451 Marie Elcin


One of the things I love about Philadelphia is that it is among the oldest cities of our nation, and every day I walk down the same streets and see some of the same buildings that my ancestors and our forefathers experienced. I am grateful that the leaders of our city have preserved green spaces for our health and recreation. From Penn’s plan including the four city squares (Franklin, Logan, Rittenhouse, and Washington) to the Bicentennial World’s Fair establishing Fairmount park, we have more green space in our city than almost any other U.S. metropolis. Even our green spaces hold the history of our city. My favorite place in Philadelphia is Forbidden Drive in Fairmount Park. The main path used to be a road that followed along the Wissahickon and connected the mills along its banks to the city. Along the main road you can still see fountains and horse troughs for weary travelers—the original “pit stops.” The back trails have their secrets, too. I walk in the Wissahickon ravine nearly every weekend with my family. Each time we try to take a different trail. After ten years I think we still haven’t discovered all the paths yet. But along one trail on the west side, which meanders close to Henry avenue there is my favorite place of all. A steep hill rises away from the trail up towards Henry Avenue. Over time the rain has eroded the soil to reveal an old trash heap. It sounds disgusting that an old trash heap is my favorite place…but trash from a hundred years ago isn’t the gross plastic crap of today. Here and there, peeking up from the eroded soil are shards of broken pottery, glass, and seashells—like someone had a great feast and then dumped the whole table of fine china down this hill. My magpie tendencies cannot resist the temptation of poking through to find just the right piece of patterned china in my favorite colors. So this little piece of stitched fabric holds two little fragments—a piece of an unknown history from people long ago to mark my experience today.