East Falls Local

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Category: History (Page 1 of 5)

Sips About to Get Real

Taste the difference a little TLC makes for fine wine.  

You hear it so often from people back from a European vacation it’s cliché: “The wine over there is So. Much. Better.” Same deal with the Napa Valley. You just have to go there to appreciate the wine at its source.

Or! You can buy the wine there and then transport it home in a climate-controlled container (monitoring temperatures the whole way, to be sure). Store it in your fridge until you’re ready to drink it.

Sound like a hassle? Really, all you have to do is drive 20 minutes to Pennsauken NJ, or come out Wednesday night to Art & Architecture Happy Hour at St. James the Less, where sommelier Greg Moore presents his tasting table of artisanal European wines.

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Monumental Makeover

Our Revolutionary War memorial gets a makeover.

Today I saw some men digging out a large stone memorial having to do with George Washington in front of the water facility on Queen Lane. Does this have something to do with the country’s current race issues?

Oh no, Trump was right – you tear down one Confederate statue and where does it end? Apparently one reader thought the Revolutionary War Memorial at the Queen Lane Reservoir was next.

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HISTORY MATTERS: Put a Ring on It

If you’ve ever wondered about East Falls’ “castle” on Kelly Drive, Joseph Minardi’s got all the scoop on this Victorian riverside party spot. 

Castle Ringstetten is the picturesque upriver clubhouse of the Undine Barge Club, founded in 1856 for “healthful exercise” and “relaxation from business.”  Indeed, the club has the ambience of gentlemanly club-life from a bygone era.

Construction on the lovely edifice began in 1875.

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EFFF: East Falls’ Frank Furness

Come to the Castle for East Falls Oktoberfest! This historic boathouse is one of the few remaining buildings by Frank Furness, a gun-toting, spear-stabbing Civil War hero with a flair for mad design. 

You’ll see this September 30th — Frank Furness was one sassy architect!

When the rest of Philadelphia (and the US, really) was still copying Europe, he looked West to define a bold new style unlike anything seen before. He’s also the only famous architect ever to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

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HISTORY MATTERS: The Amazin’ Weightman

William Weightman made his name in the pharmaceutical game as the “Quinine King,” and left an indelible architectural legacy in East Falls & surrounding Philadelphia.

East Falls’ William Weightman (1813-1904) was one of the wealthiest men in America at the time of his death, amassing a fortune worth over $51 billion in today’s money — CNN rated him #20 of the all-time richest Americans.  Yet he is far less famous than his fellow fat cats like John D. Rockefeller and the Cornelius Vanderbilt.

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HISTORY MATTERS: Fort St. Davids

We’re called “East Falls” — but where are the waterfalls? Joseph Minardi explains our piscine origins, when the Schuylkill river roared with rapids (and delicious protein). In pre-Revolutionary days, a group of prominent Welshman from Philadelphia, some of whom were Quakers and close associates of William Penn, organized a society and a clubhouse that was the genesis of East Falls.  They called themselves the Society of Fort St. David’s in honor of the patron saint of Wales.

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History Matters: Putting on the Ritz at Alden Park

After a $70+ million restoration, Alden Park Apartments now recalls its heyday in the 1920’s, when its lush grounds and dramatic vistas were once a playground for the well-to-do.

As we prepare to celebrate a new Alden Park this July 22nd, local historian Joe Minardi sets the stage with the scoop on this old Strawbridge estate that became an architectural wonderland in our own backyard. 

The 1920s was an exciting time of change and optimism in America.  It was an era of bootleggers, flappers, and hot jazz music. Before the stock market crash of 1929 millions of Americans were getting rich in the stock market. Bankers were more than eager to lend big dollars to builders with big dreams. Alden Park Manor on Wissahickon Avenue was just such a dream.

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Final Bow: Remembering Harry Prime

East Falls says goodbye to beloved hometown boy Harry Prime, one of the last remaining Big Band legends in the world who died suddenly (of natural causes) in his home June 15th at the ripe age of 97.

He lived almost a century, but it’s still hard to believe such a vigorous spirit is gone. Although dogged by chronic impairments in his last days, Harry had remained sharp as a tack and was looking forward to performing again for friends and family as soon as he was able.

“He was a great singer and storyteller, I’m really glad I knew him,” said Tom Leschak of Epicure Cafe, where Harry wowed his last audience in 2015 — and where Harry grew up in the 40’s, in the apartment above what used to be a market.

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Closing Time

Last call for Murphy’s? NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! 

Unbe-freakin-believable. If you’re like us, you were stunned when you heard the news: a famous East Falls bar will soon be history. Say it isn’t so, Murphy’s Irish Saloonery!

“It’s time,” Mike Murphy told us — not nearly as gently as he should have, by the way (a free beer would’ve lessened the blow, just sayin’).

But this place is an institution, and it’s busy every night. The best Irish bar in the state, yet. What gives?

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Springtime menace: Floods and freshets on the Schuylkill River

Springtime on the Schuylkill in the 19th century could be extremely hazardous because of sudden ice thaws known as freshets.

Kelly Drive. May 1, 2014

Flooding these days on Kelly Drive is often an inconvenience. Traffic gets rerouted and things are back to normal in a few hours. But not long ago, flash floods known as freshets could wreak immense havoc.

Destructive power of freshets
These flash floods occurred in March or April, when ice sheets covering the Schuylkill began to thaw, crack, and move downstream. Occasionally, these floes piled on top of one another, clogging the river at choke points and forming enormous ice dams.

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