By Brady Dale.
With Spring set to usher in the city’s inexhaustible festival season, we can’t help but dream about gathering with friends, neighbors and acquaintances. Big parties are an anchor of any city and Philadelphia has a long, proud history of them. From the dozens of legendary Fourth of July’s to the annual Mummers Day Parade, parties are a local tradition. Here’s some parties of all shapes and sizes you can see documents of in the photo archives here on Philly History.
The Founders Day Celebration in 1908 celebrated 225 years of Philadelphia as a city. From an earlier post on this site about that specific celebration.
Historical Day on Friday, October 9, featured a large historical pageant held on Broad Street. The pageant was divided into nine divisions with multiple floats illustrating the historic events that occurred in each division. Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer, a local historian and one of the pageant’s organizers, felt that the event should provide a historical and civic education to Philadelphians, rather than simply serving as another form of entertainment.
The Clean Up Week Parade. Let’s bring it back? Here’s another great photo of this ensemble.
A party at the New Market House, at 2nd and Pine, which was established in 1745. There had already been a market attached to the court house at 2nd and Market, a bit to the north.
In all the pictures of the old Court House there is seen a little balcony projecting from the second story. … from the same balcony, in provincial days it was customary to read all proclamations. It was from this place that the citizens of Philadelphia in 1714 heard proclaimed that George I was their new king.
The court house was demolished in 1837, according to Watson’s Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. You can see a drawing of the original court house in this History of Philadelphia.
The opening of the airport gave the city something to celebrate. The marked the event exactly as we would today. By bringing out guys who build model airplanes to demonstrate their hobby for a cheering crowd.
New Year’s Eve formal dance at the Benedict Club, U.S.O.-N.C.C.S., 157 North 15th Street, Philadelphia, Pa. Photographed by Edward Hagan. The Benedict Club was apparently a space designated by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for social affairs during war time, based on this record.
The Curtis Institute’s Holiday Party goes back all the way to 1926. Here’s a photo of a costume party, in the tradition, from 1951.
This photo might seem a little sedate for the 1960s, but it is worth marking the fact that a group of Italian Mayors came to Philadelphia. Not so long ago, our Mayor Nutter joined a delegation of city leaders to go to Florence, after all.
To make sure that July 4th, 1977, was really a party, Mayor Frank Rizzo got Frank Sinatra to come back to town and receive the Freedom Medal.
North Philadelphia’s Africamericas Festival included a wide array of avant garde and traditional arts, and culturally spanned from America to Africa to the Caribbean. More from Philly.com:
“When the City Representative’s office told me that they wanted to do the festival in North Philadelphia, I viewed it as a chance to do something positive for the area,” said coordinator Kofi Asante, a performing artist who has worked with such cultural organizations as the Arthur Hall Afro American Dance Ensemble, the Avante Theatre Company and the Black Theater Festival.
Also in the 80s, John Travolta marked the occasion of completing Blow Out with Brian DePalma.
Mayor Rendell greets future voters. In 1997, ten neighborhoods held festivals around July 4th to welcome America. West Oak Lane’s included a gospelrama, as well as the usual festival atmosphere.
Do you have photos from parties in years gone by? Upload them somewhere and let us know how to find them.