This page provides links
to the newest material on Philly H2O.
If you have any suggestions regarding material I might want to add to
the site, please contact me.
CHECK OUT THE
Philadelphia Water Department Historical Collection
which includes thousands of photographs and publications
documenting the more than 200 year history of PWD.
April 25, 2015
Sewer History Course
Seven-part course developed by Adam Levine, Ellen Freedman Schultz and
Drew Brown of PWD, focused on the development of Philadelphia sewer and
December 20-22, 2014
The Water Works of the City of
Philadelphia: The Story of their Development and Engineering Specifications
A history of pumping engines used in the Philadelphia water system from
its beginnings in 1801 up to 1931. Includes a remarkable chart summarizing
the entire history, and numerous illustrations. Compiled by Walter A.
Graf, Staff Engineer with the assistance of Sidney H. Vought and Clarence
E. Robson, of the Budd Company, Philadelphia. Created from original volume
housed at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, HSP Catalogue No. WZ
23591 (4th Fl. Folio).
Encyclopedia of Philadelphia
by Joseph Jackson
Volume 1 of 4, covering Abattoir to Bonnafon. Harrisburg: The National
Historical Association, 1931. A facsimile PDF, with all text recognized,
of the first volume of this informative encyclopedia. If I get even a
little encouragement I might digitize the other three volumes.
Watering Committee Report,
This facsimile PDF, with all text recognized, documents the start of the
Fairmount Water Works and other aspects of the city's water supply system.
Full title: "Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common
Councils, read January 25, 1816. Philadelphia: Printed by William Fry,
Walnut, near Fifth Street, 1816."
Three updates to Schuylkill
items in one PDF (9 mb): "Reports on coal-dust pollution",
and "Report of visit [to collieries in Schuylkill County and adjacent
areas] of June 22-25, 1896", by John C. Trautwine, Jr., Chief of
the Bureau of Water, City of Philadelphia AND "Conclusions reached
respecting sand filtration in Philadelphia, by Allen Hazen, C.E. with
accompanying "Map of Philadelphia showing present intakes, pumping
stations and reservoirs together with proposed filters and connections"
maps and plans [6 mb] Schuylkill River. Wissahickon Creek, Phila.,
Pa. to Norristown, Pa. Surveyed by J. W. Thompson, Junior Engineer, Aug.
to Dec. 1913. L. D. Shuman, Assistant Engineer. In 18 sheets. [Includes
Index map (Sheet 14), descriptions of triangulation stations (Sheets 15,
16 and 17) and Freshet Data (Sheet 18) listing all the major floods affecting
this section of the river to 1913. Maps show topography of shoreline,
soundings, footprints of riverfront buildings, railroads, canal, locks,
dams, tributary streams, and many other details.
A River Again: The Story of the Schuylkill River Project, by Chari
Towne of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. Link
to a free PDF download page of this book, which documents the state
and federal project in the 1940s and 1950s to remove millions of tons
of coal waste that was choking the Schuylkill River.
January 29, 2011
Philadelphia: A periodical
published by the City Government, 1909-1911
While in some ways simply a public relations organ for the City, this
magazine also includes some valuable information not easily found elsewhere,
as well as many photographs, maps and other illustrations of the topics
presented. Each issue generally focuses on a single aspect of the city.
Three facsimile PDFs cover the water supply and sewer system, and I have
also included a list of all volumes I was able to locate.
Brief Summer Rambles Near
Described in a series of letters written for The Public Ledger during
the summer of 1881. By Joel Cook. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott &
Co. 1882. Most of these rambles were outside the city; the first four,
which are reproduced here, describe the scenery in Fairmount Park, Laurel
Hill Cemetery, along Wissahickon Creek, and along the Delaware River from
Philadelphia to Trenton, as seen from a steamboat.
The Upper Perkiomen
Valley as a Source of the Water Supply for Philadelphia (1894)
by Jonathan Faust, M.D. A critique of the Philadelphia Water Department
plans to dam the Perkiomen (a Schuylkill River tributary) to supply water
via aqueduct to Philadelphia. Page also includes information about the
Green Lane Dam, which was built on the Perkiomen between 1955 and 1957
by the Philadelphia Suburban Water Company.
