From the Liberty Bell to Philly cheesesteaks (frizzled beef, sautéed onions, and Cheez Whiz on an Amoroso’s Baking Company roll), from immigrant communities to the 37-foot-tall, 27-ton statue of William Penn atop City Hall, the in-progress Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia aims to encompass the City of Brotherly Love on the Internet now and in print by 2015.
“The encyclopedia project promises to realize a long-desired but elusive goal of making the region’s story greater than the sum of its parts,” says coeditor Howard Gillette. Coeditor Charlene Mires adds: “We have the opportunity to reinvent the encyclopedia form to take full advantage of new media.” The encyclopedia’s growing website acts as a gateway to other resources such as the city archives, and eventually it will include teaching materials and information for tour guides.
Philly aficionados have offered hundreds of suggestions for the project, housed at the Rutgers University-Camden’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities. Local organizations are cooperating, and regular public programs invite broad participation. Events this fall will delve into Philadelphia’s 19th-century arts reputation as the “Athens of America,” the city’s industrial heritage, and its renown for political scandal.
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