Harry Kyriakodis: Generous Historian

Sunday, July 24, 2011

This morning I want to—absolutely need to—stop and thank Harry Kyriakodis—lawyer, librarian, historian, writer, tour creator and giver, and owner of what he estimates is "the largest private collection of books about the City of Brotherly Love."

I knew Harry's name (I suspect that all Philadelphians researching Philadelphia do).  I had received correspondence from him during my involvement with Sam Katz on Sam's film series, Philadelphia: The Great Experiment. But I wasn't so certain that Harry would relish an email during one of the hottest weekends on record from a certain writer of Philadelphia tales.  I mean, with his own book—Philadelphia's Lost Waterfront—just now launching and a series of new Harry tours planned, would Harry really have the time to respond?

Somehow, he found or made the time.  Into my inbox came aerial views and maps, archival photography, notes from tours that Harry has given, URLS that directed me to the very things that I was seeking.  It will take me days to fully absorb the wealth of what is here.  But it took me no time at all to recognize the supreme generosity of this man.

I've just ordered Harry's new book and I'm certain that it's going to teach me many things about that other river—the Delaware.  Here's how the book is described on Amazon:
The wharves and docks of William Penn's city that helped build a nation are gone--lost to the onslaught of more than three hundred years of development. Yet the bygone streets and piers of Philadelphia's central waterfront were once part of the greatest trade center in the American colonies. Local historian Harry Kyriakodis chronicles the history of the city's original port district, from Quaker settlers who first lived in caves along the Delaware and the devastating yellow fever epidemic of 1793 to its heyday as a maritime center and the twentieth century, which saw much of the historic riverfront razed. Join Kyriakodis as he strolls Front Street, Delaware Avenue and Penn's Landing to rediscover the story of Philadelphia's lost waterfront.

About the Author
Harry Kyriakodis is a staff attorney for the American Law Institute and ALI-ABA Continuing Professional Education. He is a producer of teleseminars for ALI-ABA and has been the librarian for both organizations since 1992. A historian and writer about Philadelphia, Harry has collected what is likely the largest private collection of books about the City of Brotherly Love: about two thousand titles, new and old. He is a founding/certified member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides and has lived at Pier 3 Condominium at Penn's Landing since 1997, when and where his fascination with Philadelphia's waterfront district began. Harry regularly gives walking tours and presentations on this and other unique yet unappreciated parts of the city for various groups. He is a graduate of La Salle University (1986) and Temple University School of Law (1993) and was once an officer in the U.S. Army Field Artillery.
Harry, I am grateful.  Like my dear friend Adam Levine, who taught me so much about my river, the Schuylkill, you haven't simply accumulated a wealth of knowledge.  You have made it your business to share it. 


Harry Kyriakodis said...

Hey Beth... Thanks so much for the kind words... Harry

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