Credits and Project Background
The genesis of these virtual tours began with John Francis Marion's seminal walking guidebook to Philadelphia, "Walking Tours of Historic Philadelphia," originally published in 1974. In a city that venerates venerable institutions, Mr. Marion, who passed on in 1994, was as beloved a Philadelphia institution as any of those he wrote about.
Marion was a man of letters — an anachronism in an increasingly image-driven world — but right at home in a city with a foot in the past. He was by steps a newspaperman, literary agent, editor, author of several books on Philadelphia, tour guide, and raconteur.
Based on Work by
John Francis Marion
In updating his book for this virtual tour, we met many of the people Mr. Marion interviewed when he was writing "Walking Tours." Everyone we talked to had great admiration for him, an anecdote to share, and a great sense of loss that he was no longer here to regale them. His knowledge of Philadelphia was nonpareil; his love of the City of Brotherly Love self-evident.
These tours were culled from Marion's book. Part of what makes the tours so fascinating is that Philadelphia — birthplace of a nation — remains largely forgotten, unappreciated, and in fact, belittled. We think we know Philadelphia — Independence Hall, Ben Franklin, the Declaration of Independence, Betsy Ross, cheese steaks, and pretzels. But after walking with Marion these people, places and things start to have relevance again. In Marion's own words, "On our walk throughout the gardens and greenwalks, the streets and alleys, in and out of the buildings of today's city we can sense what Philadelphia was like long ago and ultimately what the roots of American History are." Bon voyage.
Inspired by this project and hopeful that this work will inspire a renewed vigor and interest in history, Mr. Heller composed the following double dactyl:
Enter the doorway to
Mom says, "Our country was,
Born in this meeting place!"
Kids: "Where's a mall?"