200 Years. 200 Stories. Story 31: “Logan Square Way Back When ”

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photo of the Academy of Natural Sciences in the late 19th Century
This is how the Academy of Natural Sciences appeared soon after it opened its doors at its Logan Square location in 1876. The building, which the Academy still calls home, faces Race Street and Logan Square (right), while 19th Street borders it on the left. The Benjamin Franklin Parkway was not built until decades after this photo was taken. Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives Coll. 49.

Logan Square Way Back When

If you’ve visited the Academy, you’re probably familiar with our location on Logan Square in the heart of Philadelphia’s historic museum district. But if you had visited the area with four-year-old Witmer Stone in 1870, you would have found something entirely different.

Though the Academy was founded in 1812, we did not move to our current location until 1876. Small children in dense Philadelphia neighborhoods had few chances to learn about the natural world, yet they flocked to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to see a pair of deer that resided behind a high iron fence on Logan Square. The deer were the first wild animals that Stone saw! This young observer, who got his start just beyond the doors of the Academy’s future home, became a prominent scientist who served as a curator, director, and vice president of the Academy.

What does Logan Square look like now? Find out next time you visit the museum on 19th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway!

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