Urban Renewal Scavenger Hunt

The Urban Renewal Scavenger Hunt was very interesting. During the scavenger hunt, I was able to learn how much Temple has evolved as a campus. It gave me a deeper understanding of the history of the university and how it was directly affected by Urban Renewal. I was able to find several of the building including Paley Library and Riter Hall, but several of the sites were not there anymore. One of the main sites that had been demolished was Barton Hall which was taken down fairly recently in order to build the new library. This showed me how Temple’s identity is still changing to this day. Many of the sites were still in tact and easy to find, which was a nice part of this assignment. Since my time began at Temple, in August, I have noticed that this university has a particularly strong relationship with the surrounding communities. From what I have seen from other universities, many of them do not interact with the surrounding communities, if they have any at all. Many of my friends went to state universities in upstate New York where the communities there are almost negligent in comparison to the Philadelphia community. This is one of the things I enjoy most about Temple. You feel like a part of the Philadelphia community as a whole. The history of Urban Renewal is filled with controversy, especially in Philadelphia, but for Temple University it appears to have helped the school develop into a major university.

Wanamaker’s Building

For this assignment I chose to list the Macy’s in Center City. I’m from New York so I had a rough estimate of how big a department store would be in a major city, but the size of the main entrance only was impressive. As soon as I walked in, I noticed the huge organ that loomed over the entrance. After further research on the Macy’s website, I found out that the organ is the largest playable instrument in the world. This extravagant instrument demonstrates the atmosphere of the whole store. The department store felt luxurious in every sense, and I can not help but wonder how people in the early 20th century felt when they walked around this magnificent store. In the entrance there was also a large statue of an eagle in the middle of the room. Everything seemed to be gilded with gold continuing the expensive atmosphere that radiated throughout the whole store. The rest of the store was similar to most department stores, except on a much larger scale. The store also had a Starbuck’s and a barber shop in the building which I have never seen in a department store before. If this department store is anything like the Wanamaker’s almost a hundred years ago, than the average person could have spent a whole day there shopping and keeping themselves  entertained in other ways. An experience that I had must have been very luxurious to the first customers there.

Knights of Labor

During the late 19th century, the treatment of workers in the United States became the center of heated debate. Many saw the increase in industrialization as a negative impact on the lives of the typical American, who could be working hours that were unregulated for a wage that would not be able to feed their families. This led many to try and find a solution to this new issue. Workers began to organize themselves to try and prevent what today would be considered unworkable conditions. One of the most prominent labor organizations was the Knights of Labor, which was founded in Philadelphia. This organization was founded by Uriah Stevens in 1869 and eventually became one of the largest labor organizations in the United States. This organization rejected socialism and anarchism and wanted to promote a culture where the working man is respected more. When the Knights of Labor were led by Uriah Stevens, they operated in secret to prevent employers for targeting members of the organization. This makes it incredibly difficult for historians to locate areas where the Knights of Labor operated. After Stevens the leadership of the organization was passed to Terrence Powderly. Powderly did not support organized strikes, but this did not stop members from organizing in Chicago creating the Haymarket Riot, which resulted in one person killed and seven others injured. After this Americans began to distrust unions which led to the Knights of Labor’s rapid decline after this event. The impact of the Knights of Labor cannot be questioned however. They fought to end child labor and helped workers achieve an 8-hour workday, due to their secrecy however there are no known historic sites in Philadelphia.

Peale Museum Exhibit

Saturday I visited the Peale’s Museum exhibition. In the exhibition were many of the paintings and preserved animals that Peale displayed in his museum during the 1800’s. Many of these pieces that were displayed in his museum did not revolve around a central theme like they do now, such as the Natural History Museum in New York only displaying pieces related to natural history. Some of the interesting pieces in the exhibit were letters between Thomas Jefferson and Peale about the museum and life in general. Thomas Jefferson inspired Peale to become a gentleman farmer when he retired. Other pieces in the exhibit include his silhouettes of members of his family who were married. He made the silhouettes as a gift for their marriage. This exhibition relates to our coursework because what was displayed in this exhibition was picked carefully, much like how Peale picked what was displayed in his museum to push a patriotic sentiment in the museum attendees. It is important that we pay attention to what parts of history are being presented in museum. History can shape many peoples political views and it is important that the public recognize that and use it to build a better society that is able to learn from its past. The exhibit is able to present what Peale was trying to accomplish with his museum very well. They mention how it was important for him to be able to profit off the museum in order for him to have a nice lifestyle and to provide well for his children. This exhibit relates well to our readings on public culture and how it affects us in everyday life. It was a very interesting exhibit that I am happy I was able to see.

Statement of Purpose

Hi. My name is Liam Itgen and this is my first year at Temple University. My major is Political Science, but that is subject to change as I continue my college career. I went to South Side High School in Rockville Centre, New York. While I was there, I was active in several activities outside of school including the Wind Ensemble, Model United Nations and the Military History Club. History has always been a big interest of mine, especially Renaissance Europe during the Protestant Reformation, but I also listen to a lot of music with my favorite genre of music being hip hop. Obviously being a Political Science major I thoroughly enjoy politics. I am specifically interested in the rising right-wing nationalism that has been growing throughout the world. This is a topic that I am very interested and concerned about because there are many similarities between the rising nationalism now and the nationalism during the early 20th century that led to fascist regimes like Nazi Germany. I hope to be able to make a positive impact on the United States helping to establish a more progressive and tolerant society. In the future I would like to become a political activist and possibly run for political office on the local or national level.