Agnes Hatcher talks about growing up in the rough but congenial streets of Northern Liberties, where the smells of brewing malt and rotting animal skins hung heavy, and a cookie could be swiped from Kaplan's Bakery in a twinkle.

Adab Ibrahim and Joe Brenman describe creating the Doorways to Peace community mural at the al-Aqsa Islamic Society on Germantown Avenue.

Vince Maurelli of Colorado Street in South Philadelphia shares photos and memories of his grandfather Vincenzo, who sold fruits and vegetables a century ago from his Ninth Street Market cart.

All this and a great deal more can be found at www.philaplace.org - a Web site formally launched today as a collaboration of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the city Department of Records, the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

More than three years in the making, the site weaves together maps, reminiscences, historical records, thousands of photographs, home movies, all to create a textured and highly personal sense of Philadelphia over time.

Stories are keyed to specific places, and viewers can roam across neighborhood maps, pausing wherever interest is piqued. The initial content focuses on Southwark and Northern Liberties, two of the city's oldest immigrant neighborhoods, but philaplace.org will be in a state of continuous expansion.

Visitors to the site can even add their own content and stories.

More than 400 guests are expected to attend a reception marking the launch at 5:30 p.m. today in City Council chambers.

Contact culture writer Stephan Salisbury at 215-854-5594 or ssalisbury@phillynews.com.