Theophilus Van Kannel of Philadelphia patented a "storm door structure" on Aug. 7, 1888, which consisted of circular or revolving doors that rotated when a pedestrian passed through them.

Source: Temple Review, Spring 1991

Native Americans were the first to brew root or herb beer, but the product we know today as root beer was invented by Charles E. Hires, a Philadelphia druggist. Hires first manufactured it in 1866, and it was dispensed at the 1876 Centennial Exposition.

Source: Temple Review, Spring 1991, p. 23

The notion of putting matches in small folding books was patented by Joshua Pusey, of Lima, Pa., in 1892.

Source: Temple Review, Spring 1991

The Slinky was invented in Hollidaysburg, Pa. by the James family.

Source: Phila. Inquirer, 3/20/90

David and Benjamin Rittenhouse of Philadelphia were the first to make these instruments in America. David was the grandson of William Rittenhouse, and was born near his grandfather's paper mill in 1732.

Source: Welcomat 7/10/91 )( Klein. Fairmount Park. 1974, p.123.

The first public telephone demonstration was in Philadelphia at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. It later traveled as part of the "America's Smithsonian 150th" anniversary exhibition.

Source: timeline. Retrieved from

John M. Keely invented the "Keely Motor" which is a fraudulent device. He claimed that he had discovered a wonderful new physical force, and he applied this force to the "Keely Motor" during the post-Civil War era. He never revealed how the devise worked, and he never divulged the nature of his own Keely Motor Company, but many Philadelphians invested in his company. Addison B. Burk, president of the Spring Garden Institute, and E.A. Scott, a consulting engineer, finally proved that the "Keely Motor" was a fraud.

Source: Philadelphia: The Fabulous City of Firsts, 1976, p.13, G. Don Fairbairn, 974.81 F15p

Among the mechanical devices were typewriters, electric lamps, the Corliss Steam Engine , which provided power for the Exhibition, and Alexander Graham Bell's invention, which he publicly demonstrated for the first time, the telephone.

Source: tours. Retrieved from

Bubble gum was developed in 1928 in Philadelphia by Walter Diemer. The Frank H. Fleer Chewing Gum Co., which produced it, called it Dubble Bubble Gum.

Source: Phila. Daily News 06/23/99, p. 35

Brothers E. Irvine and Clarence Scott invented the roll of toilet paper in 1879.

Source: Temple Review, Spring 1991, p.24.

Charles B. Darrow invented it in the early 1930's. Darrow, of Germantown, sold some of the first sets through Wanamaker's. Monopoly's game board recreates the Atlantic City of the 1930s and over 100 million have sold worldwide.

Source: Fischer. Fast Answers to Common Questions. N.D., p.335.

In the early twentieth century Italian Americans shipyard workers on Hog Island, Philadelphia were called Hoggies. They lunched on sandwiches consisting of a long roll piled with meats and cheeses which eventually adopted a variation of their name.

Source: DeLean, Clark. Pennsylvania Curiosities. Guiford, Conn: Globe Pequot Press, 2001. 974.8 P3845C

In the early nineteenth century Dr. Philip Syng Physick and John Hart of Philadelphia invented carbonated water in an attempt to simulate water from natural springs. In 1807, Philadelphian pharmacist Townsend Speakman sold fruit juice and carbonated water, inventing the first soft drink. In 1875, Charles Elmer Hires invented root beer by mixing sarsaparilla, sassafras, wild cherry, wintergreen, ginger, and alcohol. He sold it at his drug store in Philadelphia.

Source: Booker, Janice L. Philly Firsts. Philadelphia: Camino Books, Inc. pp. 104-05. 974.811 B644P