Sunoco

Posted by Ellen

In the mid-eighteenth century, Ben Franklin's good friend John Bartram was a nurseryman, with a plant and seed business on a few acres across the Schuylkill River from Phladelphia. This is the view today from Bartram's estate, which is now owned by the city.

The oil tanks are part of the largest refinery complex in the northeast, recently acquired from Sunoco by an investment fund that operates it as Philadelphia Energy Solutions. This year's low oil prices don't seem to hurt the storage-and-refinery end of the oil business; PES says it has expanded its operation locally to employ more than 1,000 people and is trying to acquire a storage facility in North Dakota.

Bartram had an international reputation as a botanist, collecting seeds and plant specimens from all over the thirteen colonies and beyond, from Florida to Lake Ontario. Much of his traveling was by foot. He sent unique New World plants to London for the king's botanists there; they in turn sent him English plants that might or might not be suitable for American climes, including some trees and shrubs that survive today in Bartram's garden.

His son Bill continued the nursery business and also wrote a best-selling travelogue about plant-collecting adventures. Bill's niece Ann then took over the place and expanded it to include ten greenhouses and many acres of nursery gardens; in 1850, however, Ann and her husband Bob Carr ran out of money and had to sell the place.