It’s time to discover Philadelphia’s secrets.
Shhh…It’s a secret. And with the city being one of the oldest in the country, Philadelphia’s secrets date back centuries. We all have our secrets, but Philadelphia has a few that you definitely haven’t heard about…until now.
A Road of Wooden Blocks
Behold the only wooden street that still remains here in America. Camac Street lies at the center of the city between 12th and 13th streets. In the 1830s, the cobblestone got covered with blocks made of oak and pine to reduce the noises made from horses’ hooves and the carriages that they pulled. With modern engineering and new technologies, we can avoid issues like water damage and effects of overuse on the streets we build today. But this old, wooden road remains very prone to the elements and, as a result, has not stayed in tip-top shape. Despite its current condition, Camac Street’s history makes it a highlight on this list of Philadelphia’s secrets.
The Statue of William Penn
The statue of William Penn atop Philly’s City Hall retained, at one point in time, the title of highest point in Philadelphia. The iconic statue weighs a total of about 27 tons and looks out over the city. What makes this one of Philadelphia’s secrets when everyone can see the statue as soon as they look at the skyline? The key lies with the hollow inside of the statue. In addition, William’s hat contains hidden devices used for telecommunication and broadcasting, giving him a purpose beyond his historical significance. Who knew!?
Underground Swimming Pools
The Fairmount Water Works, situated along the Schuylkill River, remains vital to the city’s operations and utilities. Below it, in an underground tunnel, you can find Olympic-sized swimming pools originally gifted by the Kelly family for the public to enjoy. In 1973, however, the pools closed. But, to this day, the abandoned pools remain there underneath the Fairmount Water Works.
The Abandoned Railway
Beneath the parkway lies a vast, abandoned railway that stretches all the way from Broad Street to 27th. It closed in 1992 and still remains somewhat visible today. The tracks run through an underground tunnel that often gets visited by urban explorers in the city. There have been several discussions about plans involving the transformation of the tunnel into a high-speed thruway that would make the parkway a friendlier option for tourists. Those plans changed, however, as the city announced, and has recently opened the first section of a brand new ‘Rail Park’ modeled after the High Line in New York City.
The Dark History Behind the Lauren Hill Cemetery Statue
A popular Polish sculptor carved the statue in the 1850s. He devoted it to the memory to his late wife and twins, who tragically drowned in the Schuylkill River. Although weather-beaten and faded, it remains one of the most striking sculptures in the Laurel Hill Cemetery (one of the oldest cemeteries in the country).
We’ve listed a few of Philadelphia’s secrets, but plenty more exist. Do you know of any? Leave a comment below to help us add to the growing list of Philadelphia’s secrets!!