The City Tavern | Fright Month

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Kicking off Fright Month this year, we’re looking into the historic City Tavern here in Philadelphia. A location that has a rich history both in Philadelphia and the birth of the United States. View the Tavern’s website for some further information on the matter. 

However, now it seems that some of the Tavern’s old occupants are still lingering around long after their era. Now spirits haunt the Tavern, similar to many locations found in the surrounding area. Locations that shall have focus with future episodes during Fright Month. In conclusion though, welcome to the beginning of Fright Month for 2019!

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Thank you for tuning in for this special little twist on the Realm of Unknown, Fright Month! Throughout the month of October, each day will be looking into one location in or around the City of Philadelphia. Giving you their history and some of the hauntings associated with the location. These will be shorter episodes than normal weekly ones, but I hope you enjoy our journey into these location’s pasts. Check out the Patreon throughout the month for shownote links and resources on each location. As well as some special behind-the-scenes content to celebrate this joyous month of fright.

History & Background

The City Tavern in Philadelphia, built a few years before the US’s conception back in 1773. At this time, Philadelphia was one of the largest cities within North America. The Tavern was to be one of the finest locations to attend while visiting the area. Even the first Continental Congress gathered at the location the following year in 1774. The Delegates from the colonies would oftentimes migrate to the City Tavern in order to relax and unwind after spending the day debating amongst one another.

Many of these men would return the following year, 1775, in order to take part in the Second Continental Congress meeting. Tensions at the moment were at an alltime high, as the American Revolution was in full swing, during this particular meeting Congress set plans into motion about coordinating and managing the ensuing conflict.

Once more the City Tavern played a major role in providing a place to decompress for the Colonial leaders. Despite all the debating and arguing that took place during the time; while within the Tavern a sense of unity was made between men who sought freedom from a common enemy; this sort of drive would ultimately culminate in the creation of the Declaration of Independence, a year later in 1776.

A few years pass, America got its independence, and in 1787 the Grand Convention, later to be known as the Constitutional Convention, would be held within Philadelphia. Its collection of delegates aimed to correct the flaws put in place by the Articles of Confederation; for those not aware, this was essentially the US’s first draft of what would later become the Constitution.The Tavern once more played a familiar role, as a sort of safe haven for these men to congregate to after a day of debating.

This first form of government was not really corrected. Instead the group ended up scraping these blueprints and instituting an all new form of government. This new government, the Constitution, would be ratified by achieving enough state votes in 1788 and officially took effect the next year on March 4, 1789.

As The Years Went By

Unfortunately, over the years Philadelphia no longer stood as the government hub of the states; New York City would play a role here and there and eventually DC came into the picture. The City Tavern began to slowly fall out of the national spotlight; with that, so too did the influence and prestige. Then in 1834, a fire would break out and badly damage the tavern. Several years later in 1854, the Tavern was torn down.

Nearly a century later, in 1946, the property in which the tavern once stood became a national historic park; with this there was an effort made to reproduce and essentially duplicate the original City Tavern. The Tavern’s reproduction would be completed just in time for the county’s 200th birthday. In 1994 the current management of the Tavern would step in. If you were to visit the location, you would be met with a very historical environment. The Tavern aims to achieve that authentic colonial sensation from its past.

City Tavern Ghost Stories

As it goes, this sort of energy and history tends to leave a little bit behind; and the City Tavern is no exception. Many claim there are historical spirits that are still lingering throughout the Tavern. Even more so after the reconstruction it went through. The Tavern once held many of the early nation’s political and military powers; and a lot of the intense energy from their debates sparked something spiritually, or in one cause somewhat physically.

One spirit that lingers long after death, is that of a waiter who worked within the Tavern. Who was shot and killed while working in it. Now there seem to be two versions of the story, or at least two that I could find. The other, has the waiter fell victim to a duel. Whether he was a participant or a victim, is unclear. However, with this story his death is marked as occurring in 1790.

The Tragic Bride & Wedding

The second story, is of one dispute that commonly took place on the location after a long day of debating. A soldier drew his firearm and accidentally set it off, killing the waiter. To this day, his bloody apparition is sometimes spotted. Within the Tavern, he falls to the ground, almost as if he is replaying his death. His spirit is also often blamed for random table objects moving about, as well as the sound of clanging silverware.

The second story links to the fire from earlier in the episode, which damaged the structure back in 1834. During this year, a young bride and her bridal party were preparing for her wedding upstairs in the Tavern.  At some point during the preparations, a candle fell over, and the room very quickly went up in flames. Once again this fire did a number on the Tavern. During the blaze, the bridesmaids and bride were all trapped and lost their lives.

According to a tour guide with Spirits of ‘76 Ghost Tour; the ghost of the young bride is seen at wedding events that occur at the City Tavern to this day. Her spirit seems to directly involve herself with photos of wedding parties. The photographer looks through the lens of their camera, spotting the deceased young bride standing next to the living one. Almost as if she is still trying to attend the wedding she never had. Despite this, there is actually no digital evidence of this spectral bride. Despite appearing in the exact moment of photos, she doesn’t remain in them.


The City Tavern | Wikipedia 
The City Tavern Website 
A Haunted Side Of Philadelphia 
City Tavern Philadelphia Pennsylvania | Haunted Bar Guide


The City Tavern | Fright Month. Produced by Shane Cummings; Audio Editing & Research by Shane Cummings. Intro & Outro music “Creepy Regrets” by AnMo.

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