Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ain't No Party Like a Scranton Party

The Tripp House

It wasn't until I went to Scranton -- or perhaps I should say The Electric City -- this week-end for my nephew's Graduation Party that I realized the meaning of the term The Electric City, which is used as a slogan for Scranton. I recently wrote a piece about on Scranton being "Tinseltown east," and captioned it The Electric City after I read a NYTimes article on the city. But I didn't realize that the nickname was so pervasive until I went there this week-end.

I guess I've been away longer than I thought (and the city has changed more than I knew). In fact, I had to ask one of my brothers what it stood for. I do remember the (unlit) sign atop the Scranton Electric Building, but never knew (or long forgot) that the name “The Electric City” refers to Scranton having had the country’s first electric streetcar line.

As Everything2 explains in its section on Scranton, Pennsylvania:
On November 30, 1886, the first electric-powered street car system in the United States commenced operations in Scranton, its initial run between downtown Scranton and the Green Ridge neighborhood. Electric trolley service subsequently extended all over the valley, and included the 'Laurel Line' a line that went from Scranton to Wilkes-Barre and stopped at Rocky Glenn Amusement Park. The 'Laurel Line' was restored in 2001 and now connects the Scranton tourist attractions such as Steamtown and the ironworks museum. In the late nineteenth century, the system of electric streetcars gave Scranton the nickname, 'the Electric City'.
In fact, the city seems to be on the upswing in many ways. As Philly Magazine noted in a piece on the TV show the Office and Scranton, Office Party:

Mayor Doherty . . . spearheaded a drive to raise $250,000 to relight a huge 40,000-light-bulb “Electric City” sign that had been dark for two decades atop of one of the town’s tallest buildings. Electric City references are everywhere in Scranton these days, from murals on highway tunnel walls to small-business names. Somehow, this TV show is helping to make Scranton a brand name. There’s been talk of building a duplicate of the Office set to attract tourists. For the first time in a while, many things seem possible in Scranton.

“We were a depressed community,” says the mayor, “and there was no development. Now we have a lot of development, and things are going really well for us. You figure, we have this TV show, and this year we’re getting the Yankees’ Triple A farm team. It’s just one thing after another.”

The trip to Scranton was a real trip down memory lane for me. The Graduation Party was held at The Tripp House, which is Scranton's oldest home. Even more, years before it was taken over by the Junior League and restored as an event venue, my grandmother lived there. My brothers and I went to the house early to help set up for the party, so I got to wander around the house and remember spending time there with Noni. Great memories.

The party was also lots of fun. We had great food (and drink), and seeing friends and family and dancing into the wee hours. As Steve Carell (Michael Scott) of the Office raps, Ain't No Party Like a Scranton Party (Cuz a Scranton Party Don't Stop). Of course, he isn't telling Scrantonians nothing, since we know that!!

And then I've gotta end with this rap song that I discovered called Scranton Rap. Says it all.

(The song is sung by Mike Berberich, with music and production by Kevin O'Boyle. John Siddons on guitar. The band is called Mo7s. Check out their myspace: mo7smusic)

No comments: