This is the first of a series of articles about the Politics of Preservation in the city of Brotherly Love and the Golden Circle. I was first introduced to the term “Golden Circle” in 1996 by Abe Rosen, the gentleman who “Saved the Fort that Saved America.”
In 1952 Mr. Rosen was the port promotion director for the City of Philadelphia. In that position he met Kurt Smith, then president of the Philadelphia Hotel Association. Abe related to me that ”It was Kurt who introduced me to Fort Mifflin” and that “I fell in love with Fort Mifflin and just knew that Philadelphia needed it to keep tourists here for more than the “customary'' two to three hours.”
In 1966 Abe became a city representative and related that “ I convinced the federal government to return the land that embraced Fort Mifflin to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania so it could be given to the city.” The plan was for Philadelphia to restore it to it's Civil War Era foot print, Philadelphia was the arsenal of the Union, while celebrating it Revolutionary War history with a week long commemoration of the Siege of Fort Mifflin that occurred during the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777. The day to day operations of Fort Mifflin were to be managed by a lessee while the City of Philadelphia maintained it with public and private monies.
New plans were in the works by the tourism bureau that called for a “Golden Circle” with the Independence Hall area as the center. Abe related that the tourism bureau felt “What could be more dramatic than to have Constitution Hall and the original draft of the Constitution close to the Liberty Bell?” It would serve as “the introduction to Philadelphia and American History” Abe argued “that the location rightfully and historically belongs on the Delaware River at Fort Mifflin.” Abe explained that “We thought it was a natural because I-95 would bring north and south traffic into Fort Mifflin , while the Vine Expressway would direct Schuylkill Expressway traffic there from the west.”
Long and short term parking at the airport could also serve the “Gateway to Liberty” at Fort Mifflin” and keep traffic off of congested city streets while river boats, taxis, tour buses and public transportation would carry visitors to attractions throughout the City of Brotherly Love.
Utilizing the vast cultural landscape of “The Fort that Saved America”, Abe coined the term in 1954, and letting visitors start and end their exploration of Philadelphia at the “Gateway to Liberty” Abe explained that ”a two-to-three-hour visit to Independence Hall would easily become a three-to-four-day visit to the city and if you expand that tour to include the Liberty Trail, following Washington's troop movements through Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties it might
extend that visit to five to six days.”
So you ask, what happened to the Gateway to Liberty at Fort Mifflin? Where are the river boats, gateway parking, public transportation station, the restored Civil War Era Fort Mifflin and congestion free city streets? The short answer to what happened is “The Golden Circle” and to learn more watch for the remainder of this series about the “Politics of Preservation in the city of Brotherly Love.”