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EXCERPT FROM

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER
JUNE, 1992:

Tree-lined Delancey Street [in Philadelphia] is a favorite of tourists. Brick sidewalks and walkways, black-painted doors and shutters against brick facades, antique fire marks (symbols indicating membership in the earliest fire insurance companies) mounted over front doors. Also, jutting from second-story windows, many busybodies - a term that requires an explanation.

A busybody is a uniquely Philadelphia gadget, and, like so many other things in this town, is credited to Ben Franklin. Two or three small mirrors are arranged at just-so angles in an iron frame and attached outside an upstairs front window. Thus, without being observed, the homeowner may look down upon whosoever is knocking at his front door. Franklin (the worldly gentleman) is said to have discovered the device when he was in Europe.

EXCERPT FROM
WALKING TOURS OF HISTORIC PHILADELPHIA
By John Marion

Camac Street in the area between Spruce and Pine has all the charm of Clinton Street, except that the houses are smaller and on a more intimate scale. The row on the west side of the street has a beautiful communal garden behind it. We are still on Panama and have crossed Camac and found Iseminger Street (like Fawn Street, one block long here). When gas lamps lighted the area - up until the 1950s - this street was one of the most photographed in America and pictures of it were used in magazine stories and advertisements.

The houses are three story - "Father, Son and Holy Ghost - and each has its own firemark and "busybody". A busybody is an appurtenance peculiar to Philadelphia. It consists of three mirrors on an iron rod, so placed that the viewer on the second floor of a townhouse can see the visitor on the doorstep reflected in the mirror. The gardens are tiny - no more than a patio at times - but the charm of Europe or a vanished America has been caught, held and nurtured here.

EXCERPT FROM
PHILADELPHIA WITH CHILDREN
by Elizabeth S. Gephart

Elfreth's Alley and Museum
2nd Street between Arch and Race Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 574-0560

Description: Oldest continuously occupied street in America. Cobblestones and "busybodies" (mirrors by the second-floor windows for checking your neighbor's activities) are just a few of the quaint features. Number 126 is the Elfreth's Alley Museum,please call for hours. The other houses are occupied, but they are open to the public once a year, on the first weekend in June, please call for hours. Scavenger hunts for children are available at the museum.

To read a news story about Busybodies, click here.>>

To read some interesting facts about Ben Franklin, click here.>>




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