Philadelphia’s Phantoms: A Stroll Through History

by Kathryn Jones on November 27th

Philadelphia’s Phantoms: A Stroll Through History

by Kathryn Jones on November 27th

One thing I’ve learned for certain in my time at Arcadia is that people who live in and around Philadelphia love their city. So many people take pride in Philadelphia, and I can understand why. It’s the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection), it has a rich and deep political history, and is well-known around the world for its relevance in the founding of America.  

In just a few hours, I learned more about the city I live near than I had in the entire previous year.

- Kathryn Jones

For our one-year anniversary, my partner surprised me with a little adventure in the city. One highlight was a walking ghost tour around Old City in Philadelphia! It was fitting, as it was October, but I didn’t expect what came along with this experience: an extensive and interesting history lesson.

The tour company we booked is The Original Ghost Tour, which leads excursions all over Pennsylvania and in other states. Our guide held a candle-lit lantern and paraded us through Old City. We walked through Independence Square and Independence Hall, Washington Square, the Physick House, and The Bishop White House. Each stop was filled with compelling stories of ghosts, ghouls, and how these legends came to be.

As we walked from location to location, our tour guide revealed the history of the beautiful city around us, and it wasn’t very pretty. Stories of ghosts were littered with the history of dying soldiers, grave robbers, corrupt doctors, and mass unmarked graves just beneath our feet. In just a few hours, I learned more about the city I live near than I had in the entire previous year.

A side view of the Physick House.

Fright Week— an Arcadia event that highlights ominous events and histories— is hosted every year in late October by the Department of Sociology, Cultural Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, with the help of the Social Justice Society. When I saw that one of the events for 2018’s Fright Week, “Eerie Philly,” was a lecture by the founder of Grim Philly Twilight Tours, I was compelled to check it out.

I had a chance to talk to founder Joe Wojie after the presentation on ghosts, vampires, and witches in the Philadelphia area and beyond. Wojie, a professor of History at Rider University in New Jersey, turned his love for the subject into a business. Grim Philly tours are about history first, creepy stories second. Every tour guide for his company has a degree in History, and many are professors like him, which means there isn’t a strict script and the guides are better able to answer questions. Each tour is both unique and accurate.

In addition to ghost lore, Grim Philly offers tours that focus on witches, vampires, serial killers, and even haunted pub crawls. The tours are advertised as R-rated, because they tend to focus on the crazier side of history.

I highly recommend ghost tours to anyone who wants to have a good time and also learn more about Philadelphia. Both companies offer tours year round.

Happy ghost-hunting!