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One of the best ways to get a feel for the people and communities is to take advantage of one or more of this year’s local tours. No matter which adventure you decide to embark upon, there is one common denominator: the way to experience and learn about a city is to meet with, talk to, and learn from the people who live and work in the area.

The schedule of tours is provided below, with descriptions and capacity limits. Reservations are required and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Confirmations will be mailed prior to the Annual Meeting. If insufficient enrollment causes cancellation of a tour, fees will be refunded in full. Please see the ASA website for further details about reservations.

Tours 1 & 2: The Barnes Collection
Friday, August 12, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm (Tour 1) ;
or 12:30 – 3:30 pm (Tour 2)
Fee: $20

The Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion, PA, is probably the world’s most important private collection of late nineteenth century and twentieth century French paintings. Dr. Barnes made his extraordinary art collection and his home into the basis of the Foundation, which is housed in Dr. Barnes’s home, designed by the great neo-classic architect Paul Cret. The hanging of the works reflects Dr. Barnes’s theories of aesthetic appreciation; while these theories are not self-evident, the extraordinary number and unparalleled beauty of the paintings and sculptures immediately stun the visitor. Cézanne, Renoir, and Matisse shine above all others, but the collection also includes masterpieces by Manet, Seurat, Modigliani, Soutine, Degas, Rousseau, Picasso, and others. African art and Pennsylvania Dutch crafts grace the rooms, and the gardens and Arboretum are also superb.

The Barnes can only be seen by reservation, and Lower Merion is not that simple to reach. For this reason, the Regional Spotlight Committee considered it a duty to make this extraordinary art experience available to the ASA convention guests. We urge you to reserve this tour (which only includes transportation and reserved entrance to the galleries and gardens) as soon as possible. (Bus/walking tour, limited to 23 participants)

Tour 3: Germantown Avenue
Saturday, August 13, 9:30 am – 12:00 noon
Fee: $20

Leader: Elijah Anderson, University of Pennsylvania

This will be a bus tour down Germantown Avenue, one of Philadelphia’s most historic streets. The avenue is a major Philadelphia artery that dates back to colonial days. Eight and a half miles long and running mostly southeast, it links the northwest suburbs with the heart of inner-city Philadelphia. It traverses a varied social terrain as well. Germantown Avenue provides an excellent cross section of the social ecology of Philadelphia. Along this artery live the well-to-do, the middle classes, the working poor, and the very poor—the diverse segments of urban society. The story of Germantown Avenue can therefore serve in many respects as a metaphor for the whole city. The avenue, we will see, is a natural continuum characterized largely by a code of civility at one end and a code of conduct regulated by the threat of violence—the code of the street—at the other. The tour will end by visiting Philadelphia neighborhoods, now parts of Center City Philadelphia, that were studied by W.E.B. DuBois at the turn of the last century. (Bus tour, limited to 30 participants)

Tour 4: The Eastern Penitentiary, a Baseball Field, and an Art Collection: Conflict, Control and Resolution in Urban Life (
Saturday, August 13, 3:00 – 5:00 pm
Fee: $24

Leader: Sherri Grasmuck, Temple University

A bus will take us from the hotel, down the magnificent Parkway, toward the Eastern Penitentiary, a foremost example of radial jail, focus of Tocqueville’s visit in the early nineteenth century. Dr. Grasmuck will narrate the buildings of the Parkway as we descend it but also, and above all, recent conflicts that have been centered on the avenue and involved issues of gentrification and city/suburbs relations. The guided visit of the penitentiary, a unique Philadelphia monument will take one hour. If possible, we shall contemplate the sunset on the Schuykill on our way back to the hotels. (Bus/walking tour, limited to 30 participants)

Tour 5: Reflections of Philadelphia’s History in its Built Environment
Sunday, August 14, 9:30 am – 12:00 noon
Fee: $20

Leader: David Elesh, Temple University

Philadelphia’s history is reflected in its physical environment. Its structures and streets express its origins as a colonial walking city, its rise to 19th and early 20th century prominence as an industrial city, and its 21st century efforts to become a national center for higher education and medical services. This tour through residential, commercial, and industrial neighborhoods shows how the physical environment symbolizes changing economic objectives, socioeconomic status, tastes, and technologies, and shapes recent and current redevelopment. We will tour areas that succeeded in redeveloping, areas that are currently redeveloping, and areas that failed to redevelop—asking how their physical structures constrain their current characteristics and future possibilities. The areas we will visit include the American Street Corridor, a failed effort to create a suburban manufacturing district within a 19th industrial neighborhood; the Penn area, home to the university’s continuing effort to remake its surroundings; and Manayunk, an upscale commercial and residential neighborhood created from a 19th century manufacturing area that slowly went downhill for a century until reinvented in the 1980s. (Bus tour, limited to 30 participants)

