We invited Lee T. Pearcy of Bryn Mawr College’s Department of Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies, to discuss the Classicizing Philadelphia project.
One way to think about America’s relationship with ancient Greece and Rome is to imagine a dialogue. Listen carefully as you wander around Philadelphia. You may be able to hear the conversation. Girard College emulates the Parthenon. The Art Museum, with its Corinthian porticoes and classical pediments, talks to Rome, and the Doric Waterworks below it talks to Greece. At the Arch Street Theater in 1858, Ernst Legouvé’s Medea talked to Euripides, and in the 2006 Mummers’ Parade, the Aqua String Band consulted Rome before it went “Roman Up Broad.” For three hundred years, Philadelphia has generated part of its own special look and feel, its culture, through a conversation with ancient Greece and Rome.