The Buried Past: An Archaeological History of Philadelphia

By John L. Cotter; Daniel G. Roberts et al. | Go to book overview

3

Independence National Historical Park

THE HOUSES OF WILLIAM PENN

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S LOST HOUSE

CARPENTERS' COURT: A SURPRISING FIND

ARCHAEOLOGY IN THE CRADLE OF THE NATION: INDEPENDENCE HALL AND ITS SURROUNDINGS

BISHOP WHITE'S HOUSE: HOW A GOOD MAN LIVED ABOVE THE EVILS OF INSANITATION

THE GRAFF HOUSE AND THE KOSCIUSZKO HOUSE: FLEETING VISITS AND LASTING FAME

THE MCILVAINE HOUSE PRIVY AND AREA F: HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY IN PRACTICE

Independence National Historical Park holds the greatest concentration of historic and archaeological sites in Philadelphia. The idea for such a park, germinated in the 1920s and 1930s, acquired roots and supporters during World War II as concern about possible fire-bombings mounted. To reduce the risk of fire to some of the nation's most historic buildings, Philadelphia Court Judge Edwin O. Lewis, in concert with several other influential Philadelphians, proposed the razing of various deteriorating structures just north of Independence Square and the creation of a small, open park in the cleared space. Other prominent participants in the genesis of the park were Dr. William E. Lingelbach, a distinguished professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and librarian of the American Philosophical Society, and Charles E. Peterson, F.A.I.A., chief representative of the National Park Service in the negotiations for the park and a strong advocate of preserving all buildings of merit. *

From an initial plan for a modest park adjacent to Independence Square, the scope of the project steadily grew. The result was a full-scale federal park, authorized by an act of Congress on June 28, 1948. Today Independence National Historical Park, as the site was named, has at its center the tract of land between Chestnut and Walnut streets and Second Street and Independence Square (Figure 3.1). The park also encompasses Franklin Court, which juts north above the main tract at Chestnut Street, as well as some relatively more distant sites, including the Graft House at Seventh and Market streets,

____________________
*
This section reflects Charles Peterson's personal recollections of the development of Independence National Historical Park.

-74-

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