Some of the public and philanthropic institutions for which Philadelphia is distinguished have buildings which are an ornament to the city. Of these we shall speak in connection with the institutions themselves. One of the oldest of these is the Pennsylvania Hospital. It was founded in 1750 by the exertions of Dr. Franklin and Dr. Bond. The buildings and grounds occupy the entire square, between Spruce and Pine, Eight and Ninth Streets. The front is on Pine Street. The east wing was erected in 1756, the west wing in 1796, and the central building in 1804. In the beautiful area in front of the building is a colossal bronzed statue of William Penn. In the rear, fronting on Spruce Street, is a small building containing West's celebrated picture of Christ Healing the Sick, presented by the painter to this hospital. The funds of this institution, derived from individual benefactions and public endowments, are ample; and its spacious buildings furnish accommodations for indigent patients as well as others. A branch of this hospital is the Insane Asylum, situated about 2 miles W. of the Schuylkill, which has spacious buildings, and is enclosed in beautiful grounds containing about 40 acres. The United States Marine Hospital, situated on the Schuylkill, below Cedar Street, is an institution provided for invalid seamen and officers disabled from the United States service. It has an elegant and extensive edifice, built of white marble, consisting of a centre building of 146 feet in front, and 175 feet deep, and 2 wings; the whole presenting a front of 386 feet. The front of the centre building is embellished with a fine Doric portico of 8 columns. The whole building can receive about 400 residents. The Almshouse, designed for the poor of the city and the adjoining districts, is situated on the western bank of the Schuylkill, opposite Cedar Street, and furnishes from its windows a fine view of the city and surrounding country. The edifice, in the form of a parallelogram, covers and encloses an area of 10 acres; and the front on the Schuylkill, with its portico of 8 columns, 30 feet high, presents an imposing appearance. The Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb has extensive buildings on the corner of Pine and Broad Streets. The Pennsylvania Institution for the Blind is situated on Race Street, near Schuylkill Third Street. The main edifice occupies a lot of 247 feet on Race Street, and 220 feet on Third Street, having beautifully decorated ground in the front and rear. There are many other charitable and humane institutions in Philadelphia, which are less extensive, but very important in their place. Few cities in the world are better supplied, in proportion to their magnitude, with the means of alleviating human want and suffering.
Among the literary institutions, one of the oldest and most respectable is the university of Pennsylvania. It comprises three departments, the academical, the collegiate, and the medical. The medical school connected with this university is the oldest and largest in the Union, having between 400 and 500 students. The university buildings are situated upon Ninth Street, between Market and Chestnut, and consist of two handsome edifices, 112 feet by 85, surrounded by open grounds, and enclosed in front by an iron railing. Jefferson Medical College, founded in 1825, has ample buildings on Tenth Street, between Chestnut and Walnut. The Pennsylvania Medical College is located on Filbert Street, above Twelfth. It was founded in 1839. Philadelphia is distinguished above all other cities in the country as the emporium of medical science and instruction.
Among the literary institutions of Philadelphia, the Girard College for Orphans holds a distinguished place. It was founded by the late Stephen Girard, who died in 1831, and bequeathed a large amount of his real and personal estate in trust to the "mayor, aldermen, and citizens of Philadelphia," for the establishment of an institution for the support and education of "poor male white orphan children," belonging either to that city, or to the state of Pennsylvania, or to the cities of New York and New Orleans, in the order of preference here observed, until the number so provided for should be full. Of the property bequeathed, $2,000,000, and more if necessary, were to be expended "in erecting a permanent college, with suitable outbuildings, sufficiently spacious for the residence and accommodation of at least 300 scholars, with the requisite teachers," &c., "the said college to be constructed with the most durable materials, and in the most permanent manner, avoiding needless ornament," &c. The will contained specific directions with regard to the structure and dimensions of the college edifice, and also the devise of a lot of land of 45 acres, on the ridge road in the N.E. part of the district of Spring Garden, as a site for its location. The buildings which have been erected are five in number, of which the centre building is the grand college edifice, and the two others upon each side are designed for the residences of the pupils and their instructors. The college edifice is one of the most superb buildings in the country. Its length is 218 feet, its width 160 feet, and its height 90 feet. It is surrounded by 34 columns of the Corinthian order, 55 feet high, including the capital and base, and 6 feet in diameter, standing 15 feet distant from the body of the building. These columns stand upon bases 3 feet high and 9 feet in diameter, and are crowned with gorgeous Corinthian capitals, upon which rests a full entablature. The entrances are at each end of the building, through lofty doors, decorated with massive architraves and sculptured cornices. The interior, excepting the portions required for the vestibules and stairs, is divided into four spacious rooms in each of the two stories, which are used for the purposes of giving instruction to the different classes of the pupils. No wood is used in the construction of this edifice, excepting for the doors. The other four buildings are each 125 feet long, by 52 feet wide, and two stories high, above their basements. The most eastern, including four distinct houses, is the one occupied by the families of the professors. The orphans are received into the college at any age between 6 and 10 years, and they may continue, if it is deemed desirable, until they are 18 years of age. When they leave, they are to be apprenticed by the city authorities to some useful trade or business. The institution is in full operation, with above 300 pupils in 1852. The amount of appropriations for defraying the current expenses of the institution for the year 1851 was $62,900. Of this sum $30,500 was for the clothing and subsistence of the pupils.
