Jan 18, 2023 - News

New historical markers coming to Philadelphia

This blue-and-gold marker honoring William Strong is among thousands honoring Pennsylvania's rich history.

The historical marker for jurist William Strong in Reading. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Philadelphia is adding about a dozen new historical markers to its hundreds already interspersed throughout the city.

Driving the news: The Philadelphia Historical & Museum Commission sifted through 91 applications before deciding on 37 new historical markers for the Commonwealth this year.

Why it matters: The gold-and-blue markers, instantly recognizable along roadsides throughout the state, commemorate places, events and important figures who shaped Pennsylvania's history.

  • They've included esteemed former Gov. Richard Thornburgh, who guided the state through the Three Mile Island crisis, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, recognized as the country's oldest appeals court.

The intrigue: Philadelphia secured the most locations among the state's 18 counties selected for new markers. The announcement came a month after the commission said it was temporarily pausing applications for new historical markers due in part to "ongoing supply chain issues."

  • Public interest in the program continues to grow, with the commission reporting the number of applicants doubled in the last year.

Here's a look at a handful of markers coming to Philly:

Hakim's Bookstore: The West Philadelphia bookstore founded in the 1950s has served as a "center for Black activism" and an education center during the civil rights movement.

  • Yvonne Blake, daughter of original owner Dawud Hakim, told KYM that she was "very proud of this honor" but wished her father was alive to celebrate the recognition.

Edward Lee Morgan: A jazz trumpeter, composer and activist, Morgan was a fixture in hardbop and regarded for his best-selling album "The Sidewinder."

  • He played with the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and collaborated with John Coltrane and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

Hilary Koprowski: For decades, the Polish American virologist and immunologist served as director of Philadelphia's Wistar Institute and pioneered the use of monoclonal antibodies.

  • He also developed vaccines for rabies and polio, earning recognition from the U.S. National Institutes of Health for contributions to the medical community.

Charles Brockden Brown: Known as the "Father of the American novel," Brown was born into a Quaker family and his tales of "madness, social justice and mercantile deceit" inspired fellow gothic writers such as George Lippard and Edgar Allan Poe, according to the PHMC.

  • He referred to himself as a "storytelling moralist," which was evident in published works pushing for women's equality. He also advocated for the abolition of slavery.

John G. Johnson: Johnson practiced law for more than two decades, beginning in the early 1860s, earning the nickname "American's Greatest Lawyer." His prominent portfolio of clients included U.S. Steel, Standard Oil, DuPont and JP Morgan.

  • The personal art collection he donated to the city became a founding collection for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Local 8 Industrial Workers of the World: The Black-led, multiracial union, led by Ben Fletcher, represented dockworkers in the city's port.

  • Powered by Irish Americans and European immigrants, it flexed its muscle fighting for equality, better pay and improved working conditions.

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