Tour 6: Society Hill and Independence National Park: A Stroll for Sociologists
Sunday, August 14, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon
Fee: $5

Leader: George Dowdall, St. Joseph’s University

Philadelphians call their downtown “Center City.” It is the third-largest residential downtown in the US, after New York and Chicago, and during the past decade has been booming. This tour, led by a Center City sociologist, highlights two of the most sociologically interesting parts of its life. We begin at the Independence National Park Visitors Center, itself a short walk from the ASA Convention Hotel. We walk past Independence Hall, where America’s national political institutions were founded. But we also walk past some of the places where American civil society was founded or shaped, including the first learned society, the first jail, the first general hospital, and the first institution to care for the mentally ill. A short distance away is the site where W.E.B. DuBois lived and gathered his insights for The Philadelphia Negro. Nearby is the country’s first urban playground, and near it the Mother Bethel AME Church, the oldest parcel of land owned by African Americans in the US. We walk on cobblestone streets and through hidden pathways in Society Hill, the city’s most historic residential neighborhood—one of the first and probably the most successful example of urban renovation in America. The tour ends with instructions on how to order an authentic Philly cheesesteak at the best purveyor on lively South Street (“Where do all the hippies meet?” as they sang in the 60’s, and once the center of the Philadelphia Jewish community); veggie alternatives are available for the risk-aversive. (Walking tour, limited to 40 participants)

Tour 7: The Philadelphia Main Line
Sunday, August 14, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Fee: $20

Leader: Victor Lidz, Drexel University

The Philadelphia Main Line is the country’s first modern suburb, developed in the latter part of the 19th century by the Pennsylvania Railroad, first as a series of elegant, upper class, summer vacation communities, then as commuter suburbs. Land that had earlier been devoted to farming and industry (mills and foundries) was reorganized into elegant country estates with nearby villages as commercial centers and places of residence for the working and middle classes. Over time the communities have become multi-class commuting suburbs anchored by historic institutions serving the region, all superimposed over landscapes that often are exceptionally beautiful while also readily accessible to Philadelphia. The tour will drive by such institutions as Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges, the nation’s first shopping center at Suburban Square, the old working class suburb of Narberth, some of the beautiful estates of Bryn Mawr, Gladwyne, and Villanova, and some of the public parks of the area. The tour will examine the area’s visible history of transformations: old mill sites, streams, and ponds; great 19th and early 20th century estates of the Philadelphia upper class, old estates divided into middle class developments, and the now rapidly growing phenomenon of expensive “McMansions”. (Bus tour, limited to 30 participants)

Tour 8: Philadelphia Murals
Monday, August 15, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon
Fee: $20

Since its inception in 1984, the Mural Arts Program has completed more murals than any other public art program in the nation. Our murals—historical scenes and allegories, landscapes, abstractions, and portraits of community heroes—are rightly famous for their high quality and their numbers. Philadelphia has about 2,500 indoor and outdoor murals, blooming on formerly graffiti-scarred walls, above vacant lots, and in half-abandoned streets. This effort of bringing art to the cityscape has far reaching effects. They grace a beautiful but often impoverished city, and they create a sense of community, as artists and community members develop relationships that will turn their artistic visions into reality. Visiting the murals with the Mural Arts Program will not only touch and delight you, but show you the many faces of this city, taking you across many neighborhoods you would not otherwise visit.

The Mural Arts Program also works to involve the city’s residents in the creative process, offering art education programs at recreation centers, homeless shelters, and other sites throughout Philadelphia. (Bus tour, limited to 40 participants)

Tour 9: The Seventh Ward
Tuesday, August 16, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon
Fee: $5

Leader: Reynolds Farley, University o f Michigan

W.E.B. DuBois’ study of Philadelphia initiated empirical investigations of American cities. His Seventh Ward is a fascinating area, since when he described it in 1897, a large segment of it was a Negro slum with much crime. Today it is a very prosperous and attractive, even elegant, urban neighborhood with many of the most expensive homes to be found in Philadelphia.

The walking tour consists of four miles of historic venues, neighborhoods and streets, and takes approximately two hours. Highlights include the Clinton Street Historic District, the home of Susan Wharton, and the Mother Bethel African Methodist Church. (Walking tour, limited to 40 participants)