Robert Venturi

Franklin's town

PHILADELPHIA -- The bedraggled teenager had just arrived in Philadelphia, a young boomtown in 1723 compared with old, established Boston, the city of his birth. He had little money, few clothes and no friends here. As he walked by a young woman standing in her father's doorway, she thought he made "a most awkward, ridiculous appearance."

The 17-year-old wandered the streets, eating a loaf of bread, until he saw a group of well-dressed people walking with purpose. He followed them into the main Quaker meetinghouse and sat down.

"Being very drowsy thro' Labor & want of Rest the preceding Night, I fell fast asleep, and continu'd so till the Meeting broke up,...