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Events Scheduled for 2012 at the Lazaretto!

  • Oct. 6 & 7: It's time to lower the flag on the quarantine season, and the Friends of the Lazaretto have organized a wide variety of presentations, activities, and tours. Stop by for a quick visit or stay for both days' festivities!

    • Saturday: Starting at 10am — Soldiers Muster/Flag Raising, Site Tour, Civil War Reenactor John W. Lynn, Life as a Civil War Surgeon Presentation, Big Band Music with Randy Plessor & Heavenly DJs, 17thy Century Brewing, Vintage 1864 Baseball Game, Paranormal Talk with Sherri Groff and much more! Download the pdf of the complete day's events!
    • Sunday: Starting at 8am — Sunday service at St. John's Episcopal Church, Soldiers muster, "Who do you think you are?" with the Genealogical Society of PA, 18th C. Food Gathering and Hunting with Bob Bardsley, Site Tour, Wool Spinning, Domestic Life in the 19th Century, Red Cross and WWII Displays and much more! Download the pdf of the complete day's events!

    For more information email info@lazaretto.org

Historic Marker

New Historical Marker Recognizes the Lazaretto. The text on the marker will read, "Lazaretto Quarantine Station — Delaware — It is believed to be the last remaining quarantine station in the United States. For much of the 19th century, it was where many Europeans were first introduced to the United States." Full story.

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Becky Sell gives a tour of the Lazaretto historic site. Here she is standing in front of the main building. See more

Lazaretto

The Lazaretto lies on the banks of the Delaware River just west of the Philadelphia Airport. It tells the story of quarantine and entry to America from 1643 to 1893. It also tells the story of early aviation.

The Lazaretto Site spans the area from the Delaware River to Second Street (see picture below), and consists of the 18th century main building, several smaller buildings and the site of the historic burial grounds at the northeast corner.

As David Barnes wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Some have called the Lazaretto Philadelphia's Ellis Island, but from a historical standpoint, it is even rarer and more precious than New York's famous immigrant inspection station. A century older than the Ellis Island facility, the original 1799 Lazaretto structure still stands as a silent monument to the first hundred years of our nation's conflicted history of immigration and public health." [Full article.]

Before it was a quarantine station, it was part of the 1643 Swedish settlement, the first permanent European settlement in Pennsylvania. It is also the story of the Lenni Lenape who lived here before the Swedes, and was later a seaplane base in the earliest days of aviation.

Following months of controversy, in November 2006 a settlement was reached between the township and historic groups over the protection of the historic resources and the construction of a new firehouse complex on the site.

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Philadelphia Free Library Print and Picture Department
Aerial view of the Lazaretto c 1929. See full picture

Background

In 1799, the Lazaretto Station was established in response to the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793. The complex included a large main building, several outbuildings, and a burial ground. Much of this site still remains today. Philadelphia-bound ships stopped here for cargo to be inspected and passengers to be screened. Infested cargoes were fumigated or destroyed completely. Ill passengers were brought ashore to the main building or hospital of the Lazaretto for quarantine to await recovery or death.

By some estimates, as many as 1 out of 3 Americans today are descended from those whose first exposure to the New World was here.

In the early part of the 20th century, this location took on a new life as as the first seaplane base in Pennsylvania and one of the first in the United States, an early chapter in aviation history.

The flying school comprised a prestigious group, including Colonel Robert Edward Glendinning, George C. Thomas, Judge J. Willis Martin, A.J. Drexel Biddle, F.H. Maguire, Joseph N. Pew Jr., John B. Stetson Jr., Caleb Fox, Franklin Pepper, Samuel Eckert, Howard Pew, Stephen Noyes, Alexander Brown, Clark Thompson, and Mrs. Paul Denkla Mills.

[See history resources for fuller history and a comprehensive report.]

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