December 28, 2010
Scrapbook (Part 1) of Frederic Graff Jr.,
This is the first part of a two part collection of clippings collected by
Frederick Graff Jr., Chief Engineer of the Philadelphia Water Department during
the middle of the 19th century. Conserved, mounted and bound, the scrapbook
contains 130 pages of clippings on a wide variety of topics, reflecting Graff's
wide interests and activities. PDF images of each scrapbook page are attached.
The second volume can also be accessed from this page.
Push-Button Water Treatment Plant
Well-illustrated and large-format 1959 brochure from the Philadelphia Water
Department touting the automation of the Torresdale Water Treatment Plant,
the largest of three plants in the city.
Scrapbook of Survey
Notices, 1871-1886, Compiled by the Dept. of Surveys, City of Phila.
Scrapbook of broadside notices posted in affected neighborhoods to
inform residents of meetings of the Board of Surveyors of the City of Philadelphia
at which would be discussed proposed additions or changes to the official
city plans created by the city's Department (or Bureau) of Surveys. Changes
could include the lines of streets and the grade regulations. Includes index
to the surveys by official City Plan number. Reads part of a typical broadside
(p. 12): "At the said meeting the board will hear the objections of any
freeholders to the final confirmation of said plans, and in the meantime they
may be seen at the Survey Department, No. 224 South Fifth Street."
A periodical published by the City Government, 1909-1911
This monthly periodical, while in some ways simply a public relations
organ for the City, also includes some valuable information not easily found
elsewhere, as well as many photographs, maps and other illustrations of the
topics presented. Three of the issues covered water and sewer, and they are
reproduced as PDFs. Also included is a lists of all the copies of Philadelphia
I found, with a brief
description of the subject of each volume.
December 7, 2010
Willow Street: The Curious Curvaceous Chronicle of Cohoquinoque Creek
(a.k.a. Pegg's Run) By Harry Kyriakodis
Harry Kyriakodis is a self-proclaimed "unfulfilled lawyer and bibliophile"
who is also a historian of Philadelphia, especially the section just north
of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. This article is just one of many Harry has
written, all of which can be found at his website, www.scribd.com/cchali.
In Memory of Patrolman Joseph
A. Reiss, by George J. Shotzbarger
Patrolman Reiss died in the line of duty while investigating a Gunner's Run
Sewer sewer collapse on August 1, 1959. More than 50 years later Shotzbarger,
who at the time of the collapse was seven years old and lived nearby, gave
this eloquent speech at the dedication of a Hero Plaque for Reiss, which talks
about the sewer in the context of the social history of the neighborhood.
If anything on this site is a MUST READ, this is it!
Dock Creek: An Art Installation by Winifred Lutz (2008)
and APS Water
Walk Weekend 2008
Winifred Lutz's installation, in Independence National Historical
Park in Philadelphia. was one of several water-related projects commissioned by
the American Philosophical Society Museum in 2008, culminating in a "Water
Walk Weekend" on September 20 and 21. This page links to an excellent
historic map of Dock Creek and vicinity created for the Lutz installation;
artist Brett Keyser, who created a fascinating piece,"TANN, HORNS,
& DEAD DOGS: Tales of Civic Effluvia," related to Dock Creek, which used
Winifred's installation as his outdoor stage and set.
Run Relief Sewer: Photos from the Underground, 1912 and June 15, 2010
the Dobson's Run Storm Relief Sewer was nearing completion, I had the chance to
walk in the pipe as it neared completion. This project was built completely in
tunnel, with the outlet section running underneath Laurel Hill Cemetery into an
outfall at the Schuylkill River. Also on this page are 1912 photographs of the
original Dobson's Run Sewer construction.
July 21, 2010
Library Scrapbook Collection 1911-1948
Holmesburg Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia recently scanned these newspaper
clipping scrapbooks. Subjects cover a wide range of neighborhood activities, which
are covered in a detailed table of contents. Thanks to Bruce Conner and Fred Moore
of the Northeast Philadelphia
History Network for alerting me to this valuable resource, and allowing me
to post it here.
Special Report on
the City Plan by the City Parks Association of Philadelphia.
