While surveying the archival collections of small repositories, Celia and I often find some entertaining items that document the more flavorful aspects of everyday life in neighborhoods and towns. Our visit to the Roxborough-Manayunk-Wissahickon Historical Society was no exception.
The Historical Society’s photograph collection, which dates from circa 1900 to 1980, includes several photos of Thomas Welte’s Jungle Bar, an interesting establishment in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood (the bar was located 4544 Ritchie Street) that most assuredly entertained local residents.
The bar was filled with roughly 300 stuffed animals, including rhinos, tigers, buffalo, deer, kangaroos, and rabbits. According to a Manayunk resident, Welte, who seemed to have been quite the prankster, often rigged a small stuffed gorilla that he would drop on new and unsuspecting customers.
The Roxborough-Manayunk-Wissahickon Historical Society’s photograph collection compliments its other holdings that document local people, events, buildings, societies, and churches. The collection also includes maps and legal papers. The entirety of the Society's archival collection, located at the Roxborough branch of the Philadelphia Free Library, dates primarily from the mid-19th century to the present.
Project Director Jack McCarthy with Historical Society volunteer Sylvia Myers
Since the Society's founding in 1967, dedicated volunteers have aggregated, preserved, and made accessible to the public their archival holdings. They continue to engage in multiple outreach projects in an effort to share the history of these three unique Philadelphia neighborhoods with a wider audience.
Reference: Nickels, Thomas. Manayunk. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2001.