And then there were four. Bids from Washington D.C., California, South Carolina and Philadelphia are the finalists to get the USS Olympia. Bruce Harris, CEO of Friends of the Cruiser Olympia—the local group vying for the cruiser—said the vessel is an historically accurate representation of Philadelphia’s port culture and ship construction in the 1890s.
“Plus, her steel was mined in Pennsylvania—that steel came from Bethlehem steel mills,” said Harris. “So she’s a Pennsylvania girl, and we want to keep her here.”
Harris said the Friends want to make the cruiser a destination museum—a “mini, floating Franklin Institute.” John Brady, CEO of the Independence Seaport Museum, said keeping the ship here is not his top priority.
“The Seaport Museum is interested that the ship be saved. That’s what we care about. Where that happens is totally secondary to us,” said Brady. The museum isn’t the only decision-maker, either. Everything has to go by various stakeholders including the Navy. Brady hopes to wrap up the bidding process within a year, but says it very well may take longer.