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Neighborhood History

Russell Conwell

Temple's first president, Russell Conwell, was pastor of Grace Baptist Church and founder of Temple College. The temporary Board of Trustees elected him president of the faculty October 14, 1887, and he served until December 6, 1925, the date of his death. 

Russell Conwell’s famous “Acres of Diamonds” speech was a morality tale of the value of education, devotion to the Protestant ethic and importance of family and community service.

Conwell’s message had a larger purpose transcending contemporary wisdom. The pathway to personal success, he stressed, was largely education. Educated persons, in turn, were obligated to serve the less fortunate and to help them realize their full potential. Further, it was the duty of all to meet the needs of the community. “We must know what the world needs first,” said Conwell, “and then invest ourselves to supply that need, and success is almost certain.” To meet those needs Conwell initially used his church to reach out to all peoples of North Philadelphia—many of them poor and many of them recent immigrants—offering spiritual sustenance, recreation, social life, economic assistance and instruction in basic life skills. Gradually he channeled his energies into meeting what he considered the foremost of those needs, namely education.

Read Conwell’s Famous “Acres of Diamonds” Speech

Neighborhood History

The Temple-area neighborhoods have a great deal of offerings for the surrounding area. From schools to community gardens, to murals, there are great sites to see and ways to engage with the local area.

Wagner Free Institute of Science

A natural history museum located near Temple University. It was founded in 1855 by William Wagner, a notable merchant, philanthropist, and gentleman scientist of the time, who sought to offer free educational courses to all who would seek to learn about the natural world. 

Edgar Allen Poe Site

Not far from campus is The Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site. Located in his residence here in Philadelphia, this was the site where many of his famous writings were written.

Mural Arts Program

There are many murals, part of the MuralArtsProgram, located in the North Philadelphia community. Find them here:

Philadelphia Free Library

There are 13 branches of the Philadelphia Free Library located in North Philadelphia.

Habitat For Humanities Restore

The ReStore is a second-hand retail outlet where quality donated home furnishings, furniture, and building materials are sold to the public at a fraction of the original cost, with all revenue going directly back into Habitat Philadelphia’s Homebuilding and Weatherization & Home Repair Programs. 

Philadelphia Urban Creators

The Philadelphia Urban Creators (PUC) are a group of young people who are building relationships with Philadelphia communities in order to develop our neighborhoods sustainably, and equitably, from the ground up.

Girard College Founder’s Hall Museum Collections

The Stephen Girard Collection is Philadelphia's great intact single-owner collection from the early national period. These original items (1780-1830), including furniture, silver, paintings, ceramics and textiles, were owned and used by Stephen Girard in his Philadelphia townhouse at 23 North Water Street.