There’s a joke from comedian W.C. Fields that goes like this: “First prize was a week in Philadelphia. Second prize was two weeks.” Fields, who was born in the suburbs of our beloved city in the 1880s, knew its reputation for entertainment was, at the time, laughable. If you were a person in his audience, a person who paid money to be entertained, Philadelphia just wasn’t your bag. Even today, it’s likely you’ve had a conversation with an out-of-town friend that started or ended with them asking, “What’s there to do in Philly, anyway?”
We know there’s a lot. Specifically in music, with the come up of large venues like Union Transfer and The Fillmore, we’re getting less slack for being a flatline between New York and D.C. or Baltimore. Still, despite our scene — rich to us right now — we’re kind of destined to forget the scene that came before us, or the one before that. It’s not our fault, it’s that these historic, exciting, tragic, romantic, piss-stained buildings, banquet halls and flophouses eventually close down. They disappear, and when they do, there’s no one really touting their memory.
Following the recent buzz around 858 N. Broad, a hulking figure in North Philly that was built in 1908 as The Metropolitan Opera House and recently purchased by Divine Lorraine developer Eric Blumenfeld for future renovation, we decided to play a game of Broad street memory lane. Read about some of the special places lodged in the history of the 14th Street music scene below. Continue reading →