Cover art for podcast The Why: Philly Explained

The Why: Philly Explained

50 EpisodesProduced by WHYYWebsite

There’s more to every story, if you take the time to tell it. Get to the “why” behind the issues that matter in the Greater Philadelphia region with hosts Annette John-Hall and Shai Ben-Yaacov. Each episode, they’ll pluck one local story from your feed and break it down.


Philly’s Wanamaker Organ has survived 2 pandemics

For many in the Philadelphia area, the holidays mean taking a trip to Macy’s in Center City to see its famous light show and listen to the symphonic sounds of the Wanamaker Organ. This year, because of the pandemic, Macy’s is putting most of their holiday traditions online in their interactive Santaland experience.

But department stores haven’t always changed their celebrations for the sake of public health. In 1918, when the Spanish Flu was spreading, Wanamaker’s — the store that later became Macy’s in Center City Philadelphia — put on a parade where people stood shoulder to shoulder,  a sing-along organ concert inside the store. Department store historian Michael Lisicky explains what changed between 1918 and now, and how Macy’s can keep the holiday spirit alive in a Christmas season like no other. 

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