- Jeweler's Row
This map shows the location of Barsky Diamonds. We are located on Sansom St. near Washington Square. Follow Walnut St. to 7th St. and you will find our store!
A Complete History
This area, a well known and historic stretch of buildings between 702-710 Sansom Street - has been in the news quite a bit lately thanks to proposed plans to build a new residential tower on the land. Whatever comes from the current discussions around that property, Jeweler’s Row will remain an area with a rich history.
In the last decade of the 18th century the area was purchased by one of the Founding Fathers - Robert Morris. After the Revolutionary War, Morris became the largest private landowner in the country. In 1794 he hired a French architect and civil engineer by the name of Pierre Charles L’Enfant to design and build a mansion on the land in Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, the mansion was never completed. After losing all of his money during the Panic of 1796-1797, Morris was jailed due to his inability to pay his debts. Building on the mansion ceased, and the home was referred to afterward as “Morris’s Folly”.
The property went to a Sheriff’s sale and was purchased by land developer William Sansom. Sansom’s goal was to build London style row homes on the property, leveraging how Philadelphia divided land into long, narrow parcels.
In addition to hiring controversial Scottish architect Thomas Carstairs, Sansom paved the road between Walnut and Chestnut Streets, seeing this as a selling point for future home buyers. Having payed for the paving out of his own pocket, Sansom of course named the street after himself.
First, Printer's Row
The area was residential for roughly the first 50 years after the homes were built. But in the 1850s, the area began to transition from residential to industrial and commercial. Some of the homes that were part of Carstairs Row were converted for commercial purposes, but many were torn down.
Many of the parcels were purchased by Henry C. Lea, a political and publishing giant at the time. One of the buildings he had rebuilt and rented out to an electrotype foundry. But beginning in 1865 his other property became the location of his medical publishing company. Later to become the largest publisher of medical, scientific and surgical texts in the world, Lea published the American version of Gray’s Anatomy from the location.
In addition to Lea’s business, other buildings were also occupied by publishers. The Irish Catholic Benevolent Union Journal and the arts journal The Philadelphia Evening Programme were also located on Sansom Street.
The Final Change
The transition from printers to jewelers occurred right around the beginning of the 20th century. The proximity made sense - the jewelers needed pieces engraved, and the printers could do the work. Sometimes the jewelers would borrow equipment from their printer neighbors and do the engraving themselves. While there continued to be printers located along the street, by 1920 this section of Sansom was known by its modern day name.
Regardless of the eventual fate of the buildings currently located on Sansom Street, change and evolution have always been part of the long and storied history of what we now call home!
5 Great Valentine’s Day Dates in Philadelphia
Romantic love. That’s what Valentine’s Day started as a celebration of in the Middle Ages. And although it’s evolved to include friends, family and kids, the day still largely revolves around that original concept of romance.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to spend time with your significant other this Valentine’s day, the good news is that Philadelphia has plenty of places for you to make it a memorable celebration, no matter what style of date you want to plan.
Looking for Date Ideas Nearby? Check These Out
The Obvious Date: Visiting and taking a photo in front of Robert Indiana’s famous Love statue is an obvious, but still wonderful, date for Valentine’s Day. Butyou should note – Indiana’s statute, normally homed in John F. Kennedy Plaza, will be in Dilworth Park until spring of 2017. Dilworth Park is located across the street from John F. Kennedy Plaza.
The Date with a View: Consider starting your plans in the afternoon so that you and your date can take advantage of the City Hall Observation Deck. Take an elevator ride up to get a panoramic view of Philadelphia from 548 feet up on the city’s highest open-air observation deck. Get tickets in advance, or at theCity Hall Visitor’s Center.
The Edgy Date: Looking to do something a little different this Valentine’s Day? Consider visiting someplace like the Aston Cigar Bar. Ashton’s has over 200 different cigars, more than 380 different whiskeys and a number of signature cocktails. Cozy up on one of their leather couches and relax with a cocktail before dinner or for an after-dinner drink.
The Sweet Date: The Dream Garden, a Tiffany mural based on a Maxfield Parrish landscape, took over 6 months to install. At 49 feet long and 15 feet tall, the mural, located east of the Curtis Center, is like stepping into a fairy garden. Made of more than 100,000 pieces of glass, The Dream Garden is the second largest glass mural in the country. Take your loved one to see this dreamy and otherworldly art installation for a historic and beautiful Valentine’s Day stop.
The Truly Romantic Date: A Civil War memorial may not seem like a romantic spot, but there is a special feature of the Smith Memorial in Fairmont Park that makes it a common place for first kisses. Called the Whispering Benches, they are located on either end of the memorial. Someone whispering at one bench can be heard by their companion seated on the other, thanks to the curved wall of the memorial. If you’re thinking of making a Valentine’s Day proposal, the Whispering Benches make a unique and romantic way to ask the big question.
Visit Barsky Diamonds for more great gift ideas!