Longtime Northeast Philadelphia resident Lou Lescas has spent many hours in the Philadelphia Water Department archives, tracking down the locations of photographs on the Philly History site that are either coded with the wrong location, or which had no location noted. By researching PWD construction plans, Lou has been able to correlate the surveying stations noted on the plans with those noted on the photos. He has even done this for photographs taken underground.
More items will be added as Lou provides them.
The History of Philadelphia's Watersheds and Sewers
Compiled by Adam Levine
Philadelphia Water Department
This is one of the many cave in incidents of creeks turned
into sewers - the Mill Creek, gradually traversing from above 54th and City
Ave to its junction of the Schulkill River north of the Grays Ferry Avenue
Bridge, was prone to this. This photo was taken around the former address
of 5045 Funston Street, northeast of 52nd St and Haverford Ave, in the middle
of West Philadelphia, after the cave-in was stabilized, looking south.
This again is 5045 Funston, looking more northwest, before stabilzation, and probably right after it happened. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Detail.aspx?assetId=133780
This is a photo of the Belmont Filtration Plant, Belmont Avenue and Ford Road, one of 3 presently in operation in Philadelphia, the others being Queen Lane and Torresdale. Most likely this location was inside on of the "Rapid Sand Filters". Note the many house plants in the area, something seen in other Belmont filter photos of this timeframe. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Detail.aspx?assetId=19405
It is confusing to determine where some of the water and sewer photos were taken. A common misconception is that everything that has the word Queen Lane in it was taken at the Queen Lane Reservoir on Henry Ave. Actually, the Queen Lane Raw Water Intake, where 80 million gallons a day are drawn from the Schuylkill River, has been located just east of the mouth of the Wissahickon Creek and the Schuylkill River since 1895, with newer buildings replacing older ones in the 1950s and in 2009. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Detail.aspx?assetId=131271
This is really at the SW corner of Martin Luther King and Montgomery Drives. It is easy to assume that this facility would be at the Belmont treatment plant, Ford Rd and Belmont Avenue, but Google Maps saved the day with this photo's true location. Theraw water drawing site has been located there since 1869- this building was constructed in 1899. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Detail.aspx?assetId=19425
This is right on the west bank of the Schuylkill River, south of Montgomery Drive and the Philadelphia and Reading (Columbia) Bridge, not at Belmont and Ford Road. The river is the easy clue here that it is not near Belmont Avenue. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Detail.aspx?assetId=120714
This beautiful arch, seen by anyone hiking in the Wissahickon Valley near Devil's Pool, is actually a sewer viaduct carrying the Wissahickon High Level Sewer over the Cresheim Creek. This is near the north bank of Wissahickon Creek, built in 1892. The viaduct allowed gravity to convey sewage through the Cresheim Creek Valley, avoiding a nearly 120 feet drop, and subsequent lift, which would have been nearly impossible at that time to pump away. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Detail.aspx?assetId=6037
From this website (http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wdstock/business.htm) I determined that Wilbur D. Glenn's store was located at State Road and Comly Street, and so was this photo. The 1910 Bromley map shows a 3 story building on the northwest corner. Sadly, this area was obliterated for I-95 in the 1960s. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Detail.aspx?assetId=6005
This is what the description in the photo says- north side Glenwood Avenue, between 5th and Reese Streets. The buildings on the left (south side of Glenwood Avenue) are the way I determined the location of this photo, since nearly all of the north side has been either been razed, built after 1907, or has been done over so much as to render a comparison unlikely. The building on the left side with the second floor bay window is the southwest corner of Reese St and Glenwood Avenue, and the houses further in the background, heading toward 6th Street, are the same. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Detail.aspx?assetId=84453
Worrell Street runs from O Street east to Frankford Avenue, with a bridge never rebuilt over the Frankford Creek. I use the word rebuilt, because that section of Worrell Street was at one time called Old Front Street Road, a road seen in maps which ran on the line of Front Street to Norris; then turned to the northeast, paralleling Frankford Avenue to its west. Another section, also named Worell Street, ran from just north of the Frankford Creek southeast to Torresdale Ave; then it was called Tacony Street. There are still 2 of these homes on the east side of the 4000 block of Worell Street, this picture is looking northwest. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Detail.aspx?assetId=83736
This is the same 4000 block of Worrell Street, as the entry above, looking
The 1895 G W Bromley Atlas of Philadelphia shows the Little Tacony Creek crossing Frankford Avenue at Pratt Street. There is another, smaller branch of this creek in Wissinoming Park, less than a mile north of this, but it doesn't cross Frankford Avenue, per the 1895 map. Fifteen years later, the 1910 Bromley map shows the P.R.T (Philadelphia Rapid Transit, now SEPTA) car barn pretty much over the site of the creek, and city streets in that area. In the Philadelphia Bureau of Surveys Annual Report (courtesy of Philly H20), 1902-03, there is mention of sewer construction in this area. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Detail.aspx?assetId=57220
The Frankford Creek in 1943 not only was full of sewage and industrial waste, but had serious erosion issues (note the banks). After WW II, there was a major effort to channel the creek and stabilize the banks- after the 1950s, much of the sewage was intercepted by larger sewers that ran parallel to the river banks, underground, conveying sewage to the sewer treatment plants. This photo is of the Frankford Creek looking northwest- the Harbison Dairy building is the two story building on the left (1925 Bromley, plate 33) on Hunting Park and Torresdale Aves. The bridge crossing the creek is Torresdale Avenue, and in the distance is the Frankford Elevated Line, over Kensington Avenue. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Detail.aspx?assetId=15942
This is Moore Street and the Delaware River, next to Pier 72. The railroad trestle belonged to Baugh and Sons, in the rear was the Delaware River Chemical Works; from the 1910 Bromley Atlas of Phila. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Detail.aspx?assetId=8880