His­toric Bris­tol Day 102

The Advance of Bucks County - - BRISTOL AREA - By Cate Mur­way

As dark­ness de­scended on the last day of gan­uary 1917, Ger­man am­bas­sador go­hann von Bern­storff called on Sec­re­tary of State Robert ians­ing, who served in the po­si­tion of le­gal ad­vi­sor to the state depart­ment at the out­break of WWI, to de­liver the chill­ing mes­sage that made war in­evitable for Amer­ica.

The U.S. had been mov­ing un­al­ter­ably to­ward war with Ger­many ever since a Ger­man U-boat had tor­pe­doed the British ocean liner RMS iusi­ta­nia, en­rag­ing Amer­i­cans off the coast of South­ern Ire­land at Old Head of hin­sale in May 1915.

On board were 1,959 peo­ple, 159 of whom were Amer­i­cans.

World War I im­pacted the Amer­i­can econ­omy long be­fore the U.S. en­tered the FRn­flLFW Ln $SULO 1917. 6KRUWOy DIWHU WKH out­break of hos­til­i­ties in 1914, Amer­i­can for­eign trade be­gan to ex­pe­ri­ence a short­age of mer­chant ships.

A visionary, Wil­liam Averell Har­ri­man, the steamship king, was not, but he had pow­er­ful faith that new tech­nol­ogy al­ways brought with it in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity.

Har­ri­man was then 25 years old and the fa­ther of a month old daugh­ter, Mary, named in honor of his mother, Mary Wil­liamson [Averell] Har­ri­man. He was ful­fiOOLnJ WKH IDPLOy REOLJDWLRnV DV WKH HOGHVW son, per­form­ing more than a mod­icum of pub­lic ser­vice and learn­ing the busi­ness of his fa­ther, rail­road mag­nate Ed­ward Henry “E. H.” Har­ri­man.

To make a mark of his own, he had to es­tab­lish a place out­side of the rail­road in­dus­try. Averell was slow to un­der­stand the im­pli­ca­tions of the war for Amer­ica and him­self and al­though his mind­set was in neu­tral­ity, he felt he could pro­vide a ser­vice much more im­por­tant than hoist­ing D ULflH RU VHUvLnJ DV D MunLRU RI­fiFHU.

The world’s largest ship­yard then was in Philadel­phia at the site of the fu­ture Philadel­phia In­ter­na­tional Air­port. Be­cause of the war and the need for cargo ships, dozens of ship­yards were set up along the Delaware River.

His Mer­chants’ Ship­build­ing Com­pany be­gan work at a 270-acre site in Bris­tol, 25 miles up the Delaware from Philadel­phia and ar­chi­tect Car­roll H. Pratt, known as a town plan­ner, was ap­pointed de­signer of the build­ings.

HDUULPDn LV KLVWRULFDOOy VLJnL­fiFDnW WR Bris­tol be­cause it’s closely as­so­ci­ated with the mo­bi­liza­tion of Amer­i­can in­dus­try dur­ing WWI, which af­fected the coun­try’s econ­omy be­fore the U.S. in­volve­ment in WKH FRn­flLFW. ,W wDV D WRwn EuLOW WR KHOS wLn the war.

The op­er­a­tion re­quired con­struc­tion of shops and fa­cil­i­ties in or­der to build at least a dozen freighters at a time and a town for the 12,000 work­ers re­quired. There were six rows of ear­lier com­pany hous­ing built in 1907 for the em­ploy­ees of the de­funct Stan­dard Cast Iron Pipe & Foundry Com­pany, from which Har­ri­man had pur­chased the prop­erty. These uni­formly de­signed houses rep­re­sented a sharp con­trast to the row upon row of in­di­vid­u­ally tai­lored stucco homes con­structed by the Emer­gency Fleet Cor­po­ra­tion.

Averell Har­ri­man brought in an old steamer, the Cape May, and docked it at the shore, to pro­vide liv­ing quar­ters for the fiUVW FRnVWUuFWLRn JDnJV. 7KH FDUSHnWHUV, steel­work­ers and la­bor­ers were swarm­ing over the site from dawn un­til dusk as well­paved and sew­ered streets be­gan stretch­ing forth.

