Brewerytown

On October 26, 2014 · 0 Comments

Twelve Mile Circle reflects my personal interests including those that transcend geo-oddities such as my fascination with zymurgy and breweriana. Recent examples included Geo-BREWities and More Geo-BREWities that examined breweries referencing geography within their names. I do try to tie these themes back to geography in some manner since that’s the notional objective of 12MC, although sometimes I’m more successful at that than others.

The current effort flipped the script. Rather than breweries named for geography, were there places named for breweries? Once again I turned to my trusty friend, the Geographic Names Information System. There were surprisingly few place called Brewery anything. I noticed minor occurrences with Brewery Gulch, Hill, Creek, Spring, Hollow and the like, plus a few historic properties. The list contained only a single populated place, a neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania named Brewerytown.



Brewerytown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

"Brewerytown runs approximately between the Schuylkill River’s eastern bank and 25th Street, bounded by Cecil B. Moore Avenue to the north and Parrish Street to the south."

The name derived from an earlier industrial past as noted in That’s Why They Call it Brewerytown

Brewers were attracted to the area ponded by the dam at the Fairmount Water Works for the ice they could harvest from the [Schuylkill] river. Then, in vaults carved along its banks, brewers would pack wooden hogsheads of lager beer with ice for six to eight months for the beer to ‘ripen.’ Brewerytown evolved into a neighborhood that accounted for about half the city’s beer production and included some of the largest brewers in the nation, who shipped their beer throughout the world.

PhillyHistory.org added,

By the turn of the century, eleven large breweries had made Brewerytown their home. Immigrants eager to find jobs and to support such industries as malt houses, equipment suppliers, and saloons followed close behind and turned the area into one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods.

What happened? The usual story. Prohibition: "In 1933 prohibition was repealed, but there wasn’t much left of Brewerytown but idle, hulking industrial carcasses with broken windows."

Nonetheless, the current incarnation of Brewerytown showed Signs of revitalization although it still had a ways to go.

… the people in this neighborhood range from cold-cash professionals to college students to families trying to make ends meet. Its proximity to both I-76 and the infamous loop down Kelly Drive makes it hugely desirable for just about everyone–but be warned that when real-estate marketers refer to part of it as "up-and-coming," a lot of the area hasn’t quite, er, come "up" yet.

Two historic properties on the western edge of Brewerytown fascinated me in particular, neither having anything to do with breweries and both about as far apart on the spectrum of culture, social hierarchy and era as imaginable.


Lemon Hill


Lemon Hill Mansion
Lemon Hill Mansion by Gary Reed, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Henry Pratt, a wealthy Philadelphia merchant, constructed a large Federal-style mansion on a 43-acre site along the Schuylkill River in 1800 (map). He named it Lemon Hill for the abundant lemon trees he grew in his private greenhouse located elsewhere on his property. This wasn’t his primary residence either. Pratt used it as a "summer retreat" to escape the confines of the city during the ferociously hot and humid months, as did many of his peers of similar wealth and privilege.

Lemon Hill, now part of Fairmount Park, was licensed by the city to the Colonial Dames of America ("an international society of women members whose direct ancestors held positions of leadership in the Thirteen Colonies.") as their Philadelphia headquarters. In return, the society must preserve the property and make it available to the public in a variety of ways.


John Coltrane House



John Coltrane (1926 – 1967), the pioneering and highly influential postwar Jazz saxophonist, lived at 1511 N 33rd Street (Street View) from 1952 to 1958. That might make it slightly outside of Brewerytown, although close enough for this article.

Those were formative years of his career when he began to establish himself and also started playing with legendary figures such as Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Even after he moved to New York he continued to "use the house as an alternate residence" for the remainder of his life.

The John Coltrane House was named a National Historic Landmark in 1999. Efforts are underway to preserve the property.

Convergence at the End

On October 8, 2014 · 2 Comments

A weird pattern emerged as I researched an article a couple of months ago and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Was it a geo-oddity or simply an oddity? Would it fit within the subject matter of 12MC? Would some readers find it too bizarre? Ultimately I decided I could focus on a tenuous geographic connection and shoehorn the topic into a suitable article.

Consider the following list of people and determine their commonality: Richard Nixon, Malcolm X, Andy Warhol, Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and Joey Ramone. Think about it for a moment if you’d like or continue reading and let the answer reveal itself. Being a native New Yorker might be helpful.

The answer wasn’t a list of attendees from the world’s strangest cocktail party. It was something more permanent. Would it help if I mentioned that I was working on Presidential Death Locations when I encountered the list?

They all died at the same hospital.


NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital


Joey Ramone, Godfather of Punk Rock
Joey Ramone, Godfather of Punk Rock by Tony Fischer, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The topic was morbid enough that I considered saving it for Halloween. However I tried something like that last year and apparently I enjoyed the resulting article a lot more than the Twelve Mile Circle audience. It didn’t receive much attention and it fell pretty flat, just another example demonstrating my inability to predict audience reactions.

Indeed, a big list of famous people all died at the same hospital in New York City (map). I found that fascinating. Maybe some of you did too, maybe the rest of you did not.

I discovered two more salient points as I continued with my research. First, Wikipedia produced some rather remarkable lists when I searched it for "notable hospital deaths." Admittedly, I stole liberally from Wikipedia because nobody had yet created a definitive collection of celebrity deaths sorted by hospital (and here I though everything was available on the Intertubes). Second, very few hospitals had a meaningful collection of notable deaths. Clusters were confined to places where famous people of various stripes congregated during their lifetimes, limited primarily to New York City and the greater Los Angeles area. That made sense.


Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City, New York


Wendell Wilkie campaigns in Mass.
Wendell Wilkie campaigns in Mass. by Boston Public Library, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Lenox Hill Hospital (map), a teaching hospital for various universities and also in Manhattan, began in the 19th Century as the German Dispensary. The name changed to Lenox Hill during the First World War when it was fashionable to whitewash every possible remote connection to Germany. Lenox Hill didn’t have quite the eclectic pedigree of notable deaths as displayed by NewYork–Presbyterian although it still had a pretty impressive spread including Wendell Willkie, Ed Sullivan, Alvin Ailey, Alger Hiss and Nipsey Russell (politician, showman, dancer, spy and comedian).


Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Burbank, California


Walt Disney Statue
Walt Disney statue at Disney World. My own photo.

Quite predictably, celebrity deaths at hospitals in the Los Angeles metropolitan area tended to skew towards show business personalities. That still provided a wide spectrum. Case in point, if one were to consider a fictional dinner party in the afterlife, imagine a guest list including Walt Disney, Corey Haim, John Ritter, and Ronnie James Dio. They all passed away at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank (map). The location was particularly convenient for Walt Disney as he sought treatment for lung cancer. The hospital was directly across the street from Walt Disney Studios.

John Ritter had the added distinction of being born at the hospital and passing away at the same place 54 years later. I imagined the list of celebrities who arrived into this world and departed for the great beyond at the same location must have been rather short. That’s your 12MC trivia for the day.


Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California


003la
003la by Mike Atherton, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Oddly enough, Twelve Mile Circle featured Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (map) in a previous article, Comedy Duos, that focused on the intersection of two streets, Burns and Allen. As I noted at the time, "The intersection’s full name was N George Burns Road and Gracie Allen Drive. Burns and Allen were major benefactors of the hospital."

Cedars-Sinai was dubbed "Hollywood’s Glamour Hospital" by the Hollywood Reporter. Its list of celebrity patients stretched for pages and naturally some of them never recovered. Groucho Marx, Andy Kaufman, Eazy-E, Frank Sinatra, and Ernest Borgnine all spent their final moments there.

Skewed Perspective

On September 24, 2014 · 10 Comments

There was a time in the early days of Twelve Mile Circle when I used to devote entire articles to differences in distances that didn’t seem plausible, although of course the actual measurements didn’t lie. For example, sticking with the Twelve theme, the twelfth article I ever posted on 12MC all the way back in November 2007 dealt with a whole list of state capitals located closer to southwestern Virginia than to its own capital in Richmond. I loved those little counterintuitive notions although I haven’t posted any in a long time probably because they’re kind-of mindless.

I recalled some of my Riverboat Adventures the other day while speaking with some friends and remarked how crazy-long it took to drive across the entire length of Tennessee. We drove through only two states on the way back, Tennessee and Virginia, and it took something like thirteen hours. That prompted me to hit the maps and resurrect the long-neglected genre.

Driving from Memphis


Mud Island
Memphis. My own photo.

The Tennessee leg of our return followed Interstate highways from Memphis to Bristol, specifically I-40 and I-81. I used one of my favorite mapping tools to create a circle around Memphis that extended to Bristol. That’s where the fun began. Memphis was closer to Oklahoma City, Dallas, New Orleans or Kansas City than it was to Bristol. It was even closer to Davenport, Iowa!

Two could play at that game so I created a similar circle around Bristol extending to Memphis. Bristol was closer to Detroit and Jacksonville than it was to Memphis, and about the same distance to Chicago or Philadelphia.


Back in Virginia


Casbah, Algiers
Casbah, Algiers by Nick Brooks, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license

I then drew some latitudes, returning my focus to the Commonwealth of Virginia. I noticed that there were parts of Africa farther north than parts of Virginia. I let that rattle around in by brain for awhile. Sure the overlap wasn’t much although definitely factual. Algiers and Tunis on the African continent were farther north than Danville and Suffolk in Virginia.


Dueling Portlands


Keep Portland Weird
Keep Portland Weird by Christopher Porter, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license

Again with the latitudes, I compared Portland, Oregon with Portland, Maine. It reminded me of a quote in a guest post that Marc Alifanz contributed to 12MC in March 2011, Geo-Oddities of Portland, Oregon:

Portland was originally founded by Asa Lovejoy from Boston, Massachusetts and Francis W. Pettygrove of Portland, Maine. Each wanted to name the new town after their place of origin. They flipped a coin, and Portland won. It’s probably a good thing it worked out that way, because two Bostons of very large size would have created more confusion than big Portland, OR and littler Portland, ME do now.

That was an interesting aside, although referring back to the latitudes, Portland in Oregon is actually farther north than Portland in Maine. That seemed odd because Maine bordered Canada and Oregon had an entire state (Washington) between it and Canada. Yet, that’s what the line revealed.

And speaking of Portland, Maine, I drew another circle and examined the results. Portland Maine was closer to Caracas, Venezuela than to Portland, Oregon.


A Canadian Example


old cayenne 6
old cayenne 6 by Nicholas Laughlin, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license

All of the results seemed astonishing to me although I recognized that a lot of this had to do with my very specific geographic perspective. I doubt the measurements and observations had anywhere near the same impact for people living elsewhere. So I tried an example in Canada. St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador was closer to: Bratislava Slovakia; Murmansk, Russia; Cayenne, French Guiana; or anywhere in Western Sahara as it turned out than it was to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Similar observations could be made about the distance between Vladivostok and Moscow, Russia, I supposed. Ditto for Sydney and Perth, Australia. Have fun and let me know the most counterintuitive observation you discover.

Purpose
12 Mile Circle:
An Appreciation of Unusual Places
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