text: seven walking tours through historic philadelphia



Athenaeum

Our next stop on the square is the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, a library founded in 1814 and housed in this beautiful Italianate building designed by John Notman. Its purpose is "to maintain a reference library for members and the public, a depository of rare books and periodicals of interest to scholars, to join actively in the cultural life of Philadelphia by participation in historical and educational activities and in the recognition of outstanding literary achievement in Philadelphia." Election to membership involves purchasing a share of stock which can descend through the stockholder's family in successive generations. Among their treasures are a copy in marble of Canova's reclining nude of Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon's infamous sister, three handsome portraits by John Neagle, and a splendid Empire desk attributed to Michel Bouvier (Jackie O's ancestor) and thought to have been in Joseph Bonaparte's home.



Washington Square and West