If you’ve wandered downstairs in the Academy of Music looking for a bathroom during intermission, you may not have known you’ve stepped right into history.
The area pictured here – located directly beneath the lobby in the Academy basement – is known now as the Stage Door Canteen, however as early as the the mid-19th century, the area served as a stylish restaurant.
Transformed during wartime, the area was home to 2.5 million circulating WWII servicemen from 1942 to 1945. A series of stars performed for troops there, including Harry Richman, Duke Ellington, James Melton, and Frank Sinatra. The Canteen also held a series of benefits for WWII, including the Red Cross War Fund, the United Nations Council, and others.
Photo credit: Historical Society of Philadelphia.