Electric ...
Ben Franklin


Next stop:Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Franklin's Philadelphia

Ben There ... Done That!

Franklin sculpture
Trying to comprehend Benjamin Franklin's life and legacy is like trying to grab a shadow. Each time one tries to get a fix on the reflection, it darts away and grows even larger.

"Who and what was Benjamin Franklin?" was the question we asked at the outset of this project.

Franklin plaque
By turns pamphleteer, apprentice, printer, balladeer, inventor, philosopher, politician, soldier, firefighter, ambassador, family man, sage, delegate, signer, shopkeeper, bookseller, cartoonist, grandfather, anti-slavery agitator, Mason, and deist — he was all of the above and none of the above.

His great biographer Carl Van Doren called Franklin "a harmonious human multitude." As Franklin was an "electrician" also, we kept looking for a common current that defined him. From the time he was a teenager thinking about ways of education to the time he was an 83-year-old man agitating for abolition, the mainspring of the "human multitude" may well have been public service. Much of what Franklin did was directed to improving his city and the lives of Philadelphians.

Fittingly, Franklin's legacy is ubiquitous in Philadelphia. From the societies and public institutions that he helped found, to the institutions and neighborhoods that bear his name, to the businesses that today use his likeness, to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia is still very much Franklin's city.

In seeking out his legacy, we tailored our pages to fit an apt acrostic. Truth be told we could have spent a lifetime creating this page and website.

In the end we are left to marvel, enjoy, and be energized by Franklin's life and legacy. He like his most famous discovery was electric.

Next stop:Benjamin Franklin Parkway

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