|Where are they Now?|
some point one begins to wonder what became of Messrs Humphrey & Martin
when Prohibition was enacted. Did they change their line of
business? What became of their old business premises
at 401-403 North Third Street?
The last question is easier to answer than the first. Philadelphia has an interesting history that goes beyond "1776 and all that". The city grew up on the Delaware river waterfront. That's where the barrels of imported wine and liquors made their way into and out of the city, so it's not surprising that that's where we find many of the old wholesalers.
In the early 1900s, the city was growing at a phenomenal pace, powered by immigration and industry. It's fascinating to watch the liquor dealers move outward as the city grew, hopping from 2 nd St to 15 th St to 40 th street to keep pace with their clientele. City hall was eventually erected 14 blocks west of the city's birth place, leaving the older buildings and warehouses far behind on the riverfront. Much of "Old City" is still intact, home to restaurants and art galleries and to those who serve the tourist industry, so there's a good chance that 401-403 North Third Street has survived.
The main force working against us in finding the old premises is a monstrous and myopic act of destruction committed by city, state and federal planners in the middle of the last century, when much of Front Street and surrounding areas were razed to accommodate Interstate 95. This one act effectively cut the city off from the river and all the history associated with the old waterfront was forever lost.
While it would be easy enough to walk down into Old City with camera in hand, it's even easier to have someone else check it out for us. Typing the address into the appropriate boxes at Mapquest.com brings up a map of the area, and by clicking on the "Aerial Photo" tab, we get an overhead shot that tells a clear story (as of 2004, this service was no longer a feature of Mapquest, Ed).
Had Humphrey & Martin worked in the 200 block of 3 rd Street we would have fared better because here the old buildings remain much as they were at the turn of the century.
How about Humphrey & Martin themselves? Well, that means another trip to the library.
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