From 2011 to 2016, Jim Murphy’s column, “Exploring the City,” ran in the Society Hill Reporter six times a year.

His subject matter in those 32 columns ranges from “Our Charley,” a child buried in Old Pine Churchyard … to Commodore John Barry … to the ground-breaking PSFS building.

To make his stories come alive, Jim looks for what he calls interesting oddities. And he often captures and summarizes important details in Fast Facts at the bottom of his columns.

Jim now writes for QVNA, the magazine published by the Queen Village Neighbors Association.

A lover of history and Philadelphia, Jim is also certified as a tour guide by the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides.

  • ‘Liberty 360’ Adds a New Dimension to Learning - A few steps from Independence Hall, state-of-the-art technology is making Philadelphia’s history come alive in powerful new ways for young and old alike.
  • Captain Gustavus Conyngham, USN, King George III’s Worst Nightmare - This daring Errol-Flynn-type character terrorized English ships, capturing more vessels than Commodore John Barry and Captain John Paul Jones combined.
  • Christ Church - With a soaring 196-foot steeple that towers over newer structures nearby, Christ Church is both a spectacular historic building … and living history at its best.
  • City Hall - Whether you love it or hate it –Philadelphia’s remarkable City Hall is unique, impressive and a world leader in several categories.
  • Historic Fort Mifflin - This historic fort has something for everyone: Living history, military reenactments and even a strong reputation for paranormal activity.
  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania - At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, you’ll find an astonishing collection of unique documents, watercolors, genealogical records, letters, diaries and more.
  • Isaiah Zagar - After moving to Philadelphia from the suburbs in 2008, Jim Murphy was fascinated by the colorful, shimmering mosaics he found on Gaskill, Leithgow, and South Streets.
  • National Archives at Philadelphia - Whether you are putting together a family history, trying to prove citizenship, learning how to evaluate primary sources, or doing any type of historical research, it’s worth a visit to the National Archives.
  • National Museum of American Jewish History - After watching the National Museum of American Jewish History’s glass and terra cotta building rising along 5th Street below Market for what seemed like ages, Jim Murphy was anxious to see what was inside.
  • Old Pine Street Churchyard - Old Pine has the highest density of any graveyard in the city of Philadelphia, with 3,000 or more people buried in less than an acre.
  • Reading Terminal Market - A venerable institution that almost went out of business some 30 to 35 years ago, Reading Terminal Market is still fighting the good fight today.
  • The Acadian Connection - Longfellow’s popular poem Evangeline still has people searching for the tombs of the Acadian heroine and her lost lover Gabriel in Philadelphia – even though they’re fictional characters!
  • The African American Museum of Philadelphia - At the African American Museum, you’ll meet a “Who’s Who” of remarkable Americans many of us know little about.
  • The Athenaeum of Philadelphia - This historic special-collections library and museum on Washington Square welcomes residents and tourists alike.
  • The Ben Franklin Bridge - When it opened in 1926, the Ben Franklin was the longest suspension bridge in the world!
  • The Dream Garden - If you’re traveling anywhere in center city near Independence Hall, take a few minutes and treat yourself to The Dream Garden.
  • The Fairmount Water Works - The Fairmount Water Works offers visitors breathtaking views, innovative architecture and a unique look at municipal problem-solving.
  • The Gaskill Street Baths - The Public Baths Association formally opened its first baths April 20, 1898 at 410-12 Gaskill Street in “one of the oldest and most thickly populated sections of the city.”
  • The Irish Memorial - This is a powerful and poignant tribute to the millions of Irish immigrants who fled in “coffin ships” to the U.S. between 1845 and 1850.
  • The Lazaretto - Americas oldest quarantine station – “Ellis Island’s Great Grandfather” – helped protect Philadelphia residents for 94 years.
  • The Library Company of Philadelphia - If you’re looking for books, prints, periodicals, photos or ephemera from Colonial America through the 19th century, this is the place to go!
  • The Magnificent Masonic Temple - Inside are seven spectacular halls representing different cultures and styles – each one more dazzling than the last. The building is an architectural tour de force.
  • The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts - According to Jim Murphy, this one-of-a-kind creation should be #1 on every Philadelphian’s bucket list.
  • The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent - The Philadelphia History Museum, which reopened in September 2012, has over 100,000 items in its vast collection.
  • The PSFS Building - There’s much more to this deceptively simple, skyscraper with the famous neon sign than meets the eye. It’s timeless!
  • Triple Philly Treat - Enjoy 3 magnificent buildings in 3 different styles … all within 300 steps of each other
  • Washington Avenue Immigration Station - Since the 1870’s, the station was an entry point and processing center for immigrants, primarily from Southern and Eastern Europe. From here, newcomers moved into the city or other parts of the state.
  • Welcome Park - Considering all that William Penn did for Philadelphia and our nation – while living here less than four years – he is seriously unappreciated by the very city he founded.
  • Who is John Barry? - Commodore John Barry played an extraordinary role in our country’s history. Without his heroism and leadership, we might well be swearing allegiance today to the Queen of England.