Bring Out Your Dead: A Walk Through Plagues, Madness, and Medicine in Philadelphia - Atlas Obscura

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Bring Out Your Dead: A Walk Through Plagues, Madness, and Medicine in Philadelphia

Take a tour of some of our country's oldest and most unique medical sites and stories.

Today, Philadelphia is a hub for modern healthcare and research, but the founding city has also been a trailblazer in medicine, from being home to the first hospital on colonial territory to its stake on the front lines of combating HIV/AIDS. The city is rich with stories that add a different lens to a well traversed history, when viewed through  some of the biggest threats to public health and mankind. 

Join healthcare journalist Elana Gordon on a journey through the rise of modern medicine and psychiatry in Philadelphia, told with the help of some historic sites, a few obscure readings, and at least one “odditorium.” Featuring (but not limited to) a hidden moat, a sinister set of keys, some coffee, a few founding fathers and several trailblazing women...we’ll explore how epidemics and treatments of Philadelphia's past have informed our present day understandings of disease, healthcare, and society.

From small pox in the age of Ben Franklin to addiction in the age of fentanyl, Elana Gordon has covered medicine and public health in Philadelphia as a founding member of WHYY's health and science show, The Pulse. Her stories about bodysnatching and Legionnaires' Disease have been featured on the popular podcasts Criminal and 99% Invisible. 



  • Walk starts from the Benjamin Rush Garden at 143 S. 3rd Street. It will end at Pennsylvania Hospital at 8th and Pine.


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