The South Street Renaissance. It produced Philadelphia’s Magic Garden, a delightful outdoor museum of mosaics and assorted objects gracing walkways and staircases on South Street. It is the largest “piece” of work by local artist Isaiah Zagar. He and his wife moved to South Street in 1968 and opened a gallery to sell Latin American art. This project grew out of that. If you look a few entries below this one, in Havana, Cuba, we visited a similar folk art installation, Fusterlandia. When we mentioned it to a guide, she heartily agreed that they were of the same mold.
After those photos are those of a historic pub, Philadelphia’s oldest continuously operating tavern, McGillin’s Old Ale House. It opened its doors in 1860, the year Abraham Lincoln was first voted into office! It has the wonderful atmosphere of a true Irish pub, and on the walls, they have every liquor license issued to them since 1871. The food was wonderful, with the lowest prices we have ever seen in a large city.
After those photos are random shots from around the city, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. It was very hot, so walking around was quite a challenge! Elfreth’s Alley was a special stop, as I visited there 20 years ago on a choir tour. It is the oldest residential street in the US, and is still occupied, with lots of red on the houses, which looks really “colonial.” After that, we stopped in Reading Terminal Market for some beverages, and found a wonderful mashup of produce vendors and food vendors.
The crowning delight on this visit to Philadelphia is shown in the final photos and video….the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ, the largest fully functioning pipe organ in the world. It has 28,750 pipes and six manuals (keyboards). Its string division forms the largest single organ chamber in the world. It was originally built for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, where the world-famous organist and composer Alexandre Guilmant played 40 concerts before it was fully completed. It cost a whopping $105,000 ($2.9 million in today’s dollars), and sat in a warehouse until John Wanamaker bought it for his new department store, a full 5 years later. It took 13 freight cars to ship it, and 2 years to install. It was first played on June 22, 1911, at the exact moment British King George III was crowned. President William Taft dedicated the store later that year, and the organ was featured again. A concert series took shape, and the performances took place after the store closed for the day. Famed organists/composers Louis Vierne and Marcel Dupre were among the performers invited from around the world play this marvelous instrument.