On Ben’s Birthday, We Have To Ask

This morning, I asked Harry Kyriakodis, the keeper of Harry K’s Philadelphia encyclopedia, to give me a little something on Benjamin Franklin. After all, it’s the patron saint’s birthday.

In true Harry fashion, he responded in minutes and with “I have written and collected some snippets about Franklin, but haven’t put them together in a good way… But here are just a few of them…” Just a few: he gave me 13 complete encyclopedia entries, including one that includes about 25 individual inventions and discoveries. Among them swim fins and electric cooking (a turkey zapped and then cooked with an “electric bottle” on a picnic on 1749).

Street cleaning, street paving, street lamps…ah, Ben, can we steal a little of your civic energy?

Two years after zapping the turkey, Ben, who had a great interest in advancing medicine, began a campaign to build a hospital. But not just any campaign, for the effort to build Pennsylvania Hospital would be the first, according to Harry, “in which donations are matched by a sponsoring group.”

The matching campaign, Ben, we thank you.

Our sponsoring group is the Knight Foundation. Last spring they pledged us $100,000 if we could raise $100,000 ourselves. Well, we are partway there. But we still need your help. Our work on the Daily, our work to expose, reveal, explore, and seek out the hidden stories and places of Ben’s city depends on that match. Our ability to continue to attract the best writers and photographers depends on that match. Our ability to put on another–even better–Hidden City Festival next year depends on that match.

A little Benny whispered in our ear and said, “make it easy for your readers and supporters and co-conspirators” (he said this, indeed), and so we made THIS PAGE. Click there now. And do it in honor of Ben. May he live in all of us.

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine. Popkin's literary criticism appears in the Wall Street Journal, Public Books, The Kenyon Review, and The Millions. He is writer-in-residence of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.

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