Location: Penn’s Landing served as the setting for crucial scenes in George Lippard’s 1844 best selling crime novel The Quaker City; or, The monks of Monk Hall. Today, Penn’s Landing includes waterfront area of East Philadelphia, between Interstate-95 and the Delaware River. It stretches from Vine Street to South Street. Penn’s Landing is approximately 1.6 miles east of City Hall and there is the hub for the Riverlink Ferry directly across from Walnut Street, serving as a connection to the City of Camden.
When William Penn landed in Penn’s Landing along the Delaware in 1682; the city of Philadelphia was born. Interstate-95 was conceived and constructed through Philadelphia from the 1950’s to 1970’s, completely changing the landscape of Penn’s Landing. In 2013, plans were submitted to add a large park to Penn’s Landing. There are no dates in place to begin neither construction nor the expected completion, the plan must first be approved by the city and properly funded.
Significance: Penn’s Landing is an attraction for visitors to the city. From the site, you have a beautiful view of the Delaware River and Camden, the Ben Franklin Bridge, and Center City Philadelphia’s skyline. It is in close proximity to Olde City, the heart of Philadelphia nightlife with unique restaurants, bars, and shopping. Philadelphians gather here to celebrate the New Year.
About the Site: There is a Great Plaza for shows, and ice skating rink, and walking trails. It is easily accessible by foot by using the walking bridges, by public transportation, and by car. Penn’s Landing is open to the public at all times.
Hot Tips: Nineteenth-century historian John Fanning Watson, believed that the landing of Penn in Philadelphia was of equal importance to the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock and should have been similarly recognized. Penn himself had intended to have a tree-lined promenade planted along the area today named for him, but this was prevented due to economics.
George Lippard and his Work:
Born: April 10, 1822 near Yellow Springs, in West Nantmeal Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Died: February 9, 1854 in his home at 1509 Lawrence Street, Philadelphia, of tuberculosis. He was 31.
Educated: Classical Academy in Rhinebeck, New York. No higher education.
Married: May 15, 1847, Rose Newman.
Important works: The Quaker City; or, The monks of Monk Hall (1844), Blanche of Brandywine (1846), Washington and His Generals; or, Legends of the Revolution (1847), Midnight Queen; or Leaves from New York Life (1853), New York: its upper ten and lower million (1854), The life and choice writings of George Lippard (1855), The legends of the American revolution “1776” (1876)
Interesting Bio Fact: Lippard spent some time living on the streets of Philadelphia, working odd jobs and living in abandoned buildings and studios following the death of his father in 1837. Life as a homeless person gave him firsthand knowledge of the effects the Panic of 1837 on the poor, especially in an urban setting. This is why he became and advocate for the poor and a writer for the masses.
Further Reading: Lippard was a close friend of Edgar Allen Poe, and it would be beneficial to read his works. They share similar darkness in theme.
Elsewhere in the Area: Just west of Penn’s Landing is Olde City, a great place to go out to eat and a showcase of classic architecture. South of Penn’s Landing, you can turn west on South Street for small shops and some small eateries. Across the river, using either the bridge or the ferry, there is the famous Camden Waterfront Aquarium.
Alexandra Adams, Temple University