Sunday, June 21, 2015

FIELD TRIP REPORT: Washington Avenue Green
Saturday, 13 June  2015, 10 am

On an unseasonably warm Saturday morning, members of the Humboldt Society visited the latest park offering on the Delaware River Waterfront.  At the intersection of Washington Avenue and Christopher Columbus Boulevard is a wooden totem that marks the beginning of a multi-use blacktop trail.  An official plaque commemorates the now-demolished Immigration Station.  From 1870 until 1915, hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Europe first set foot on American soil here.  The buildings have burned down, but much of the pier structure remains.  Thoughtful design has allowed the story to be told while attempting to provide a 21st Century remediation and interpretation.  

What is a river?  What part did it play in the history of this place? What has become of the abundant natural resources that drew so many here in the first place?  What is being done to right the wrongs of environmental opportunism?

The fish and shellfish, the trees and their fruits, the waterfowl and the songbirds are all coming back.  Most importantly, the water is cleaner now than it was when the SS Kensington and other ships docked here to unload their wide-eyed passengers.  

The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation has worked to acquire and protect the land here.  They engaged artist Stacey Levy to tell the story of stormwater through her site-specific installation, “Dendritic Decay.” The pier adaptation was designed by Applied Ecological Services (AES), and built by AES and Neshaminy Contractors. It features a planting palette that combines native flora and their more attractive cultivars with long-established exotics.  They tell the story of riparian habitats in a colorful and sophisticated way.  The former Pier 53 that was home to the nation’s first Navy Yard and then to the rambling Immigration Station is now punctuated by another site-specific artwork, Jody Pinto’s “Land Buoy.”  This new landmark allows young and older visitors to gain an appreciation of the working waterfront, both bridges, and the river itself.  

On our two-hour walk, we got close up and personal with a number of vibrant wildflowers – black-eyed Susan, butterflyweed, yellow goatsbeard, bergamot, flower-of-an-hour, bouncing bet, and others. Canada geese dallied in the embayment while tree swallows played overhead.  
This is an open space that is an important landmark to visit any time of the year.  As the re-imagination of the waterfront expands south to encompass other piers, locals and visitors will be able to re-connect with the river in meaningful ways.  
Report: Michael LoFurno

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Annual Winter Solstice Celebration

Humboldt Society Members, Friends, and New Guests!

Hard to believe but it's almost time, once again, for our traditional Winter Solstice Celebration Party and everyone's favorite year-in-review meeting, with

delicious food, relaxing drinks and captivating images. 

As with all meetings, this will be on the second Thursday of the month:

7:30 pm at 
William Way Community Center
1315 Spruce St.

We are naturalist and we are your friends and family. We want to see you there. Hey, if not now, when?

Let's take advantage of the occasion and spend some time together. No one lives forever, so let's celebrate today.

Mark that calendar now.

So bring your favorite dish to our potluck dinner and a bottle of your favorite beverage and be ready to taste a variety of fine foods and drinks. Then sit back and enjoy a relaxing evening as Michael LoFurno presents the annual Digital Image Review of meetings and field trips from the past year. Bring a friend!

(If you have any digital images to contribute, please identify them and send them to me and Michael Thompson. His email is    

Thanks again and RSVP-email me at telling me what dish you will be bringing.


Stephen Maciejewski

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thursday 13 November 2014 @ 730 PM
William Way Community Center
1315 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107

At Home with Nature
Natural History and the 19th Century Interior
John Whitenight

19th Century parlor with nature captured under glass.

Please join us on Thursday November 13th to explore the role that natural history played in the everyday lives of people from the 19th Century. John Whitenight will present a slide show with images from his book, Under Glass A Victorian Obsession, that illustrate how objects created from beeswax, sea shells and collections of taxidermy filled the parlors and drawing rooms of 19th century interiors.  During that era an obsession developed with the natural world which has never been surpassed. Collections of many wealthy "amateur naturalists" developed into present day natural history museums both here and abroad.  This idea of bringing the outdoors inside will be presented in an informative and comprehensive manner.

Wax model of a Vanda orchid, Kew Gardens, c. 1895.
Wax model of a Vanda orchid, Kew Gardens, c. 1895.

Shell flower bouquet under glass, c. 1870.

Exotic bird fire screen by Henry Ward, c. 1865.

FYI the video of John Whitenight's segment with Martha Stewart is now on her website. Clink on the link below and scroll down to Martha Live and More on SiriusXM. His interview is the fourth from the left. Just click on it. 

Fire screen of Australian birds attributed to Rowland Ward, c. 1890.

Ornithological cabinet by Luce and Chapelle, Isle of Jersey, 1855.

See you on:

Thursday 13 November 2014 @ 730 PM
William Way Community Center
1315 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107


Plus an upcoming event that you will not want to miss.
A Field Trip in Center City to see the real thing:

An Afternoon of Victorian Splendor

Coming soon 
Saturday November 15th at 2 P.M. near 12th and Spruce Sts.
Which will also be
 A Fundraiser for 
the Wagner Free Institute of Science 
and the Humboldt Society

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Re-launch of the Humboldt Society Blog

Please bare with us while we re-launch the (new) blog of the Humboldt Society.
Thank you.

Humboldt penguins at the Philadelphia Zoo.