A History of Squirrels in Philadelphia
These days, many people think of Philadelphia's squirrels as an annoyance. Daring, far from shy, and hungry for anything you happen to be eating, the gray squirrels in Logan Square will practically sit in your lap.
What many don't know is that the presence of squirrels in Philadelphia's parks and squares is not an accident. In America's early days, there weren't any squirrels dashing across Philadelphia's rooftops, because they weren't native to urban areas. The introduction of squirrels to America's cities was deliberate - and Philadelphia was likely the first city to receive them.
According to the University of Penn's Etienne Benson, prior to the 1850's, there weren't any squirrels in any city in America. The shy creature stuck to woodlands and urban fringes, rarely venturing into densely settled areas. In fact, the only gray squirrels to be found in cities were pets, like Benjamin Franklin's famous pet squirrel, Mungo. In 1856, according to a report in the New-York Daily Times, the escape of a pet squirrel into a city park drew a crowd of hundreds.
It's hard to imagine that kind of commotion rising up today over something so mundane as a squirrel, but that's because, in 1847, three squirrels were released in Philadelphia's Franklin Square. The creatures were provided with food and boxes for nesting, and by 1853, there were squirrels flitting up trees in Independence, Walnut Street, and Logan Squares.
In 1857, a visitor to Philadelphia commented that the city's squirrels were "so tame that they will come and take nuts out of one's hand", adding that he found them so vibrant "it was a wonder that they are not in public parks of all great cities." The popularity of the city's new squirrels led Boston, and New Haven, Connecticut, to follow Philadelphia's example.
Now that squirrels are here, we're just going to have to deal with them - and maybe try to appreciate them like the early Philadelphians did. If you want to learn more about squirrels, check out our blog post that outlines some basic squirrel facts!
And if you are suffering from a Philadelphia squirrel infestation, you know who to call! We're experts in getting squirrels out of your attics - and doing exclusion construction so they can't come back. So when you hear weird scratching sounds from above... our number is (215) 796-5177!
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