will even still exist in 3402. Then again, it would be fun to imagine what some future Philadelphia Renaissance or Baroque period might be like. Note Franklin and Piranesi are near contemporaries; Piranesi died 1778 while Franklin was in France.
Re: Burial Practices of Native Americans: Production of A Kind Architecture
I live in one of the valleys that is part of Philadelphia's Tacony Creek Watershed, specifically the valley created by (the quondam) Rock Creek (which is today a large sewer tunnel under the couple mile length of Ashdale Street since the early 1940s). The mouth of Rock Creek at Tacony Creek is today a large tunnel (not at all unlike the ancient Roman main sewer tunnel that is still to be seen along the east bank of the Tiber). It is recorded that Native Americans once lived ("camped") around the confluence of Tacony and Rock Creeks--the name Tacony is derived from the Lenni-Lenape tekene which means wooded place. The highest point of elevation (less that 1/4 mile from the point of the two creeks) is today the intersection of Rising Sun Avenue and Tabor Road [incidentally where Cardinal Dougherty and Eva Stotesbury are to be married 21 June 2004 (summer solstice), with St. James the Great and St. Ambrose presiding], where the (once rural) community of Olney was established a little over 150 years ago. Rising Sun Avenue appears to be built upon an age old "Indian" trail, and Tabor Road goes back (at least) to the first half of 1776. Since 1998 I've been wondering if Rock Creek Valley adjacent Tacony Creek and Rising Sun and Tabor was once Native American burial ground.
see also: dl 1999.02.11 Re: electromagnetism in the body
[This Saturday morning, 20 March 2004, John the Baptist Piranesi is conducting a dies sanguinis (day of blood) equinox tour of Tacony Creek Park, starting at St. Ambrose Parish School and ending at the site of the now quondam (cut down sometime a few months ago) quintuple sacred tree next to where Rising Sun Avenue crosses Tacony Creek. Those attending the tour are also invited to the Dougherty/Stotesbury Engagement Party at Lynnewood Hall that evening. Thanks to Eva's brilliant social skills, she convinced Benjamin Franklin to invite King Louis XVI to Philadelphia also on 20 March (since 20 March 1778 is when the King and Franklin first met at Versailles--the etiquette of reciprocity). Eva can barely contain herself at the prospect of showing King Louis around the quondam site of Whitemarsh Hall, her main Trumbauer house, "the Versailles of America."]
“...your film will be confiscated.”
In an effort to get fit, I've started to take morning bike rides leaving from my back door. I make my way up to Roosevelt Blvd. (US Rt. 1) where it crosses Tacony Creek (where Indians once camped -- see wqc/03/0280.htm) and then head east towards the site of the world's largest building implosion (excepting the WTC), quondam site of Sears and Roebuck Northeast Distribution Center (where the parents of Ron Evitts first met) and now home to Home Depot, Wal-mart, Staples, Pep boys, Mattress Giant, Old Navy, etc., etc. I circle this complex once completely, and then head north a bit to circle the Naval Inventory Control Point (a big .US place). On Robbins Avenue, on the lawn in front of the naval depot's main office building, are three vintage fighter planes. I had forgotten these planes were there, but now I recall being always excited to see them as a young child. As I pass the main entrance gate to the depot, I think to stop and ask one of the guards if one is allowed to take pictures of the planes from outside the fence. The guard (in a very friendly manner) answered, "No, you're not allowed. If you are seen doing so by one of the security patrols your film will be confiscated." I then asked if this policy was put in place after 9-11, to which the guard replied, "No. I know the Russians have 1000s of pictures of them, but you're still not allowed to take pictures. It has always been a security breech." I then told him "I'm glad I asked" and rode off. I now head south towards the Roosevelt Blvd. again, just a block east of the implosion site. I again circle the shopping center and then head home. [elapsed time: 45 minutes]
Much of this loop comprises long straight stretches, and the terrain is consistently very close to flat. Today, I was mostly thinking about Baroness Franziska von Ow. Earlier this year, my mother told me that, although the Baroness had her own car and, before the war, her own chauffeur, in 1943 the Baroness's car was in the garage, albeit without tires--the Baron's car was confiscated outright so he took the trolley to work as Dean of the agricultural machinery department of Munich's technical university. On most days, the Baroness left the villa on her bike and apparently rode into town, or, as my mother says, "Who knows where she went."
first major African American architect, etc.
according to a post at online link:
"Abele family oral history alleges that Eva Stotesbury attended Julian Abele's funeral held at his south Philadelphia townhouse in 1950."
Eva Stotesbury died 31 May 1946, but, as she recently told Franziska, Eva was indeed spotted by some of the family at Julian's funeral.