Rodman Paul and Andrew Wright Crawford. The City Parks Association, an advocacy
group founded in 1889 which supported the creation of public parks and playgrounds
in Philadelphia, published this Special Report in 1902. The authors severely criticized
what they call the city's "gridiron" system of streets, especially the
effect of such a rigid plan on the natural landscape and topography. The many
illustrations show how destructive such a system tends to be, and how even slight
deviations from the grid can be a great improvement.
on 300 block of South 44th Street, West Philadelphia, 1914-1916.
From photograph album of Minetta Baker, 322 S. 44th Street. Thanks to Charlotte
Elsner for rescuing these photographs and passing them on to me.
Sewer Outfall, Videos & Photos.
Some of these were taken by participants
of PWD's annual Wingohocking Creek Watershed Tour. For more information about
the Thanks to Chris Dougherty, Dave Tavani, and Youtube's Yashea for the content
on this page.
Stormwater Song Lyrics
by John and Jan Haigis.
John and Jan are Darby, PA residents who have
a great interest in history, music, and, the environment. As co-presidents of
the Darby Creek Valley Association, they have a great concern for various issues
affecting water quality in the creek, which flows from Chester County into the
Delaware River at Tinicum, south of the Philadelphia International Airport. They
wrote these songs to promote the preservation of the watersheds they love.
Report on Drainage and Sewerage made
to the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia, May 9,
1853, by Samuel H. [Honeyman] Kneass, City Surveyor and Regulator. Philadelphia:
Crissy & Markley, Printers, Goldsmiths Hall, Library Street. 1853
report was the first attempt to systematize the disparate sewers and sewerage
systems in place in various municipalities around the time of Philadelphia's consolidation.
It serves as both a critique of the sewers as they existed at that time, and a
general outline of how the system might be better constructed and expanded in
the future. Kneass was the younger brother of Strickland Kneass, who was the first
surveyor and engineer of the consolidated Philadelphia, serving from 1854 to 1873,
and it was up to him to implement the proposals outlined in his older brother's
Song of the Sewer, performed
by Art Carney.
(aka Ed Norton, the sewer worker in the 1950s TV Show,
"The Honeymooners"). This song was first brought to my attention by
Joe Shapiro, volunteer in the PWD Archives, who loves good music but also loves
oddities like this. Now, thanks to YouTube, I can legally share this gem with
you, my fellow sewer aficionados. I consider it my unofficial theme song.
Philadelphia Farms, Newspaper Reports,
Text of four newspaper clippings from the Bulletin Collection,
Temple University Libraries Urban Archives.
Creek Watershed History: An Online Slideshow and other Information.
One of the first projects I undertook for the PWD Office of Watersheds in 2002
was a history of the Cobbs Creek Watershed in Philadelphia. This page links to
an online slideshow of the watershed history, and other Cobbs-related material
Creek Watershed: A collection of newspaper clippings
clippings from the Bulletin Collection, Temple University Libraries Urban Archives.
Creek Watershed: A historical overview of the Philadelphia section.
by Adam Levine, Historical Consultant, Philadelphia Water Department Office of
Watersheds, May 2003 (Revised October 2009). For some reason I never posted this
before, so here it is now; better late than never!
map of Delaware County [Pennsylvania]
1882. [Part of] Second Geological
Survey of Pennsylvania. Report of progress C5. Part 1. Field Notes in Delaware
County, by C. [Charles] E. Hall, with a colored geological map of the county,
and thirty-nine photographic pictures of the granite quarries, the kaolin mines,
the serpentine outcrops, and the castle rocks, published in advance of the Geological
Report on Delaware County, part 2, by J. P. Lesley."
Pollution, and Public Health in 19th Century Philadelphia by Adam Levine
This article first appeared in the May 2010 issue of Pennsylvania Legacies, published
by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Water Supply (1883) By
William W. Van Baun, M.D.
the Deleware River just below where the Aramingo Canal emptied into the river,
the Kensington Water Works served up a disgusting brew of polluted drinking water
for decades after it was opened in 1851. Health records from the period show a
higher death rate from typhoid fever and other water-borne diseases in the areas
served by this water works. The Board of Health advocated its closure many times,
as did independent physicians such as the author of this article. Unfortunately,
the works were not completely abandoned until 1890.
