Philadelphia is a city of incredible history – from the founding of our country to the Eagles first Super Bowl victory, there have been so many moments that have defined various generations. Here are a few of the biggest moments in modern Philadelphia history that anyone who grew up here will certainly remember.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Philadelphia Flyers first home game (October 19, 1967)
As part of the original NFL expansion, Philadelphia got its first hockey team. The Flyers opened their season on the road, but their first home game was on October 19, 1967. They started a long tradition of beating the Penguins with a 1-0 shutout. Almost 8,000 people attended the game.
2. And their back-to-back championships (1973–74 & 1974–75)
It didn't take long for the team to establish itself as a powerhouse of hockey. Known for their rough playing style and rowdy fans, they became a top team in only a few short years. They won back to back Stanley Cups during the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons. Their ticker tape parades down Broad Street drew hundreds of thousands of fans.
3. Oh, and the time they scared the Russians off the ice (January 11, 1976)
At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union's Central Red Army hockey team came to the states for a series of exhibitions. The Central Red Army was known to be the best hockey team in the world. On January 11 at the Spectrum, the Flyers took them on. The Broad Street Bullies lived up to their name, and midway through the first period, the Soviets left the ice in protest for their style of play. The Russian team were eventually convinced to get back into the game, and the Flyers dominated with a 4-1 victory. They were the only team to beat the Red Army during their exhibition run.
4. Betsy Ross Bridge Opening (April 30, 1976)
The Betsy Ross Bridge officially opened in 1976, and the joke as been that it's been under construction ever since! This was the first major bridge named after a woman (and the second bridge overall, after an Iowan bridge was renamed for a heroic teenage girl).
5. Three Mile Island Accident (March 28, 1979)
The most significant nuclear accident in America occurred outside of Philadelphia in 1979. Though it was closer to Harrisburg, many Philadelphians worked in or around the plant, and it was devastating news for the whole region. A partial meltdown led to fears of a pressure vessel explosion, and the operators had not been trained in emergency protocol. Luckily, the vessel held, and there was no public health disaster. However, tiny amounts of dangerous radiation did escape into the atmosphere, and the incident and cleanup cost more than $1 billion over the next decade.
6. Pope John Paul II visits Philadelphia (October 3, 1979)
When Pope John Paul II announced his tour of America, Philadelphia was on the list of places from where he would preach. The city drew millions of devout Catholics to a mass at Eakins Oval, and it was a culturally significant event for many people in the area.
7. The Phillies Win the World Series (1980)
After many rough years, the Philadelphia Phillies finally put together a fantastic, dominating season and defeated the Kansas City Royals in 1980 to win the World Series. Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, and Mike Schmidt became household names and city-wide heroes.
8. The MOVE Bombing (May 13, 1985)
MOVE was a Philadelphia-based anti-establishment political action group that had a history of being targeted by police. A previous incident lead to the death of a Philadelphia police officer and the arrest and conviction of several members of the group.
In early 1985, the group had taken up residence along the 6200 block of Osage Avenue and on May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police arrived in an attempt to clear the building and execute arrest warrants. There was an armed standoff, and police tossed tear gas canisters into the building. Firefighters drenched the building with hoses in an attempt to force members to evacuate. Shots were fired between Police and MOVE members and, in an unprecedented move, the Police Commissioner ordered the building to be bombed. Using a PA State Helicopter, Philadelphia officers dropped two bombs on the rowhome. A fire ignited and spread to 65 nearby houses. The homes were all destroyed, leaving hundreds homeless as firefighters were given the order to let the fire burn.
9. One Liberty opened (August 17, 1987)
This was the first building to breach the gentleman's agreement that no building shall be built higher than City Hall. Though there were plenty of skeptics, it turned out to be a beautiful building, and the Philadelphia Skyline would not look the same without it now. It did, however, mean that no Philadelphia team could win a championship again. Luckily, in 2007, the new tallest building in the city - the Comcast Center - placed a William Penn statue at the top of their spire, ending the Curse of Billy Penn.
10. The Blizzards of 1993 and 1996
Do you remember the two biggest blizzards in modern Philadelphia history? With over 3 feet of snow, each of these storms paralyzed the region for days. Philadelphia kids will always remember their parents having to dig out pathways for them to be able to walk through the snow, as well as the time off from school and sledding down the art museum steps.
11. Pier 34 Collapse (May 18, 2000)
During a party at Club Heat, a 91- year old pier collapsed into the Delaware River, injuring dozens and killing three women. The pier's owners had been ignoring signs of structural issues for months, and the entire tragedy was heavily covered by local news stations looking for answers as to how this could be allowed to happen.
12. The Vet Demolition (March 21, 2004)
In one minute, the historic 32-year-old Veterans Stadium that saw the Phillies win the World Series and was home to the infamous 700 Level of Eagles Fans, was imploded. The site was cleared and Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park has taken its place. Both of the modern, airy, and open stadiums are much less intimidating than the old stadium, though Philadelphians will always have a place in their heart for The Vet.
What moment in Philadelphia history will you remember forever? Tell us in the comments below!