[According to Triumph on Fairmount, Edward T. Stotesbury died 16 May 1938. This is incorrect, and this mistake has led to a string of mistakes as posted here by lauf-s. Here are the corrections:
16 May 1946 - Eva Stotesbury has a severe heart attack.
21 May 1502 - discovery of St. Helena Island by Portuguese.
21 May 1938 - death of Edward T. Stotesbury; see wmpc/01/0022.htm for some more calendrical coincidences.
22 May 337 - death of Constantine the Great near Nicomedia.
30 May 1640 - death of Pieter Pauwel Rubens
31 May 1946 - death of Eva Stotesbury at Marisol, Palm Beach, Florida.
31 May 1951 - death of Dennis Cardinal Dougherty
21 June 2004 - marriage of Dennis Joseph Cardinal Dougherty and Lucretia "Eva" Bishop Roberts Cromwell Stotesbury (at the intersection of Rising Sun Avenue and Tabor Road, a quondam Lenni Lenape solstice celebration site).]
Rising Sun and Tabor
I like how Mount Tabor in the Holy Land is where the Transfiguration took place.
The intersection of Rising Sun and Tabor then marks the crossing of a nicely named inversionary cardo and decumanus.
Rising Sun Avenue is an old Lenni-Lenape trail. It starts as an offshoot of Germantown Avenue, which is also originally an 'Indian' trail that begins in what became Northern Liberties--Penn's 'working title' for Philadelphia was Liberties.
The intersection of Rising Sun Avenue and Tabor Road is right on a high outlook point, indeed the destination of the Lenni-Lenapi trail. Their camp at the mouth of Rock Run on Tacony Creek, just down in the valley, primarily farmed and took care of the many honored burial sites of Rock Run Valley [which in the 1990s some locals referred to as VooDoo Valley; many Haitians now inhabit the valley].
Tabor Road was first 'planned' under King George III in 1776 as the link between Germantown in the west and Trinity Church in the east. [The first time I tested this entire route from east to west, I was going to the annual reenactment of the Battle of Germantown at Clivden a couple years ago. The route is (I don't know like) 8 miles and remarkably direct.]
The Rock Run camp at Tekene was always very busy right before the summer solstice, because that's when "the" outlook point was the destination for many, many Ur-Philadelphians.
[Apparently, the weavers of the Great Isfahan have lately taken up special acrobatic lessons, and now a whole elaborate arrival show is about to happen.]
Ludwig, Leni and the Lenni-Lenape
Ludwig first met Leni 8 September 2003. This meeting wouldn't have happened, however, if Leni hadn't died in a town on Starnberger See, the lake within which Ludwig himself drowned.
Leni sure enjoyed Africa in "her time", but, like they say, "life" goes on, so, ever since yesterday when she ventured up Rising Sun Avenue from Germantown Avenue to Rock Run Valley, a new photo project--A Quondam Lenni-Lenape Land--is in the works.
[Philadelphia's Old York Road is also a Lenni-Lenape trail, and it shoots off Germantown Avenue and the same place that Rising Sun Avenue shoots off Germantown.]
Leni's new assistants are Chief Tamane, Heinrich Frey and Josef Plattenbach.
I'm living in the same house since October 1958.
I believe the valley my house is in used to contain many Lenni Lenape graves.
It was my idea to have cedar tress planted at the quondam Whitaker Mills because Whitaker Mills' first address was Cedar Grove.
sanguine sagaciousness -- link to wqc/03/0280.htm
I liked the images of the Henry Miller too. I can understand the ire at what these 'false' facades represent, as well. Nonetheless, the images (for me at least) evoke memories of the free standing, screen facades that Mitchell/Giurgola Architects incorporated into a fair numbers of their designs mostly during the 1970s (--John, I'm sure you know the M/G building at Columbia U., got any tales to tell?), and I'll collect what images I have and publish them at Q soon. I think the immediate precedent for this practice was Kahn's notion of "wrapping ruins around buildings," which (I think) was said in regard to the Library at Exeter (1965-72), but it may have been said in reference to the Meeting House at Salk (1961-62, unexecuted) or even the US Consulate, Luanda, Angola (1959-62, unexecuted).
This past Sunday afternoon (when this thread started), I was having spot portions of my home's back facade repointed--lots of little mortar pieces fell out this past winter due to much moist weather and more than occasional extreme temperature changes from day to day. On Saturday the workmen were doing my Haitian neighbor's back wall across the driveway, and I got them to do mine, so they came back Sunday. These workmen have "day jobs" and they do these smaller jobs "cheaper" on the weekends. Anyway, after the work, the guy whose scaffolding it was, another Haitian and friend to my neighbor and someone I chatted with out back on a hot night this past July, told me about all the work they're doing around South Street and Bainbridge Street near Graduate Hospital. He said, "They are buying the homes from the Black people, then they take all the inside out, make it all new inside, then the White people buy the homes for $600,000 and $700,000 dollars."
In the summertime, I got a real kick out of telling these three Haitian guys about all the Philadelphia streets that were first "Indian" trails. These guys could really relate because they actually know Philadelphia's streets pretty well--I think they were all taxi drivers when they first came here. Finally, the "scaffolding" guy asked, "When was all this?" I said, "Like more than 300 years ago." Then he said, "Oh my God, that's old!" And then they all laughed, and we kind of shook our heads in wonderment.