A singular restriction in the will of Mr. Girard, in regard to the clergy, is in these words: "I enjoin and require that no ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister, of any sect whatsoever, shall ever hold or exercise any station or duty whatever in the said college; nor shall any such person ever be admitted for any purpose, or as a visitor, within the premises appropriated to the purposes of the said college. In making this restriction, I do not mean to cast any reflection upon any sect or person whatsoever; but as there is such a multitude of sects, and such a diversity of opinion amongst them, I desire to keep the tender minds of the orphans, who are to derive advantage from this bequest, free from the excitement which clashing doctrines and sectarian controversy are so apt to produce. My desire is, that all the instructors and teachers in the college shall take pains to [instill] into the minds of the scholars the purest principles of morality; so that, on their entrance into active life, they may, from inclination and habit, evince benevolence towards their fellow-creatures, and a love of truth, sobriety, and industry, adopting at the same time such religious tenets as their matured reason may enable them to prefer." This restriction of Mr. Girard, as explained by himself, and taken in connection with his requisition to secure the inculcation of the purest principles of morality in the minds of the scholars, has justly been construed as not only not prohibiting, but rather rendering obligatory, the use of the Bible, and other means of general religious instruction and training in the school. In the rules for the government of the college, adopted by the board of directors, it is made the duty of the president "to conduct the family worship morning and evening, which shall consist of singing a hymn, reading a portion of Scripture, and prayer. He shall also be responsible for the performance of public religious services in the college on the forenoon and afternoon of every Sunday. These services shall consist of singing hymns, prayers, reading the Scriptures, and moral and religious discourses. The president is permitted to invite any member of the board of directors, or other competent layman approved by the board, to take his place, or assist him in the public worship. Prayers and hymns, or psalms, shall be prepared or selected by the president, with the approbation of the directors, which shall be framed so as to form a full and appropriate service, without sectarianism, but calculated to awaken or preserve true devotion."
The public schools of Philadelphia are organized upon a comprehensive and efficient system. By a law of the state passed in 1818, the city and county of Philadelphia was constituted a separate school district, in order that the benefits of one consistent scheme, adapted in the best manner to the circumstances and wants of such a population, might be secured. The schools, most of which, of course, are in the city, and incorporated districts, are divided into eleven sections. At the head stands a high school, and a model school. The next in rank are the grammar schools; then the secondary; and last, the primary schools. The high school is among the best institutions of the kind in the country. It provides instruction in the ancient and modern languages; in theoretical and practical mathematics; in natural history, natural philosophy, and chemistry; in mental, moral, and political science; and in writing, drawing, &c., and is designed to serve the highest ends of popular education. It is under the tuition of a principal and 10 professors. In all the other schools about 500 teachers are employed, four fifths of whom are females; and the aggregate of the pupils, who are between the ages of 5 and 15, cannot be less than 50,000, embracing a very large proportion of all the children of this age in the city. The average annual expense of maintaining the public schools is not far from $200,000. The school houses are substantial buildings, generally 3 stories high, and capable of accommodating from 600 to 1000 scholars each.
