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Envisioning America

When we think of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, panoramas come to mind. These images of spacious skies and mountain majesty might also serve as the video track to our would-be national anthem: America the Beautiful. Pictures of sparkling rivers, expansive plains, and awesome mountains visited by the explorers are very effective, and perfectly appropriate - except they fail to tell us very much about this expedition, which began 200 years ago this month.

Lewis and Clark went West and replaced speculation and myth with fact and experience. What they saw and learned as they crossed the American continent proved to be wonderful and powerful - more powerful than the myths they replaced. It was a turning point in the nation's shape and psyche.

So let's celebrate what Lewis and Clark witnessed, but let's not lose touch with how it came to have significance. If their expedition discovered America the Beautiful, Philadelphia's scientists enabled Lewis and Clark to know what to look for. But that's not all. Philadelphia's suppliers equipped the Corps of Discovery. And upon its return, Philadelphia's printers and publishers spread the word. [Read more...]


Credits:
Joel Rose, Producer and Editor
Viet Le, Rachael Berenguer and Jennifer Lynn, Associate Producers
Elisabeth Perez-Luna, Executive Producer
Kenneth Finkel, Executive Director, Arts & Culture Service

Funding was provided by The William Penn Foundation.


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Marking Pennsylvania History

ExplorePAHistory.comLewis and Clark
Before Lewis and Clark set out to explore the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Captain Meriwether Lewis spent five weeks in Philadelphia, studying with the best scientific minds in the country. A historical marker celebrating Lewis's visit will be installed in August at the Academy of Natural Sciences on Logan Circle. It's one of many ways that local institutions are marking Philadelphia's role in the Lewis and Clark expedition, as WHYY's Joel Rose reports. [Listen]

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