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Philadelphia Oddities

Peter the Mint Eagle

Peter
Peter the Mint Eagle

Grip might have inspired two of the world's most renowned writers, but Philadelphia has its own beloved bird — a proud bald eagle who has been soaring in a motionless flight for nearly two centuries.

Apparently, eagles still inhabited Philadelphia in the early 19th century and one friendly bird began spending evening hours at the first U.S. Mint (1792-1833) on 7th Street near Arch. Eventually, Peter started hanging out inside the industrial building complex. "Before long, the magnificent eagle had access to every vault in the Mint," declares the printed material next to the stuffed bird.

"The bird's fame soon spread throughout Philadelphia. He was recognized as he flew over the rooftops. . . . . According to legend, Peter lived at the Mint for six years." Then tragedy struck. "Peter was perched on the flywheel of a coining press when it suddenly started. His wing was caught and broken. Mint employees gave Peter the best and most tender care they knew, but the eagle's injuries were grave. After his death, Peter was superbly mounted."

The exact years of Peter's life and tragic demise are not known. You can see the old bird inside the entrance of the U.S. Mint at 5th and Arch streets. A beautiful bronze statue of a bald eagle on a petrified tree stump stands near the flying carcass of Peter.

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