|James Peniston's nine-foot bronze Franklin (2007)|
Ben Franklin's legacy saturates the city of Philadelphia. There's the bridge, the institute, the court, the square, and the stove that bear his name, plus other inventions and institutions for which he gets less credit. Did you know he invented bifocals? Swim fins? A musical instrument called the glass armonica? This man had a lot of interests, the time to pursue them, and the patience to write about them. I have the patience to write about my favorite BF sites and facts, but for a thorough study I recommend his famous autobiography. This slender tome is well worth the time--he describes his interesting life and shares his thoughts.
Franklin was a character, and my favorite story is when he talks about the virtues. He organized this group in Philadelphia called the Junto, and identified thirteen virtues that they would work on individually and then report back to the group on their progress. During one of Franklin's reports, a member pointed out that he forgot humility. Franklin retorted that humility was not a virtue he could boast about. Slippery stuff, that humility; if you claim you have it, you probably don't.
So many things are named for him in this region that those of us from here don't always notice! Philadelphia's tree- and museum-lined boulevard modeled after Paris's Champs-Elysées and leading up to the Museum of Art's Rocky steps is called the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. One of Philadelphia's five original squares, the northeast one, is named for Franklin and has a great view of the iconic Lightning Bolt statue (1984) commemorating Franklin's famous electricity experiment with a key, a kite, and a lightning bolt. Just beyond is the two-mile-long Benjamin Franklin Bridge connecting Philadelphia with Camden, New Jersey.
|The Lightning Bolt (Isamu Noguchi) with the Ben Franklin Bridge behind|
The Franklin Institute at Logan Circle is a premier science museum with awesome interactive exhibits and an IMAX theater. Kids around the region still talk about the Giant Heart exhibit that people can walk through, and it opened in 1954!
|A common sight: school buses parked in front of the Franklin Institute.|
BTW, thanks to Brian Johnstone for this post's clever subtitle!