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Lazaretto Station

Lazaretto Station

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  • AmyW AmyW's Avatar 06-23-06 | 01:37 PM
  • The Lazaretto lies on the banks of the Delaware River just west of the Philadelphia Airport [see map]. It tells the story of entry to America from 1643 to 1893.

    The site spans the full area from the Delaware River to Second Street (see picture), and consists of the 18th century main building, the only surviving quarantine station in the nation, a group of other buildings and historic burial grounds.

    As David Burns wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Some have called the Lazaretto Philadelphia's Ellis Island, but from a historical standpoint, it is even rarer and more precious than New York's famous immigrant inspection station. A century older than the Ellis Island facility, the original 1799 Lazaretto structure still stands as a silent monument to the first hundred years of our nation's conflicted history of immigration and public health. Unfortunately, the building is not only abandoned and closed to the public, it also is endangered by development. The bulldozers could be put to work as soon as this summer." [Full article.]

    Before it was a quarantine station, itt was part of the 1643 Swedish settlement, the first permanent European settlement in Pennsylvania. It is also the story of the Lenni Lenape who lived here before the Swedes, and was later a seaplane base in the earliest days of aviation.

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