Report on Philadelphia's Water Supply
by the Board of Health
This Board of Health
Report focuses on typhoid fever and tries to carefully prove that the pollution
of the water supply with sewage is causing this disease. This is an accepted fact
today, but many people still needed to be convinced of this in 1889. This was
one of many reports that led to the ultimate filtration of the water supply in
the early 20th century.
Online Exhibit celebrating
100th Anniversary of Water Filtration in Philadelphia 1909-2009
industrial revolution and indoor plumbing brought polluted water and disease to
19th-century Philadelphia. Accustomed to utilizing the Schuylkill and Delaware
Rivers as the city's water supply, the Philadelphia Water Department undertook
a building project of previously unknown proportions to create filtration plants
that would make the polluted waters safe to drink. In 2009, Philadelphia celebrates
100 years of delivering filtered drinking water to all residents of the city.
Report on Water Supply and Sanitation (including sewers and sewerage)
The full citation of this report: "Semi-final draft of report on the
water supply and sanitation problem in the Philadelphia Tri-State District. Supplement
to chapter X of the regional plan report approved by the Committee on Water Supply
and Sanitation, June 30, 1931. Prepared for submission to the Water Supply and
Sanitation Committee, August 1931. The Regional Planning Federation of the Philadelphia
Tri-State District, 1700 Fox Building, Philadelphia." This was among the
final scanning projects undertaken by long-time PWD Archives volunteers, Dan and
clippings related to a new water supply for Philadelphia, 1944-1946
This series of clippings documents the city's last search for a new water supply
to replace the grossly polluted Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers. While the 194-page
PDF is a bit unwieldy (and clocks in at 22 mb), it is a wealth of information
for anyone interested in public works in this region at that time. This was among
the final scanning projects undertaken by long-time PWD Archives volunteers, Dan
and Pauline Greene.
Run: A brief history of this Schuylkill River tributary.
of the city's sewer system, Dobson's Run once drained an area from Germantown
down to Laurel Hill Cemetery, and ran through a large textile mill complex owned
by the Dobson brothers. This report was prepared for the PWD Public Relations
Division in 2005, to provide background for a sewer construction project in the
Dobson's Run watershed.
Mill Run: A brief overview of this Wissahickon Creek tributary.
wrote this report for the PWD Office of Watersheds in 2008. The aerial photographs
shown at the end of the report are courtesy of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning
Commission. DVRPC has scanned these historic photos and is now offering them for
sale at a very reasonable price. Contact DVRPC
for more information.
June 21, 2009
of Pennsylvania: A Government Survey (1858).
Excerpts and images
including geological and pictorial representations of Schuylkill River and Wissahickon
Creek, descriptions of the Potomac, Susquehanna, Delaware, and Allegheny watersheds
in Pennsylvania, and locations of quarries in Philadelphia and vicinity.
Dam Fishway on the Schuylkill.
Information on the new fishway, opened
in May 2009 to replace the Fairmount Dam Fish Ladder, and Includes photographs
and videos of fish (and one otter) passing through the fishway. Also many links
to other fish- and fishing-related pages. Among the links:
on Fish Passage at Fairmount by Lance Butler and Joe Perillo (PDF,
2005-2006 Fish Counts by Species at Fairmount Fish Ladder (PDF,
Fishing in Philadelphia:
Photographs from the Philadelphia Anglers Club.
Includes photos of
huge fish being taken out of the Schuylkill River and elsewhere in Philadelphia.
A second page of photos, Catch and Release,
documents big fish that took the bait more than once, and discusses the safety
of eating fish caught in urban environments. Thanks to Louis Cook of the
Philadelphia Anglers Club for providing information and gathering the photos for
these pages, from fellow Philly anglers Matt Coll, Tan Bui, Aki Mori, Chris McIntee,
Dan Coghlin, Dennis Cook, Enoch Lee, and Jude Becker.
D. Borrelli, Dedicated Philadelphia Water Department employee, 1938-1963.
A remembrance by Bob Borrelli, who provided several anecdotes and vintage
photographs of his father as a child in West Philadelphia and at work for the
photographs of the Aramingo Canal Excavation. (PDF, 23 mb)
to A. Leonard Pundt of PennDOT for providing the images in this PDF. To see the
full collection of photographs, visit the Aramingo
Canal main page.
and indexes of reports from the Bureau of Surveys.
from 1927 to 1950 (in PDF format) have been added to the existing collection,
as well as indexes of reports from 1883 to 1923.
of East Park Reservoir 1869-1889.
