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Philadelphia... Here I Come!
by Nicki Marian

The year was 1944. A train ... was it the Zephyr? ... whooshed me from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Philadelphia ... a stepping-stone to my becoming an actress on Broadway!

A cab picked me up at the train station and deposited me at The Bellevue Stratford Hotel on Broad and Walnut Streets. There is a dim recollection of ordering a club sandwich from room service.

Obviously, it was impractical to stay at the hotel while seeking stardom via The Jasper Deeter Theatre School. I found an apartment on the 3rd floor of a brownstone building overlooking Rittenhouse Square.

Wait! Even though my stay in Philadelphia was less than a year, the hotel's history intrigued me. In 1976, after an American Legion Convention, it was struck by "The Legionnaire's Disease". Some thirty attendees died and about 200 people became ill from this "unknown cause". The hotel was shut down.

Later, it came to life as The Bellevue Hotel - the most lavish of all hotels in Philadelphia. The original grand-opening had been in 1904 and, supposedly, it still has the light fixtures designed by Thomas Edison. To date, it remains on Broad and Walnut Streets and is "The Park Hyatt at the Bellevue".

However, my 1944 memories recall only a comfortable room and a club sandwich.

Onward to "The John Wanamaker House", Rittenhouse Square, my short-lived acting career at the Hedgerow Theatre, a Justice of the Peace, Who Was This John Wana-Whatever?... and, later, SO LONG PHILLY during a blizzard!

About This Webpage

Nicki emailed PhilaNet.com asking for information on Center City Philadelphia. When she found out that one of our film crew frequents Rittenhouse Square, she asked if we might take a few photos for her. Her enthusiasm caught on, and before we knew it, an entire multimedia project had sprung up around it.

So, we took pictures... and videos. In exchange, we asked Nicki to tell us her story. She's done a great job, but still needs your help. If you can provide us with any historic information about Center City Philadephia, please enter it in the form below. Of particular interest are: "The John Wanamaker House" (a brownstone on Rittenhouse Square), Rittenhouse Square, and The Bellevue Hotel.

ps. The Bellevue still has a wonderful restaurant, Founders Atop The Bellevue. It is a great place to eat before going to the Academy Of Music.

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