Truck Into The Fire

April 4, 2014 | by Hidden City Staff


Ed. Note: We’ve been hearing bits and pieces about the Philly History Truck since last fall, but we were finally able to link up with its driver, Erin Bernard. Erin’s concept of creative community building by telling firsthand neighborhood stories struck our fancy and we think will strike yours too. As such, we’re pleased that we’ll occasionally share some of those stories, beginning next week.

Memory Mapping block party with the Philly History Truck

Memory Mapping block party with the Philly History Truck

The Philadelphia Public History Truck. Let’s call it Philly History Truck. What is it, exactly?


Neighbors and artists in East Kensington will find out starting tonight, at the First Friday opening of Manufacturing Fire. The exhibition, at Little Berlin in the Viking Mill, marks the debut (stationary) output of the (traveling) History Truck concept: meet neighbors, share stories, create exhibit, repeat.

Manufacturing Fire employs this process by exploring the many warehouse fires East Kensington has suffered from the mid-19th Century through Buck Hosiery, as well as fire prevention from the same period. These are juxtaposed with oral memories of the neighborhood, a profile of its activists, and archival materials from Temple University Special Collections Research Center and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Philly History Truck’s driver, or curator, Erin Bernard, studied history at Temple and envisions the truck as a pop-up museum. Manufacturing Fire begins this evening and runs every Saturday through April; in essence, this exhibition poses the truck’s first test as pop-up museum. Sort of.

While the truck itself is not part of the show opening this evening, it was the home of the public events that led to the show, and it will be a traveling museum taking a smaller version of the show on the road after it concludes at Little Berlin.

But really, to know the Philly History Truck best is to see Manufacturing Fire. It opens tonight at Little Berlin, 2430 Coral Street (a block down from Philadelphia Brewing Company in East Kensington), and runs every Saturday there through April 26th. For more info, visit the Philly History Truck’s web site HERE.


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