Jane Mork Gibson, historical consultant
for PWD, compiled this report on the reservoir (in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia)
from its conception through construction and finally its opening in 1889.
January 11, 2009
Pauline and Daniel Greene Glass Plate Negative Collection.
honor of these two long-time PWD volunteers we have renamed this collection for
them. See listing below September 12, 2008 for full description.
December 30, 2008
Aramingo Canal: Then and Now.
of the Aramingo Canal (Gunner's Run) being converted into a combined sewer, 1900-1902,
along with modern photos showing an excavation of a section of the canal, December
2008. Thanks to Doug Mooney of URS Corp., for inspiring this page and providing
the modern photos.
December 21, 2008
"The Water Supply of the City of Philadelphia
by a proposed Aqueduct from Norristown Dam, and the Acquisition of the Works of
the Schuylkill Navigation Co. 1891."
This plan was never implemented,
but left behind a series of sixteen beautifully rendered plans and maps showing
details of the Schuylkill River watershed; the canals, locks, dams of the Schuylkill
Navigation company; and gate-houses and other buildings designed by Philadelphia
architect Frank Furness.
October 29, 2008
Annual Report Indexes 1898-1913
Thanks to PWD Archives Volunteer Christiane
Metz, for compiling these indexes for the years covering the construction of PWD's
filtration system. Reports for these years are literally crammed with charts,
graphs and other illustrations, all of which are described.
Knappen Report on Frankford Creek (LARGE FILE: PDF, 50mb)
called the "Report on Flood Control, Frankford Creek, City of Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania," by the Knappen Engineering Company, 280 Madison Avenue, New
York 16, N.Y. October 1947. This report, excerpted
elsewhere on PhillyH2O, gives an excellent historical overview of the creek,
and includes large-scale engineering drawings for the flood control channel completed
October 24, 2008
A Day in the Ma'sh
by Maurice F. Egan
An interesting portrait of a section of South Philadelphia,
called The Neck, once an area of marshland, canals, pig-farms, and wide-open vistas.
Illustrations by J.W.Pennell, H.R. Poore, and Thomas Eakins. From Scribner's Monthly,
Volume 22, Issue 3, July 1881, pages 343-352.
of Drainage Terms by C. Drew Brown
Drew Brown, Manager of Public Education for PWD, created this glossary for our
annual Wingohocking Mystery Tour. I think it's too valuable to simply let lie
on some computer hard drive, so I got his permission to post it here.The terms
are not in alphabetical
order, but rather follow a logical hierarchy, beginning
with the proper definition of a watershed and working to smaller elements of both
natural and man-made drainage systems.
II: Photos from my Second Sewer Walk
taken during a walk in a sewer on the University of Pennsylvania campus September
15, 2008, include a running description of the experience. The visual aspect that
has always been missing from my first "Down Under"
experience; now I finally have it. The tour was part of publicity for the American
Philosophical Society's "Water Walk Weekend" Sept. 20-21, 2008, and
these pictures (combined with those taken by a Phila. Inquirer photographer who
accompanied the tour) made a great hit during the 12 twenty-minute talks I gave
throughout the weekend.
of the Delaware River Estuary 2008
This Summer 2008 report, from the
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (in which the Philadelphia Water Department
is an important participant), details the health of the estuary or tidal portion
of the Delaware River, below the falls at Trenton, NJ. The estuary includes all
of the Schuylkill River Basin, and this report makes a great companion to A
Report on the State of the Schuylkill River Watershed: 2002 recently added
to PhillyH20. For more information on the Delaware Estuary, visit www.delawareestuary.org.
