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Betsy Ross House: 1900

Betsy Ross House: 1900

Circa 1900. "Betsy Ross house, Philadelphia. Birthplace of Old Glory." Happy Flag Day from Shorpy! Detroit Publishing Co. glass negative. View full size.


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Below is the same view from October of 2013.

Ah, memories.

When I was a teenager, I dropped the f-bomb in my father's presence in this house. (I hit my head going down the basement stairs on the tour)

Much the same

This view is much the same as I remember it from when I was stationed in Philadelphia with the Navy in 1957. The cobblestone streets were just one many new sights and experiences for someone from the Appalachian south. We rode streetcars, subways and elevated trains all over the city. This was before pizza, hoagies, hot sausage and Philly cheese steak sandwiches came to our part of the world. The cardboard-pizzas and sandwiches of the various chains do not come anywhere near the originals.

In the neighborhood

Carey Bros. coachworks is gone, now the space it occupied is a sort of strange courtyard to the Betsy Ross House. As a native Philadelphian, I've never been inside the house. The admission seemed steep, and it always seems a bit of an apocryphal tale that she sewed the first flag or invented the 5 pointed star, though the "free Quaker" meeting house she went to is just up the street.

But for people who want the old style vibe, over across Arch Street and down on the other side of third street, there's the wonderful old-world Humphrey's Flag shop. I guess they got started there because it's close to Betsy Ross's house? In front of their shop and the one one the corner is a wonderful bit of sidewalk paved with purple and green glass lozenges, each around 1½ inches wide. But careful, they are slippery in the rain!

Hame Chain

At first I thought the word "hame" was a graphic artifact. Closer inspection indicated otherwise. Googling hame reveals it to be a harness part -- obviously commonly used at that time.


When can we tar and feather those that changed it ?


Indeed that is a very nice set of harness, but the horses must have been a pretty calm pair since there are no "blinders" on the bridle. All of the draft horses I ever drove had large blinders, but then traffic was a lot busier and noiser in 1945 I suppose.

[Now you can say you know Jack. - Dave]

Sad and Lonely

You would think a structure that historically significant would have warranted restoring the adjoining structures also,if nothing else to give the little house some historical context. Instead it's just stuck out there all by itself. You could drive by it and never notice it.

Remotely familiar, but....

The door has moved, the coal chute has been painted to stand out, and the roof is now shingled. What's really changed are the surroundings.

Also it now looks like a residential house, where originally it would have had a business on the ground floor and rooms above.

This Old House

That's a heck of a restoration...though I do sort of prefer the ramshackle, "oh , this just happens to be the Betsy Ross house" vibe of its 1900 state.

Yesterday and today

Having seen the Betsy Ross house several times since moving to the Philadelphia area, I find this 1900s house doesn't even look remotely familiar. Gotta wonder what it really looked like!

[Not remotely similar? Maybe it's time for another look. - Dave]

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Ya gotta love ...

the custom harness on the horse. Very stylish.

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