25 Things You Didn’t Know About Philadelphia

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It’s home to the Liberty Bell, the Declaration of Independence, and Philly cheesesteaks. But there’s more than that going on in the City of Brotherly Love.

1. Philly is a city of firsts. On top of hosting America’s first birthday, it also started up the country’s first daily newspaper—The Philadelphia Packet and Daily Advertiser—in 1784.

2. The city is home to America's first zoo.

3. It’s also home to the first hospital.

4. And, naturally, the first medical school!

5. Philadelphia is actually renowned for its medical sector. One out of every six doctors in the U.S. is trained in Philly.

6. Move over, England. The Walnut Street Theater is actually the oldest continually running theater in the English-speaking world.

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7. It was originally owned by Edwin Booth—you might know him as John Wilkes Booth’s brother.  

8. Philly became home to the first general purpose computer in 1946.

9. It weighed 27 tons!

10. Philly boasts more Impressionist paintings than any other city outside Paris.

11. Art is a big deal here. Boasting over 2000 outdoor murals, it’s been called the “mural capital of the U.S.”

12. If you’re more of a foodie, Philly is also home to the Wing Bowl, an eating contest that draws crowds as large as 20,000 people. 

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13. In 1943, Phillies owner Robert Carpenter attempted to rename the team the Blue Jays. The nickname obviously failed to catch on.

14. Why are the Flyers called the Flyers? Because Ed Snider’s wife simply thought the name sounded good.

15. As for the Eagles, they’re actually named for the Eagle that appeared on posters during the National Recovery Act, which was part of FDR’s New Deal.

16. Before that, the city's home team was the Frankford Yellow Jackets.

17. In 1988, the Eagles helped make the world’s largest cheesesteak. To no one’s surprise, it was the length of a football field.

18. In the beginning, the Philadelphia mint took several years to produce its first million coins.

19. Today, it can make that many in less than an hour.

20. One of the first businesses in Philly? Beer. William Frampton’s brewery started up in 1683.

21. For the U.S. bicentennial, the city planted a “moon tree.” (That is, a tree grown from a seed taken on the Apollo 14 mission.)

22. Philly’s Mütter Museum has a great collection of medical oddities, including slides of Einstein’s brain, slices of a human face, and a book bound by human skin.

23. Surprise! Neither Thomas Jefferson nor John Adams signed the Constitution—they were out of town.

24. Sorry, but there’s no evidence that Philadelphia resident Betsy Ross stitched the first American flag.

25. The story was made up in 1870, some 100 years after the fact. You can still visit her home in Philly’s Old City neighborhood, though! 

This London Pub Might Be the Most Ethical Bar in the World

Ridofranz/Getty Images
Ridofranz/Getty Images

Pub owner Randy Rampersad is doing his part for sustainability. In June, he opened the Green Vic—a play on the fictional Queen Vic pub in the soap opera EastEnders—in the East London neighborhood of Shoreditch. The Telegraph reports it’s aiming to be the world’s most ethical pub: Rampersad eschews plastic and paper straws and opts for gluten-free wheat “straws.” He sources the bar's 100 percent recycled toilet paper from green-minded company Who Gives a Crap, and the communal wooden tables are upcycled.

“I wanted to make the world a better place and run my own business, but I was waiting for that eureka moment,” Rampersad told The Telegraph. He discovered no one had done anything like this before.

There’s no meat on the menu—the food is totally vegan, healthy-ish pub grub. You can add CBD oil to the “chkn" bites appetizer, and the burgers are made from ingredients like soy, seaweed, and sweet potato. The beers are produced by ethical brewers, too: Toast Ale uses unsold loaves and crusts of bread; Good Things Brewing crafts its beer from 100 percent renewable energy; South Africa’s Afro Vegan Cider donates money to an organization that funds equal pay for female farmers; and Brewgooder donates to water projects.

In fact, everything the Green Vic does has charity in mind. “We don't care about the money, I’m planet first and profit after,” Rampersad told The Telegraph. Up to 80 percent of its profits will go to charitable causes, including local food banks. As for the staff, one in four are from marginalized groups. The Green Vic plans to operate as a three-month pop-up pub while scouting for longer term investment.

The Cat Sanctuary That Sits Near the Ancient Roman Site Where Julius Caesar Was Murdered

ClaireLucia/iStock via Getty Images Plus
ClaireLucia/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Cats will sleep anywhere—even in ancient ruins. Located in Rome, Colonia Felina di Torre Argentina is a cat sanctuary on the site where conspirators stabbed Julius Caesar 22 times outside the Theatre of Pompey, on March 15 44 BCE. Centuries later, in 1929, Mussolini excavated the area to reveal four temples that are 20 feet below the street level. Today, it’s the oldest open-air spot in Rome.

Bystanders can view the temple complex known as Largo di Torre Argentina from the fenced-off street, but according to Conde Nast Traveler, after a $1.1 million restoration process, the sanctuary will open to tourists in the second half of 2021. For now, the only living things allowed in the sacred area (area sacra) are feral cats.

According to Colonia’s website, they are "the most famous cat sanctuary in Italy” and also the oldest in Rome. Many of the cats fall into the special needs category: Some are disabled, missing part of a paw, or are blind; the special needs and elderly cats live in a walled-off area. Volunteers—a.k.a. gattare, or cat ladies—take good care of them, and some cats are available for adoption.

Atlas Obscura reports that “since the mid-1990s, the population has grown from about 90 to a peak of 250” cats and notes that the sanctuary has a spay/neuter program. From the street, visitors can watch gatti like the three-legged Pioppo and Lladrò—known as “poisonous kitten” because of how angry he was when he got there—sunbathe and sleep under pillars.

It’s unclear if the cats are respecting Caesar or disrespecting the fallen leader. However, a gift shop is open to visitors, and people can donate money toward the cats and/or volunteer.

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