September 12, 2008
PWD Photographs (1895-1909), on PhillyHistory.org: The Pauline and Daniel Greene
Glass Plate Negative Collection
These photographs, created from 8"x10"
glass plate negatives, mostly document the construction of the city's then-new
drinking water filtration system. The small images presented on PhillyHistory
give only a glimpse of the information recorded in these pictures, which show
everything from landscapes and streetscapes that are long gone, turn-of-the-century
construction methods that straddled the transition period between horsepower and
automotive machinery, down to the hand tools, clothing, and hair styles of the
foreman and workmen. In some images, labels on equipment such as cranes, steam
engines, and wheelbarrows are clearly discernible. This link will take you to
a web page that includes sample high-resolution images; background about the discovery
of the negatives and the 20-year process of cleaning, cataloguing, scanning, and
getting them online; and a tribute to long-time PWD volunteers Pauline and Dan
A Report on the State
of the Schuylkill River Watershed: 2002
A comprehensive overview of
the state of the river. Includes informative maps, tables, and other illustrations.
Prepared by the Conservation Fund for the Schuylkill River Watershed Initiative,
a consortium of most of the groups interested in the health of the river, including
July 15, 2008
19th & 20th Century Atlases of Philadelphia Neighborhoods
Bromley Atlas of the 18, 19th, and 31st Wards (including Kensington and other
1927 Bromley Atlas of West Philadelphia (including all
neighborhoods west of the Schuylkill River)
March 4, 2008
Corps of Engineers and US Geological Service (USGS) Sinking Homes Studies
Fascinating surveys of several Philadelphia neighborhoods that grew up around
two buried streams, Wingohocking Creek and Wissinoming Creek. This report,
which included many photographs of the neighborhoods in question, is no longer
available on the Web, so I have posted two PDF files related to the study.
Mapping Buried Stream Valleys in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sheet FS11700. 2000, and Geographic Information System Analysis
of Topographic Change in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, During the Last Century by
Peter G. Chirico and Jack B. Epstein. USGS Open File Report 00-224. 2000
December 10, 2007
Scenery of Pennsylvania, 1875
section of the volume Philadelphia and Its Environs, and the Railroad Scenery
of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1875). The
text and accompanying illustrations provide a fascinating tour, via various Pennsylvania
railroads, of the state's coal mining regions, as well as other sites to be seen
along the way. In my talks about the Schuylkill
River as it flows through Philadelphia, I often mention the so-called "culm"
(small pieces of waste coal) that accumulated around the many coal mines, washed
into the river with every rainfall, and eventually clogged the river upstream
from the Fairmount Dam.
to 1886 Report on a New Water Supply for Philadelphia
of large-scale images includes a fascinating collection of detailed topographic
maps (dated 1887) that cover portions of Bucks and Montgomery counties, including
the watersheds of Perkiomen Creek and Neshaminy Creek. Other documents include
maps and aqueduct profiles that summarize, in visual form, this never-implemented
plan for a new upstate water source. See the "Water Supply" section
of the Philly H2O Archives for more information on this proposal.
View of Fairmount Water Works and Vicinity
Including Lemon Hill, Schuylkill
Navigation Company locks and canal, and various buildings in the area north of
the Water Works once called "the Flatiron." Images reproduced with permission
of the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York.
Water Department Library Catalogue
A PDF (265 kb; 151 pages) listing
more than 1,500 publications in the collection of the Philadelphia Water Department.
Thanks to volunteer Joe Shapiro for inputting these volumes.
Memories of Belfield Avenue [Link no longer
An article by Lou Brownholtz about growing up
on this Germantown street, which was built over Wingohocking Creek, a
Frankford Creek tributary. Lou did some of his research in the PWD Archives,
and is now an archives volunteer. The article was originally published
in the Germantown Crier, publication of the Germantown Historical
Low Land: A story of ash-dumping in the Wingohocking Creek watershed
excerpt from Utility Cars of Philadelphia (1971) by Dr. Harold E. Cox,
discussing one of the reasons the once-thriving Logan neighborhood has become
an abandoned wasteland.
receipts from a Philadelphia family: 1849, 1891 and 1934
an 1897 advertisement for Laurel Hill Cemetery
of Queen Village in Philadelphia
real estate advertisements from the Philadelphia Bulletin, June 19, 1966.
