DELOREAN MOMENT: THE FREE LIBRARY OF PHILADELPHIA

Compared to the new Free Library, which sits in the wide open expanse that is Logan Circle, the old Free Library of Philadelphia of 1910 on the 1200 block of Chestnut Street seems a bit ‘stuffy.’ It rests tightly nestled between two adjacent buildings, sharing its space with Hanscom’s Restaurant just next door. Its façade is shielded by an elaborate fire escape and, despite a name boasting freedom, a solitary guard stands alert at the front door. Maybe the Free Library was more of a “look don’t touch” type of venue in those days. Today the Free Library of Philadelphia has a much larger building to house its archives, as well as a website to freely share much of them with the world. Nevertheless, no one can deny the character of the Library’s old home; I wish we could see what the inside looked like. Today, this space is occupied by Bare Feet Shoes, which lies at the base of a towering skyscraper. —-Alex Graziano