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Excerpt, "The Arcade Hotel Guide, For The Use Of Strangers Visiting Philadelphia"

If you aren't regularly exploring the Philly detritus available on the Internet Archive, you're missing out on an abundance of historical/cultural information related to the city and its often sordid past. My latest obsession found on the site is the 36-page pamphlet from the Arcade Hotel (a three-story, 116-room getaway formerly located on Chestnut between Sixth and Seventh that came and went long before any of us were born) that instructs visitors of "places of interest, public buildings, churches, places of amusement, and with directions of visiting the same"  that was published in 1856. The work is available in its entirety for your perusal here, with the following excerpt from the end of the brochure being especially noteworthy:

In conclusion, the writer would advise young men, inexperienced in the world, and who are for the first time entering a large City, (and he would not presume to offer advice or counsel to any others) to be cautious in forming acquaintances; to beware of genteelly dressed young men, who seek their friendship and confidence, under pretense of having seen them somewhere before, or who claim to have been acquainted with a brother, a father, or some other relative. These gentry, in nine cases out of ten are sharpers, and seek a victim on whom to play off the “ball game” or the “stuffed pocket book.” If you don’t know what the “ball game” and the “stuffed pocket book” means, inquire of your landlord or some intimate friend, who will enlighten you in regard to both. This advice is deemed necessary, from the fact that the operators of these games find victims nearly every week.

Maybe it's just my twisted worldview, but I find it oddly comforting to know that Philadelphia has always been a place where strangers are looking to pull one over on you...and likely will continue to be long after we have all returned to the ground.


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