Cheltenham, Darby, Horsham, Moreland and Upper Darby Townships
Plates from early 1870s atlases published by G. M. Hopkins, Philadelphia surveyor
April 14, 2006
from the Army Corps of Engineers on Navigation in Frankford Creek
by future PWD Chief William Ludlow, indicates the need for dredging and other
work to restore the navigation channel in Frankford Creek. Includes details of
employment and materials used for several manufactories along the creek.
bridges across Frankford Creek: 19th century photos from City Archives
Photographs showing reconstructed bridges at Bridge
and Orthodox streets. Photos also show area in vicinity of Bridge Street, including
Tacony or Lennig Chemical Works (now Rohm & Haas) the Frankford Arsenal, and
March 23, 2006
of Belfield, by Sarah Logan Wistar Starr
booklet about this estate, now part of the LaSalle University campus, in Phildelphia's
Olney section. Belfield and Little Wakefield still exist, as do remnants of the
Belfield's gardens, which are on a steep hillside in the Wingohocking Creek valley,
overlooking a section of Belfield Avenue (beneath which the creek now flows in
a large sewer). In the early 19th century Philadelphia artist Charles Willson
Peale lived on the estate.
turn out for 'Be-In' to promote 'Flower Power'
Article and photograph
from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, April 17, 1967. The event, held
in Fairmount Park, was organized by Ira Einhorn and attended by "hippies,
teenie-boppers, mods, psychedelics and pretenders." Thanks to Rob Armstrong
of the Fairmount Park Archives for
"turning me on" to this historic
Fairmount Water Works, by Jane Mork Gibson. From Bulletin,
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Volume 84, Numbers 360, 361 Summer 1988. Published
for the exhibition The Fairmount Water Works, 1812-1911 (July 23-September
25, 1988). The original publication contains many illustrations and informative
captions, a checklist of the exhibition, and a preface by Anne d'Harnoncourt,
none of which is included here, But even without the illustrations, the following
text stands as the best and most complete history of Fairmount, from Jane Mork
Gibson, the site's most knowledgeable historian.
River in Philadelphia, as shown on Noll's New Official Guide Map of Philadelphia,
1890. Shows many creeks that other maps of the period omit, and includes elevation
contour lines and a more realistic street grid.
Street Stormwater Outfall, in the context of the development of stormwater
and wastewater disposal systems in Manayunk and Philadelphia.
A paper written
for the Fairmount Park Commission that is, essentially, a history of drainage
in Philadelphia through the 19th century.
it rains, it pours: Understanding the importance of stormwater runoff
An article originally written for Green Scene, and reprinted as a fact sheet
by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, on the problems of uncontrolled stormwater
runoff, and some of the steps that PHS and PWD are taking to alleviate it.
Report of William Ludlow, Chief Engineer of the Philadelphia Water Department.
Ludlow is particularly astute in his discussion of the need for water conservation
and the sewage pollution of the city's river-based water supply. Other related
PWD reports from the mid-1880s can be found under the "Water Supply History"
and "Sewer History" headings of the Philly H2O Archives.
Water and Sewer
History. Two virtual exhibits, based on "Clean Water For Life: Philadelphia
Water Department 1801-2001," have been posted here: Drainage
for the City, which replaces a previously-posted version that did not
include all the exhibit images; and Water
for the City, a comprehensive visual history of the Philadelphia water
supply, based on a quarter-century of research by historian Jane Mork Gibson.
Watershed in Philadelphia: Four Plans and Maps. A 1916 plan and report
on Pennypack Park, a modern map created by Roland Williams that is a must for
any visitor to the park, a composite map from 1927 showing Sandy Run, a mostly-obliterated
Pennypack tributary, and a 1930 road map of the area.
for Sewer Inspectors, 1908. This vintage document include this caveat:
"No manhole or sewer is safe to enter in which a lighted candle will not
new maps on a new maps page, covering the Delaware River, Philadelphia's
port in 1912, Mill Creek in 1852, Tacony and Frankford creeks, and an interesting
Center City elevation diagram from the early 18th century.
from the Castner Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
are divided into the following pages:
River: Smith and Windmill Islands
Kollner: Watercolors and Lithographs, and
Frank H. Taylor: Watercolors of West Philadelphia.
From various collections,
these are divided into the folowing pages:
Aerial Views from the PNI
Views of Smith and
of Philadelphia 1609-1884.
