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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Birthplace of Old Glory: 1900

Birthplace of Old Glory: 1900

Circa 1900. "Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia." Our second look at Jack the horse. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

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Below is the same view from October of 2013.

Before historic preservation was cool

From Stewart Brand's How Buildings Learn:

"As the nation approached its first centennial in 1875, the search was on for a female hero of the Revolution. Philadelphia had two candidates--Lydia Darragh, an intrepid and effective spy, and Betsy Ross, who sewed American flags and might have sewn the first one. But Darragh's house on Second Street was replaced by a hotel, so that left Ross. A campaign to save her house hustled pennies from the nation's schoolchildren. Darragh was forgotten by history. Betsy Ross entered legend."

The photo with this caption in Brand's book is probably from 1876 or earlier. The Samuel Drake building is there, but the Berger Brothers building is not. The Ross house has either a cedar shake or a slate roof, not the standing seam metal shown here. The ground floor tenant is a tailor shop, and there is the winter skeleton of a tree in front, rather than utility poles.

Coach lamps

Carey & Co. haven't equipped their neighbors Hunter & Dickson and Chas. F. Mitchell with their products. Hmm.

Not really

Not only is there no evidence Betsy Ross had anything to do with the first flag, but existing evidence suggests that because of address changes over the years, this was never her house. A powerful myth, however.

The fire mark is still there

It represented the fire insurance company, the Philadelphia Contributionship, started by Benjamin Franklin in 1752.

Still there?

It sure is:

View Larger Map

Hardware District

It's interesting how businesses of the same type used to self segregate in the cities of the time. Today the modern versions of the products sold on this street would be in a single big box "home improvement" store.

Lots of changes

The house today doesn't look anything like this. Many many renovations over the years it seems.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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