In 1926, Philadelphia hosted the Sesquicentennial International Exposition – which is just a fancier name for Philadelphia’s World Fair – to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence (which is housed at SHAMELESS PLUG the National Archives in Washington, DC). The fair opened on May 31, 1926 and ran through that November. It was plagued with a variety of problems including a very damp forecast – it rained 107 days of the 184 days that it was open! With lackluster attendance, the fair proved to be a financial disaster and it took three years for the city of Philadelphia to pay off the fair debt. Guess they didn’t sell enough funnel cake.
To give you a sense of the fair’s location – it was located in the South Philadelphia area of the city between the Naval Yard and Packer Avenue and between 10th and 23rd Streets. The area known as Marconi Park today, was the pre-entrance to the fair. The then brand new Sesquicentennial Stadium that opened to the public on April 15, 1926 was located on the site of today’s Wells Fargo Center (this shows how long I’ve been gone…when I left Pennsylvania, it was still the First Union Center!)
It’s 1926 and there’s a fair to be built! Perfect timing for a young carpenter like Max Schellhardt! According to my mom, Max built stands for the fair (stadium bleachers or booths/stalls, I’m not exactly sure which!) So, this was where Max worked as a young man.
It was also where he lived. In April 1926, Max lived at 2633 South Rosewood Street – a German carpenter in what was and still is a traditionally Italian neighborhood. But when you have to get to work on time, who wants a long commute?!
I came across this awesome map from PhillyHistory.org and Azavea Commons of the location of the fair overlaid with the streets of Philadelphia as they are today. It provides a unique perspective on the Philadelphia of Max’s youth to the Philadelphia that we all know – especially if you’ve ever spent any time at all down at one of those sports stadiums.
I edited the map to highlight some key landmarks –
The highlighted road that runs vertically down the map is Broad Street. The highlighted road on the lower half of the map that crosses Broad is Pattison Avenue – the intersection being Broad and Pattison, of course. Isn’t there a subway stop there?
The Stadium is where the Wells Fargo Center is today. I’ll let you figure out where the Vet was. And where you had to hang out to get Phillies autographs.
The area at the top of the map that is circled in purple is South Rosewood Street where Max lived. Just south of Rosewood is the pre-entrance area, Liberty Bell Park (now Marconi Park).
Recognize any other landmarks? Let me know!
Mapping the Sesquicentennial from PhillyHistory.org
Photos of the Sesquicentennial from PhillyHistory.org
A Classical, Papier-Mâché Gas Station at the Sesquicentennial from PhillyHistory.org
Family Tree Friday: Census Bureau exhibit at the 1926 U.S. Sesquicentennial Exhibition, Part I from the National Archives (yep, where I work. You might find a couple of posts from me there too)
The Sesquicentennial International Exposition by Martin W. Wilson