September 12, 1849 (Wednesday)

To-day the Annual Horticultural Exhibition commenced.  Went to it this evening.  As usual it is a very handsome affair—The flowers and fruits are splendid.  The spacious saloons were crowded with the young and beautiful—almost bewildering.

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society was founded in 1827 with 53 members and continues today, now boasting some 17,000 members. The PHS held their first annual exhibition in 1829. Nathan attended the twenty-first incarnation which was held at the Chinese Museum (also known as the Philadelphia Museum) and ran for three consecutive days from 10 A. M. to 10 P. M.

The leading gardeners and farmers of the area participated and competed for top honors.  The variety of flora was truly astounding.  There were many varieties of roses, European olive trees, Mountain Sweet Water Melons, “remarkably fine” grapes, eighty-one varieties of foreign pears, many, many varieties of apples (one orchardist brought sixty-eight named varieties while another brought ninety-three), among many other floral delectations.

In a weak attempt at crowd control or perhaps some reverse psychology, the Inquirer advised, “The best time for a visit is before sun-down, for during the evenings we may fairly infer that the saloons [i.e., the exhibition galleries] thronged with the beauty, taste, and fashion of our city.”  We can fairly infer that Nathan went after sun-down, regardless of his schedule.

Sources:

“Pennsylvania Horticultural Exhibition.” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 10 and September 12, 1849.

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