Far­ragut Av­enue be­came the vil­lage’s busi­ness dis­trict and it was there that Har­ri­man’s hospi­tal was built. The en­tire community in­cluded the most mod­ern in­fra­struc­ture of the time, such as san­i­tary plumb­ing, elec­tric, hot air fur­naces or steam heat.

Har­ri­man pur­chased a com­fort­able home from the wealthy seed mer­chant, Bur­net ian­dreth, over­look­ing the Delaware and he shut­tled back and forth in his mo­tor launch, the Wah Wah, be­tween Har­ri­man, Pa., the new ship­yard community and his prop­erty in Chester.

The gov­ern­ment had agreed to pay him A64,000 per ship with bonuses up to A15,000 for early de­liv­ery. A long-range vi­sion was for the US to emerge from the war as a new maritime power that would ri­val Great Bri­tain and Ger­many. gohn Roche, Ed.D. will por­tray W. Averell Har­ri­man on Bris­tol His­toric Day.

When pro­duc­tion at the ship­yard de­clined due to a post­war ship­build­ing slump, the gov­ern­ment con­se­quently closed the ship­yard and put many of the res­i­den­tial houses up for auc­tion on Dec. 7, 1921.

On May 17, 1922, Har­ri­man with its 17 acres was an­nexed into his­toric Bris­tol on the Delaware and is known as the East Ward.

Dr. Ge­orge T. Fox pur­chased, ren­o­vated and re­dec­o­rated the Har­ri­man Hospi­tal to a 40-bed ca­pac­ity and opened it to the SuEOLF WKDW -uOy. WLWK D fivH-VWRUy DGGL­tion, it later be­came the Delaware Val­ley Hospi­tal.

WWII changed the pace of quiet Bris­tol. The old ship­yards were put to use as Fleetwings where air­craft was built. Sea­soned res­i­dents can re­call the painted win­dows, the swing shifts and watch­ing with pride as a pop­u­lar red, white and EOuH SHn­nDnW wDV KRLVWHG Rn WKH flDJSROH an­nounc­ing that the pro­duc­tion quota had been met.

iis­ten for the sto­ries. The as­sured tone of the voice and the wel­com­ing ex­pres­sion on the face are those of pride. Sto­ries about the river be­ing frozen so solid that horses and sleighs, and even au­to­mo­biles could cross, are true. So are sto­ries about the shad be­ing so plen­ti­ful in the river, they could be raked ashore, the un­der­ground rail­road, fancy balls in the lux­u­ri­ous ho­tels and goseph Bon­a­parte’s vis­its that have all en­hanced the proud his­tory of Bris­tol.

Bris­tol is an out­stand­ing mem­ber of the iand­mark Towns of Bucks County.

Penn­syl­va­nia’s as­sort­ment of charm­ing his­toric towns cap­tures the spirit of the mak­ing of Amer­ica, the im­por­tance of free­dom and the drive for in­no­va­tion.

Bris­tol is un­der­rated. There is lots of his­tory in over 300 years.

His­toric Bris­tol Day is al­ways the third Satur­day in Oc­to­ber when the trees be­gin to take on a multi-golden hue and front steps are home to color-rich chrysan­the­mums.

The Bris­tol Cul­tural and His­toric Foun­da­tion is host­ing the 36th An­nual His­toric Bris­tol Day on Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 S.P. Ln HDUULPDn. B&HF LV D nRn-SUR­fiW or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing over 330 years of Bris­tol’s his­tory and in­creas­ing cul­tural op­por­tu­ni­ties for all res­i­dents of the community.

Orig­i­nally called the Rad­cliffe Cul­tural and His­tor­i­cal Foun­da­tion, unique in pro­mot­ing his­tory and cul­ture, it can be traced back to May 1967. The found­ing mem­bers, goseph E. Pavone, Rohm & Haas chemist Robert Cox, the late U.S. Army Air Corps Vet­eran of WWII Sey­mour S. ha­p­lan, mer­chant Charles Rich­mond, Dr. gulius So­bel and school prin­ci­pal hen­neth 3HDUFH LnFRUSRUDWHG WKLV nRn-SUR­fiW HGuFD­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion.