There are several valuable libraries and literary and scientific associations in Philadelphia, which owe their origin to the enlightened, inventive, and practical philanthropy of Dr. Franklin. One of these is the Philadelphia Library, founded in 1731, to which, in 1792, the valuable private library of Dr. Logan was added. This library now contains over 60,000 volumes. The building, erected in 1791, is on South Fifth Street, fronting upon the E. side of Independence Square. The American Philosophical Society, the oldest of the scientific associations in the United States, was founded principally through the exertions of Dr. Franklin, in 1742. Its hall, erected in 1786, is on South Fifth Street, below Chestnut. It has a rare and valuable library of 20,000 volumes, and a cabinet of minerals, fossils, and antiquities. The published Transactions of this society amount to several volumes. The Academy of Natural Sciences, incorporated in 1817, has a new and splendid hall in Broad Street, between Chestnut and Walnut. Its library contains about 12,000 volumes. Its cabinet, containing every variety of specimens in Natural History, is perhaps the best in the United States. The collection of birds is said to be the largest in the world, containing about 25,000 specimens. The Athenaeum has erected a beautiful structure on Sixth Street, below Walnut, 50 feet front by 125 in depth. It is an excellent specimen of the Italian style of architecture, treated with spirit and taste. The library contains about 10,000 volumes; to which, as well as to the reading room, strangers are freely admitted. Among the curiosities of literature in these rooms is a collection of pamphlets, bound in 148 volumes, which belonged to Dr. Franklin, some of them containing his marginal notes and remarks ; and also a regular series of the Journal de Paris, bound in volumes, continued during the whole eventful period of the French revolution. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, founded in 1825, occupies rooms in the 3d story of the Athenaeum building. It has a library of nearly 2000 volumes. The Mercantile Library, on the corner of Fifth and Library Streets, has a library of over 12,000 volumes, founded in 1822, for the objects indicated by its name. There is also the Apprentices' Library, of about the same number of volumes, on the corner of Fifth and Arch Streets, open to youth of both sexes. The Franklin Institute, formed about 1830, for the promotion of the mechanic arts, has a library of between 4000 and 5000 volumes, situated on Seventh Street, below Market. Other institutions for the diffusion of knowledge, in a more local and limited sphere, likewise exist.
There are in Philadelphia about 160 churches of different denominations — Presbyterian, 25; Episcopal, 27; Methodist, 28; Baptist, 16; Reformed Presbyterian, 4; Associate Presbyterian 4; Associate Reformed, 2; German Reformed, 3; Lutheran, 5; Independent, 2; Dutch Reformed, 2; Roman Catholic, 12; Friends, 7; Jewish Synagogues, 3; Mariners, 2; Universalist, 2; Unitarian, 1; New Jerusalem, 1; Moravian, 1; Disciples of Christ, 1; and 12 of various denominations for colored persons. Only a few of the church edifices make pretensions to architectural beauty. Very many of them are without towers or steeples to distinguish them from the general mass of buildings. St. Stephen's Church, (Episcopal,) situated on Tenth Street, is a fine specimen of Gothic architecture, 102 feet long and 50 feet wide, with two octagonal towers 86 feet high. Christ Church, built in 1691, and enlarged in 1810, is the oldest church edifice in the city. It is situated on Second Street. It has a spire 196 feet high, erected in 1753, in which is a chime of bells. St. John's Church, (Roman Catholic,) situated on Thirteenth Street, below Market, is an elegant Gothic structure, with square towers on each of its front corners. The First Presbyterian Church, fronting on the S. side of Washington Square, is the handsomest church of this denomination. It is in the Grecian style of architecture, after the model of a temple on the Ilissus, having a portico of six Ionic columns in front. The Fifth Presbyterian Church, on Arch Street, is also distinguished for the beauty of its architecture. There are also other church edifices which are neat and handsome structures.
The United States Mint in Philadelphia was founded in 1790, and first occupied the building where the Apprentices' Library now is. In 1830 it was removed to the fine building which it now occupies, on Chestnut Street, below Broad Street. This edifice is of white marble, 123 feet long, having a portico of 6 columns, and 60 feet in length in the centre of its front, on Chestnut Street, and a similar one on the opposite side, which looks out upon Penn Square. Visitors are admitted to witness the interesting processes of assaying and coining the precious metals, on the forenoon of every day, upon application to the proper officers. The United States navy yard is located in the S. E. quarter of the city, fronting on the Delaware. The enclosure contains about 12 acres. Some of the largest vessels for the U. S. service have been built here. The Eastern Penitentiary, in the N. W. section of the city, not far distant from the Girard College, is one of the most imposing structures. It occupies a square of 10 acres, which is enclosed by a wall 30 feet high, upon the angles of which, and at the entrance, watch towers are erected, from which all parts of the enclosure can be observed. In the middle of this area is an octagonal tower, from which the ranges of cells extend on every side like radii, and from which the passages leading to them can all be 'Inspected by a sentinel posted at the centre. Each cell opens in the rear into a little yard, 18 feet by 8, surrounded by a wall 12 feet high. The discipline of this penitentiary is that of solitary confinement, each prisoner being kept in his separate cell and yard both day and night.
There are several theatres in the city, of which the largest are the Chestnut Street Theatre, the Walnut Street Theatre, and the Arch Street Theatre. Peale's Museum, founded by Charles Wilson Peale, in 1784, occupies the upper story of an edifice on the corner of Ninth and George Streets, 238 feet long and 70 feet wide. This is one of the most distinguished institutions of the kind in the country.