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Philadelphia’s National Disgrace

By Wyatt Earp | May 24, 2010

As much as I would like to believe otherwise, Philadelphia will forever be a second-class city. Stories like this one will see to that.

The old warship has been part of Philadelphia’s waterfront for 50 years and left lasting impressions on thousands of visitors who heard gripping stories of its role in the Spanish-American War.

Now the Olympia – the last surviving vessel from that 1898 conflict – could face an ignoble end as an artificial reef off Cape May if a new benefactor cannot be found.

The Independence Seaport Museum and the Navy have already checked with officials of New Jersey’s Artificial Reef Program on the possibility of sinking the ship, once a source of national pride.

“Another option would be scrapping Olympia,” said James McLane, interim president of the museum, which owns the ship and is adjacent to it at Penn’s Landing. “But the Navy has told us that ‘reefing’ is better because it would allow divers to go down on it and would preserve Olympia.”

While you’re at it, you might as well scrap the city, too . . .

The museum can no longer afford the ship’s upkeep, McLane said. At least $20 million is needed to tow, restore, interpret, and endow the deteriorating vessel. The ship will be open until the end of September, then closed while its future is determined, McLane said.

I guess they’ll just let it sit there and rot. Not that anyone cares. It’s not like the cruiser has an awe-inspiring history:

The Olympia was authorized in 1888 and commissioned in 1895. The state-of-the-art vessel led five other U.S. warships into Manila Bay in the Philippines on May 1, 1898, and fired shots in a battle to wrest control of that country from the Spanish.

Navy Commodore George Dewey stood on the bridge of the ship and uttered the famous words: “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.”

Under Dewey’s command, the U.S. fleet destroyed 10 Spanish cruisers and gunboats in hours without losing an American life. The Olympia spent World War I in the Atlantic Ocean, and brought remains of the Unknown Soldier home from France in 1921.

If we lose the Olympia, every person in this city should be ashamed of themselves. Letting a piece of history slip away for nothing? It’s a damned disgrace.

Captain America has his take on the subject here.

Topics: Philly | 17 Comments »

17 Responses to “Philadelphia’s National Disgrace”

  1. Dannytheman Says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 9:12 am

    I am not a history buff and I say sink her. I spent enough time on ships/boats.

  2. AJ Lynch Says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 9:18 am

    You are suggesting we could maybe find the $20 Million by :
    a- withholding free breakfasts and lunches from some of of the really fat school kids.
    b- eliminating 4 or 5 of the 17 useless city council seats.
    c- trying to collect some of that alleged $1 Billion in bail bond money.
    d- trying to collect some of the millions in unpaid, overdue real estate taxes.
    e- syncing up city and state election cycles with the federal elections. Currently, we elect mayors and the governors in odd years and that costs big bucks. Of course, that enables Fat Eddie to put his big bond issues on the primary ballot when very few people even vote.

  3. Jon Brooks Says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Stoke up her boilers again, set sail and attack Spain again.
    She could shell those towns that post those no swimsuits
    signs, and nothing gets a countrys economy stirred like a hot shootin’ war, thus sparing Spain the same fate as Greece. Just imagine sitting on a white sand beach sipping your Pina Colada when the lifeguard stands up with his bullhorn and yells..INCOMING!!

  4. Bob G. Says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 10:32 am

    AJ makes some damn good points…
    When Philly turned itself over to a “welfare state”, it started the decline we see today.
    And that began over 40 years ago.

    Philly never really fought to keep the manufacturing jobs that made the city a WORLD-CLASS producer of goods since the industrial revolution.
    Hell, even Schmidt’s brewery closed on Girard Av.
    (tiger head ale…damn good)

    One by one the city “leaders” allowed business after business to leave…
    Gee, maybe that’s why the King of Prussia area is so damn thriving..’ya think?

    Wonder how many decent people can walk the downtown streets at night NOW, like we used to be ABLE to do in decades past, hmm?

    Oh, but that was a time when we HAD a real downtown, and not a bunch of places for lazy-asses to hang at all damn day while waiting for some “gub-ment” cheese…!

    But I digress…
    I miss *MY* Philly…as do many of you, I’d wager.

  5. AJ Lynch Says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 11:32 am


    I moved to the burbs in the 90′s. I have considered moving back to the downtown but the city wage tax and the pissy smell of the sidewalks tells me to stay out.

  6. proof Says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Only $20 Mil? Obama probably spent that wining and dining his buddy Calderon. Ask the Feds to cover the costs. It is a national treasure. Maybe Obama could just skip a couple of “date nights” and cover it?

  7. Smite A. Hippie Says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I’m with Jon – recommission her, load up the shells, set sail for Spain and finish the job!

  8. Fenway_Nation Says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    If the Olympia isn’t safe from scrapping or being sunk as an artificial reef, I worry about the future of some of the steam locomotives that have been or are in the process of being restored.

  9. Ferrell Gummitt Says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Question: How does “reefing” better preserve the ship if it becomes the home for the local lobsters, sharks and Nemo?

    Second and I apaologize for the diversion I know that hockey is that your’s or Robbie over at “Just a Normal Chick” favorite sport but, do you think the Flyers can take one more from the Habs and so that we can get the Stanley Cup finals going here?

  10. Ferrell Gummitt Says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Finally, what do I get for being the 1,004,160th visitor at the site?

  11. Travesty | Snowflakes in Hell Says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    [...] very distraught to hear that it’s time is very likely coming to and end because after decades of improper care, the Independence Seaport Museum can not afford the 20 [...]

  12. Rick Says:
    May 24th, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    What a stinking shame

  13. Wyatt Earp Says:
    May 25th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Danny – Big mistake. You don’t sink the last surviving warship from the Spanish-American War.

    AJ – Yeah, we simply don’t have the money . . .

    Jon – I say we send her to Korea to straighten the NorKs out.

    Bob G – This is the result of 60 years of uninterrupted Democrat rule.

    Proof – Yeah, but those state dinners are important.

    Smite – Or anchor it in the Persian Gulf.

    Fenway_Nation – If they are anywhere near this despicable town, say goodbye.

    Ferrell – It preserves it for the tourists, who can dive on the wreck and . . . Oh, never mind.

  14. Bitter American Says:
    May 25th, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    That’s why I’m moving outta town ASAP.

    My friends and I had memberships to the Seaport Museum, primarily for the Fourth of July priviledges, but hell, all of Penn’s Landing turned into such a third-world bazaar that we said “screw it” and stopped going. This is going to be icing on that cake.

  15. Ingineer66 Says:
    May 25th, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Wow that is a shame that she will probably be sunk. I am with AJ, maybe we could slow down or stop some of the many programs to prop up the people that won’t get off their asses and spend some money on stuff that is important.
    ps I built a model of the Olympia when I was a kid. I didn’t even know she was still afloat somewhere.

  16. Why Independence Seaport Museum Can’t Raise the Money | Snowflakes in Hell Says:
    May 27th, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    [...] once again of saving the Olympia, I found this explanation for why they might have difficulty raising the money to save this [...]

  17. Random notes: August 20, 2010. « Whipped Cream Difficulties Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 8:40 am

    [...] Various bloggers were on this story months ago. [...]