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.

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

Interactive Map

You can use this map created specially by the Southwark Historical Society to check out each and every one of these sites for yourself.

The Stories

Carpenters' Hall

Carpenters’ Hall

Jim Murphy takes you behind the scenes of one of historian David McCullough’s favorite historic Philadelphia buildings.

The U.S. Custom House

Jim Murphy takes a look at the marvelous U.S. Custom House … and the eagles that protect it.
PSFS Building

The PSFS Building

There’s much more to this deceptively simple, skyscraper with the famous neon sign than meets the eye. It’s timeless!
Henry Wadsworth

The Acadian Connection

Longfellow’s poem still has people searching for the tombs of the Acadian heroine and her lost lover Gabriel.
The Dream Garden

The Dream Garden

If you’re traveling anywhere in center city, take a few minutes and treat yourself to The Dream Garden.
Christ Church

Christ Church

With a soaring 196-foot steeple, Christ Church is both a spectacular historic building … and living history at its best.
William Penn

Welcome Park

Considering all that William Penn did for Philadelphia, he is unappreciated by the very city he founded.
The Lazaretto

The Lazaretto

This quarantine station – “Ellis Island’s Great Grandfather” – helped protect Philadelphia residents for 94 years.
Isaiah Zagar

Isaiah Zagar

Jim Murphy explores the artist behind the colorful, shimmering mosaics found all over Philadelphia.
Irish Memorial

The Irish Memorial

This is a powerful tribute to the millions of Irish immigrants who fled in “coffin ships” to the U.S. between 1845 and 1850.
Old Pine Church

Old Pine Street Churchyard

Old Pine has the highest density of any graveyard in Philadelphia, with 3,000 or more people buried in less than an acre.
John Barry

Who is John Barry?

Without John Barry’s heroism and leadership, we might well be swearing allegiance today to the Queen of England.
Fort Mifflin

Historic Fort Mifflin

This historic fort has something for everyone: Living history, military reenactments and paranormal activity.
Public baths at Gaskill and Leithgow Streets. Image courtesy of the Public Baths Association of the Philadelphia records at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

The Gaskill Street Baths

The Public Baths Association opened its first baths in “one of the oldest and most thickly populated sections of the city.”