7KH ODWH DUWLVW, -RH 3DvRnH wDV WKHLU fiUVW pres­i­dent and they met weekly at his Rad­cliffe Art Gallery on Franklin Street. The

The late Wil­liam Paul Fer­gu­son or­ga­nized walk­ing tours of the town. The di­rec­tor of the Mar­garet R. Grundy Memo­rial iibrary, Mary gane Mannherz and Pauline White, dubbed Ey 3DvRne DV “WKe GynDPLF GuR,” lDunFKeG WKe fiUVW HLVWRULF Bris­tol Day.

This event re­vives the colo­nial tradition and the cel­e­bra­tory at­mos­phere of mar­ket days, a time when crowds con­verged not only to buy and sell their goods, but also to meet and greet neigh­bors.

Bris­tol, a wharf town nes­tled on a bend of the Delaware River, saw much of the goods nec­es­sary for daily liv­ing dur­ing the early days, trans­ported into the area.

Since 1978, the venue has in­cluded his­toric homes, walk­ing tours, dis­plays, chil­dren’s cor­ner, crafts and en­ter­tainPenW DnG nRw D 5LveU 5eJDWWD. HDUULPDn 7URl­ley 7RuU DnG a Car Show will be added to the so­cial and pro­mo­tional venue.

The craft and ven­dor area will be lo­cated on the 200 and 300 blocks of Rad­cliffe Street.

$ IUDPeG -RVeSK 6DJRllD RULJLnDl wDWeUFRlRU RI WKe HDUULPDn EuVLneVV GLVWULFW wLll Ee UDIfleG. -Re 6DJRllD LV Dn DF­com­plished artist at work. The town is rich with his artis­tic ex­pres­sions, from the his­toric mon­u­ments that he re­stored to the col­ored con­crete tiles along the Delaware that he built from scratch, to the large painted mu­ral de­pict­ing the his­toric water­front that adorns the Na­tional Penn Bank on Rad­cliffe Street.

An event ticket is re­quired for the trol­ley, house tours and tea. Tick­ets, A1 each or six for A5 are avail­able the day of the event and at other Bris­tol Events. Tick­ets may also be SuUFKDVeG Ey FDl­lLnJ He­len YRunJlRve DW 215-788-9408.

FRU WKRVe KunJUy IRU PRUe WKDn MuVW KLVWRUy, WKe BCHF Bak­ery co-chairs, sis­ters Mary and goanne “godi” hehoe are re­cruit­ing bor­ough res­i­dents and lo­cal ievit­town friends to bake fresh de­li­cious home­made goods for the event. Who needs that pack­aged stuff any­way?

The bake sale has al­ways been an im­por­tant fundraiser to pro­vide schol­ar­ships to lo­cal students and help to spon­sor the Writer’s Voice Pro­gram.

HLVWRULF BULVWRl Rn WKe DelDwDUe LV ULFK Ln KeULWDJe wLWK faith in the fu­ture. Bring your kin and en­joy this an­nual, his­toric community cel­e­bra­tion. Whether you visit dur­ing a parade or a fes­ti­val when the streets are brim­ming with ac­tiv­ity or take in the sim­pler life while sit­ting on a bench near the post­card-per­fect Vic­to­rian gazebo in the water­front Bris­tol iion’s park, you will al­ways be wel­come.

Vol­un­teers are needed. If you could vol­un­teer to help for a cou­ple of hours dur­ing the early morn­ing of, dur­ing the HBD KRuUV, RU DW WKe enG (4 S.P.) RI WKe evenW, LW wRulG Ee greatly ap­pre­ci­ated!

FRU PRUe LnIRUPDWLRn DERuW HLVWRULF BULVWRl DDy, FRnWDFW WKe BULVWRl CulWuUDl & HLVWRULFDl FRunGDWLRn, 321 CeGDU Street, Bris­tol, 215-781-9895, www.bris­tol­his­tory.org

His­toric Bris­tol Day 102 is the sec­ond seg­ment of a se­ries in­tro­duc­ing the 36th An­nual His­toric Bris­tol Day to be held on Oct. 20.

Rec­om­mend a “Spot­light.” Email vjm­run@ya­hoo.com. ww

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