National Geographic : 1952 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine sheet metal, it has made many of the modern streamlined, stainless-steel railroad passenger trains. Recently it has been making the Vista Dome-type car and the self-propelled passenger car, or RDC (for "rail Diesel car"). The Budd Company had only 13 employees when it was formed in 1912; now it has more than 20,000. The largest single employer and taxpayer in Philadelphia is not one of these great in dustrial plants but the country's largest rail road system, the Pennsylvania. It has its headquarters in Philadelphia, owns $215,000, 000 worth of property in the city, operates 577 passenger trains in, out, and through it daily, and owns 15 large and 182 smaller pas senger and freight stations there. Philadelphia is the heart of a railway net work which reaches most of the cities of the Atlantic seaboard and Middle West. There is no other city approaching Philadelphia in size through which so many million railroad pas sengers travel with no intention of getting off. Nor is there any other city in the world of Philadelphia's size that exists less than 100 miles from such a giant as New York. It survives and thrives despite the nearness of the metropolis, which, by the very nature of its gravitational pull, draws men and resources from places near and far. Hallowed Shrines in New National Park For nearly a century Philadelphia stood first among American cities, eminent in many re spects. It was the seat of government during the Revolution and for ten vital years after wards, and it holds the most hallowed shrine in America, Independence Hall, birthplace of the Nation (page 39).* On January 2, 1951, the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior took over administration and maintenance of the Independence Hall group of buildings. Thus the history-packed older section of the city becomes Independence National Historical Park, the country's most important historic project today. The city deserves the Nation's gratitude for acquiring Independence Square and its shrines from the State of Pennsylvania in 1818 and maintaining them for 133 years. The State is now cooperating with the Fed eral and city governments by working to build a landscaped mall from the front of Independence Hall to the Delaware River Bridge. Some of the demolition work already has been done. The new national park will also include, either by ownership or cooperative arrange ment, Carpenters' Hall, where the First Con tinental Congress was held: the properties of the First and Second Banks of the United States; the home of Bishop William White, the leader in forming the Protestant Epis copal Church in the United States after the Revolution out of what had been the Church of England in colonial days; Christ Church, where a number of the founders of the Re public worshipped; the site of Benjamin Franklin's residence; and other historic sites and buildings. Hope to Unearth Ben Franklin's Home It is probably easier to capture the begin nings of our history in Philadelphia than in any other large city. Here the historic build ings-domestic, ecclesiastical, and public-can be seen in the compass of a short walk. The presence of great men of the past, such as William Penn and Benjamin Franklin, is strangely pervasive. But unfortunately there is not a single place where Franklin worked or lived left standing. Archeologists for the National Park Service plan to excavate foun dations under Franklin Court to see if any remains of his residence can be found. Seven Signers of the Declaration of Inde pendence, including Franklin, are buried in the churchyard of Christ Church or in its burial ground, a few squares from the church itself. If the visitor to Philadelphia does nothing else to resurrect the 18th century, he should follow the quaint winding brick walk from the burial ground gate to the simple graves of Franklin and his wife, Deborah. Many famous Philadelphia cultural institu tions, such as art galleries, museums, and scientific institutes, stand on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which radiates northwest from City Hall. Bounded by Market Street, Franklin Park way, and the Schuylkill River is a nondescript triangle soon to be redeveloped in the grand manner. This area has been held back by the "Chinese Wall," the elevated tracks by which Pennsylvania Railroad passenger trains have long penetrated the heart of the city to the old Broad Street Station. This station and wall will shortly be re moved, and trains will then use two relatively new stations, one underground for suburban trains, at the eastern end of the triangle, and the other the large 30th Street Station just across the Schuylkill River from the triangle. Partly because of subways running east and west and north and south under City Hall, and partly because of the underground suburban station, the heart of Philadelphia is under laid with a perfect maze of pedestrian passage ways. In the redeveloped triangle another series of sunken pedestrian plazas has been * See "Shrines of Each Patriot's Devotion," by Frederick G. Vosburgh, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGA ZINE, January, 1949.