My Travel Memories: The Bourse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is home to a lot of firsts for the United States.  It was the location of the first brick house built in North America, it was the first home for the Quaker and Presbyterian denominations, it was the site of the first public library (which was founded by Benjamin Franklin), it was where the first American flag was made, and it was, of course, the first capital of the United States.

Philadelphia was also home to the first commodities exchange in the United States. A commodities exchange is kind of like a stock exchange, except instead of ownership in companies, commodities exchanges are a place where you buy and sell things. These things have traditionally been agricultural in nature, coffee, pork bellies, and so forth, but they can also be industrial, such as oil and metal. As an aside, Chicago has a famous commodities exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the Board of Trade building is just lovely. Remind me to get some pictures while I’m in Chicago in August.

But I digress. The first commodities exchange in the United States, which, as I said before, was in Philadelphia, was known as the Bourse. The Bourse was founded in 1891 and the building (the first steel-framed building ever constructed) was finished in 1895. After the exchange went out of business in the 1960s, the building was converted into office space, and then the first floors were turned into a shopping mall.

The Bourse, Philadelphia
The Bourse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1988

I’m not even sure why we went in, but it was a nice place to sit down and get our bearings. I think we got something to eat there, but cannot be sure. They were having a display of costumes from that year’s Mummer’s Parade (the oldest folk festival in the United States), and my mom took some pictures of the interior, but they all turned out really dark and I don’t have the time or energy to make them look professional, so above is a picture showing more or less what the front of the building looks like.

I also didn’t remember, until my 2015 visit, that the Bourse was right there on Independence Mall, down the street from Independence Hall (it’s almost like poetry!) and across from where the Liberty Bell Center is now (more-or-less kitty-corner from where the Liberty Bell Pavilion was back in 1988).

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