First Podcast Tour of the African American Experience in Philadelphia Debuts in Time for Black History Month

First Podcast Tour of the African American Experience in Philadelphia Debuts in Time for Black History Month

What African American architect helped design the famed Philadelphia Museum of Art? Which Philadelphia church uses art as a sanctuary for its community? Where in Philadelphia can you find Oprah Winfrey's favorite macaroni and cheese? Answers to these questions and many others are revealed on Philly Noir, the latest podcast tour on, a new site by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation featuring free dynamically mapped and completely customizable sound-seeing tours of Philadelphia. The fifth installment in the podcast series, Philly Noir concentrates on African American culture and its role in the city's past, present and future.

The tour is a fusion of Philly's historic events, spiritual reflections, visual arts, soulful rhythms, legendary athletics and Afro-centric cuisine. Each of the 11 segments talks about a local venue that plays a pivotal part in the combined experience that makes up Philadelphia's authentic flavor. The tour features distinctive and varied voices of business owners, pastors, musicians and everyday, in-the-know residents.

Here's a look at some of the stops on the tour:

  • The Sound of Philadelphia - Anyone who has danced to "Love Train" by the O'Jays knows Gamble and Huff. Their music has transcended cultural barriers, generational gaps and evolved into what is now called the Philadelphia Sound.    
  • Delilah's at the Terminal - Fried catfish, cauligreens and macaroni and cheese (voted #1 by Oprah Winfrey) are just some of the options served at Delilah's in the Reading Terminal Market. Using fresh foods and simple ingredients, all dishes are prepared from scratch.    
  • Steal Away to Freedom - The Johnson family was actively involved in supporting enslaved Africans seeking freedom. Their house, now the Johnson House Historic Site, became a safe shelter and a crucial stop on the Underground Railroad. Just last year, a hatch door was discovered in the third floor attic where runaway slaves often escaped to elude bounty hunters.    
  • Images of Hope - Artist Parris Stancell involves the community in part of the creative process when painting murals in many neighborhoods as part of the city's Mural Arts Program. Powerful images of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X and colorful landscapes become inspirational for residents and often become catalysts for change.    
  • King of the Ring - The Blue Horizon is the last boxing venue of its kind in the world. In a male-dominated sport, CEO Vernoca L. Michael became the first African American female boxing promoter. More than 42 world champions have boxed at the legendary venue, including Joe Frazer. It is said that one of Muhammad Ali's biggest regrets is that he didn't get to fight at the Blue Horizon.     
  • Sanctuary of the Soul - From the 1950s to the present day, the Church of the Advocate's mission has been to offer spiritual guidance and provide a welcoming haven and shelter to people in need. In the 60s and 70s, the church played an integral role in the Civil Rights Movement by providing a place where groups like the Black Panther Party could meet and freely express their views.

About The Technology

SoundAboutPhilly's™ dynamic mapping capabilities are another unique feature of the project. The Web site integrates the audio with Google Maps to help people customize a map to match their selected tour, print it out and take it with them as they explore the city.

The Web site will grow over time as a living space for oral information about the city and region, where downloadable tours will live in the future. And, as Philadelphia becomes an increasingly wireless city, the audio tours will be accessible to anyone in the city with a wireless Internet connection.

Listeners can hear any tour directly on, download a tour or specific segments to their iTunes or other audio players or sign up for an RSS feed to receive a new tour each time one is uploaded to the Web site.

The Pew Charitable Trusts serves the public interest by providing information, advancing policy solutions and supporting civic life. The Trusts will invest $248 million in fiscal year 2007 to provide organizations and citizens with fact-based research and practical solutions for challenging issues.

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside™ a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region's vitality. For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit or call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Independence National Historical Park, at (800) 537-7676.