Preface ~ History of Philadelphia

The gradual changes which time makes, in men and things are scarcely perceptible, to those who are present, and observe them, as they take place. It is he only, who has been many years absent, and returns, that perceives the extent of these changes. The parent, who is constantly with his children, sees them gradually pass, from infancy to childhood, from childhood to youth, and from youth to manhood, without being struck with these changes; but let the same parent, leave his little, flock, in their tender years, and return not, till some one of his family, has become engaged in the active scenes of life, and he will scarcely credit his eyes, or recognize in them, the little prattling things he left, and whose images, he has ever cherished, in his inmost heart. A strange feeling will come over him a feeling of astonishment, compounded with pride and admiration.

So, when one leaves a city or town, and returns after many years, expecting to find, old familiar things, and well-known faces to welcome him, he sees nothing, but the marks of time, and the progress of improvement! How sad, at first, are the feelings which overpower him: He finds himself a stranger, where he thought to have been welcomed, as a friend; He seeks a familiar house, it is gone! He endeavors to find the well-remembered playground, or favorite shady walk it is nowhere to be seen, but where it was, now stand blocks of elegant dwelling houses, or perhaps, splendid public buildings. The hallowed spot is no more. The old oak tree has not been spared; that venerable tree, which had long resisted the winds and storms and stood in its pride, has fallen, before the mighty march of improvement! It has gone, and where it once spread out its umbrageous arms, has been reared, an object of less noble aspect.

The publisher of this little volume, formerly resided in this city, when Ninth Street was considered, ''quite out of town.'' He left it and returned again, after an absence, of nearly fifty years. It may easily be supposed, that the alterations and improvements here that were made during that time, and the general change which had taken place, must have impressed him forcibly, on his return. He no doubt, saw these changes, with more vividness than would have done, had he remain here, the whole time.

He has occupied some of his leisure hours, (with the aid of a few friends) in noting them.

It Infill be perceived, that his attention, has not been confined, (exclusively) to changes, but to improvements, of a Moral, Religious, and Philanthropic character: And he will feel satisfied, if his labors shall afford his readers, the same degree of gratification, that he feels, in contrasting the present condition of many things, with the actual appearances of their former state the remembrance of which, is mostly fresh in his mind, all of which, he respectfully presents, to his friends and the public.

D. B.
Philadelphia, May, 1839

History of Philadelphia

Source: A History of Philadelphia: With a Notice of Villages, in the Vicinity, Printed and published by Daniel Bowen, 1839
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