Archive: July, 2013
Samuel Hopkins (1765-1840) was granted the first U.S. patent (Patent No. 1) on *July 31*, 1790, for an improvement "in the making Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process."
Hopkins was a Philadelphia Quaker who later moved to New Jersey, although other sources say that he was from Pittsford, Vermont, and was living in Philadelphia when the patent was
Whatever the case, Patent No. 1 was signed by President Washington, Attorney General Randolph and Secretary of State Jefferson. The original document is still in existence in the collections of the Chicago Historical Society.
West Fairmount Park's "Playhouse in the Park" opened on July 30, 1952, as the nation's first municipally-owned and managed theater.
Famed Philadelphian John B. Kelly had given the impetus for its creation on the historic Belmont Mansion estate while he was President of the Fairmount Park Commission. The theater was initially a large tent offering seating capacity of 1,057.
It presented all manner of summer stock theater, with Broadway stars and playwrights contributing to its popularity. Margaret Truman (President Truman's daughter) and local star Grace Kelly (John Kelly's daughter) were among the luminaries who performed there.
In 1786 the membership of St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia included both blacks and whites. However, the white members met that year and decided that thereafter black members should sit only in the balcony.
Two black Sunday worshippers, Absalom Jones (1746-1818) and Richard Allen (1760-1831), whose enthusiasm for the Methodist Church had brought many blacks into the congregation, learned of the decision only when, on the following Sunday, ushers tapped them on the shoulder during the opening prayers, and demanded that they move to the balcony without waiting for the end of the prayer.
They walked out, followed by the other black members.
The former WFIL Studio in West Philadelphia is not only famous as the original site of American Bandstand, it is also recognized as the first building in the nation designed as a television studio.
In September of 1947, when WFIL began television broadcasting, the station was one of only a handful of stations operating in the United States. At the time, most stations were converting existing radio stations or renovating other existing space rather than spending money on new construction.
Walter Annenberg and his company, Triangle Publications, however, were in the process of building a media empire. Triangle Publications owned The Philadelphia Inquirer, WFIL and the Philadelphia Arena, a 9,000-seat professional sports stadium built in 1920 in West Philadelphia.
The Society Hill Theatre became the first playhouse in North America.
It was once located at the southwest corner of Hancock and South Streets, beyond the city limits and thus out of the jurisdiction of the town authorities.
The first performance of Hamlet in America occurred on July 27, 1759. Lewis Hallam, Jr. (1740-1808), "The Father of the American Theatre" and leader of the American Company, played the lead role.
Benjamin Franklin, newly returned from England, was appointed chairman of a Committee of Investigation to establish a postal system.
The report of the Committee, providing for the appointment of a postmaster general for the 13 American colonies, was considered by the Second Continental Congress on July 25 and 26.
On July 26, 1775, Franklin was appointed Postmaster General. The members of the Second Continental Congress agreed "...that a Postmaster General be appointed for the United States, who shall hold his office at Philadelphia, and shall be allowed a salary of 1,000 dollars per annum..."
Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins was one of the greatest American artists of the 19th century.
Born in Philadelphia on July 25, 1844, he graduated from Central High School and immediately went to study drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1862-1866) and anatomy at Jefferson Medical College. His interest in anatomy and athletics helps explain his preoccupation with scientific realism relating to human and animal forms, and is reflected in his famous paintings of rowing, sailing, fishing and boxing, among other activities in which the human body is in motion.
Eakins was among the first generation of American artists who flocked to Paris for artistic training. With his father's support, he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts from 1866 to 1869. There, he was strongly influenced by 17th-century masters, who impressed him with their realism and psychological penetration.
Philadelphian Albert Coombs Barnes (born 2 Jan <http://todayinsci.com/1/1_02.htm#BarnesAlbert> 1872) had purchased twelve acres of property in Merion and built a private house gallery and art school in the 1920s.
There, he assembled one of the world's largest collections of French impressionist and post-impressionist art.
The paintings, sculptures and decorative pieces there were relocated in 2012 to The Barnes Foundation on the Ben Franklin Parkway. This state-of-the-art museum houses an amazing collection of masterworks by Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Rousseau, and Picasso, among other French artists.