Before Independence Mall

Independence Hall at Chestnut Street, circa 1910. I think this would have had to have been taken from the top of the American Philosophical Society at 5th & Chestnut Streets. This comes from the Library of Congress.

It’s amazing to look at this scene of an earlier Philadelphia and see how different this section of Old City was a century ago. There was no “Independence Mall” yet, and Independence Hall was just a part of the fabric of the neighborhood—not yet something set apart from the city in such a fundamentally distinct way as it is now.

City Hall, filthy, can be seen in the distance. Other than that, there’s not much in this photo that the contemporary Philadelphian would recognize.

It’s fascinating to think about the entire lived experience of so many in the buildings that were eventually destroyed to create Independence Mall—entire lives, entire histories took place there.

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