Proposed historical leap

A plaque at the site

Over the years New Philadelphia is gaining steam in the historical field. Tuesday Congressman Aaron Shock proposed legislation to further its landmark in Pike County.

144 lots used to lay in this square quarter mile field in Pike County called New Philadelphia. New Philadelphia was the first town planned and legally registered by a freed slave, Frank McWorter.

"The biggest significance is that he, Frank McWorter, did it right. He got it surveyed laid out and plotted in perfect squares and blocks," President of the New Philadelphia Association Philip Bradshaw said.

The town was slowly growing but met its demise when the first railroad built through Pike County bypassed New Philadelphia and instead ran through nearby Barry.

By the end of the 18th century the town nearly reverted back to farmland and disappeared.

Over the past few years the town is once more again gaining historical notice and Tuesday, doing so in a big way.

"The United States House Representatives had a committee hearing to make a study to see if this would qualify to be a National Park," Bradshaw said.

Unfortunately it isn't a quick decision for New Philadelphia.

"The committees will have to review it recommend it to the full house and to the full senate. This it will have to go the conference committee and then it will have to go to the president for his signature," Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw says it would most likely take years for the process but he hopes if it got to our President, it would be a magnificent time for both Obama and New Philadelphia.

"It would be nice if President Obama would be president and could sign it, being that he is our first African American black President with the significance here," Bradshaw said.

Already having three titles as a National Historic Place, National Landmark Registry, and Underground Network for Freedom, Bradshaw says the title of National Park would be a giant leap for New Philadelphia and spreading its history to more Americans.

"I feel very good about it but it never moves as fast as you would like it to but I am very pleased at where we are," Bradshaw said.

The New Philadelphia site is open to the public and currently undergoing improvements for visitors.