During Philadelphia's early history, the city came to rely on a cranky, one-eyed Frenchman - Stephen Girard.

Girard came to the colonies from Bordeaux, and settled in Philadelphia in 1776. He first worked as a grocer, one of several professions he undertook, including aid worker during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793, merchant, real estate entrepreneur, and banker. He soon became the richest American of his day.

During the War of 1812, Girard served as the government's bailout agency, financing the conflict out of his own pocket.

Despite his withdrawn nature, he loved his city. He left his fortune for the creation of Girard College, which continues to educate Philadelphia children today.

- St. John Barned-Smith