The preface and two chapters from
this three-volume comprehensive history of early Philadelphia: Chapter
1 (Topography) and Chapter 11
(Manners and Customs of the Primitive Settlers).
Society of Frankford: Photographs from the Cartledge Collection
photographs, mostly of Pennypack Creek, taken by photograph Lincoln Cartledge
between 1890 and 1915.
Nine new maps
on a new page, ranging from 1777 to 1925, including
several of the Schuylkill River.
Survey of the Schuylkill River, 1866.
Map and accompanying text give
a detailed description of the state of the river in Philadelphia, above the Fairmount
of Water: The Schuylkill in 1866.
An excerpt from the 1866 PWD Annual
Report on the condition of the Schuylkill River, then as now the source of much
of the City's water.
of the Schuylkill River.
A selection of engravings and drawings from
Overview of the Schuylkill River as a Water Supply.
A brief history
with links to a number of illustrations.
Job Annoucement for Sewer Crawler, 1968. [PDF, 150 kb]
Joe and Milton Shapiro for this piece of sewer trivia, which is linked at the
top of the "Down Under" page.
A new page will list future lectures by Adam Levine on various
topics related to sewers and watershed history.
A few ideas on how to do your own hidden stream research.
Creek Sewer Investigation, 1849.
A report to City Councils regarding
this sewer, which was then inadequate to the growing drainage needs of the city.
A description from a Centennial guidebook, with
illustrations, of the bustling life along the the Delaware and Schuylkill.
River Steamboats, 1876.
A description from a Centennial guidebook,
Hidden Streams, 1889.
As early as the late 19th century the streams
that had been converted to sewers, and thus hidden underground, were seen as worthy
of a newspaper story.
An essay by Christopher Morley on this section of South
Western Commons, 1840s.
Excerpt of a section from Watson's Annals
about the western rural part of the original city.
Creek Watershed, 1902.
Excerpts from a 1902 guidebook of Germantown
concerning the Winghocking watershed and other local history.
Excerpts concerning Winghohocking Creek
and Schuylkill River.
History of Frankford Creek.
A PowerPoint slideshow converted into
a Web page or PDF format, with text, maps, photographs and newspaper articles
illustrating the history of pollution
and channelization of Frankford Creek.
from the Magee Guide to Philadelphia, 1876.
from Philadelphia and Its Environs, 1875.
Selections focusing on the city's streams, rivers, and parks.
of Illustrations in History of Philadelphia: 1682-1884.
Indexes to images in all three volumes of this pre-eminent historical work,
commonly known by its authors' last names, Scharf and Westcott.
and Plan of Manufacturers along the Schuylkill River, 1868.
an editorial deriding the self-serving nature of the petition, in which the manufacturers
suggested piping water to Philadelphia from upstream so they could continue polluting
the river within the City limits.
of underground sewer inspections added to Down Under!, courtesy
of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News library.
brick and cobble-stone: A vision of arctic climates
Chapter XI of
Town Geology: The Lesson of the Philadelphia Rocks, an 1885 book by Angelo
history of Philadelphia's drainage and sewerage system
version of part of an exhibit celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Philadelphia
Water Department, mounted in 2001 by PWD and the City of Philadelphia Department
of Records. I co-wrote the text and located most of the illustrations for this
part of the exhibit. [Link updated March 23, 2006]
map detailing "The Journey
of Your Flush" along with a tribute to the Fairmount Water Works
History of Frankford. 80-page souvenir booklet, with historical essays
about this Philadelphia neighborhood, as well as many pages of advertisements
that provide a portrait of Frankford at that moment in time.
Page: Five early
maps of Fairmount Park (1870-1893), and an 1873 engraving of Fairmount Water Works,
with buildings identified by date of construction.
Hill and Fairmount Park. The papers of Charles S. Keyser and Thomas Cochran,
relative to a public park for Philadelphia, published in 1856 and 1872.
City of Tomorrow: Twelve-part 1930 newspaper series detailing plans for
Philadelphia and the surrounding region
A 1999 article by Adam Levine.
Report on the Flood of 1843, in Delaware Co., Pennsylvania
11, 1843 newspaper article describing the Flood of 1843
Report on Manufactories of Delaware Co., Pennsylvania
Census Return: Portrait of Philadelphia
Philly H2O replaces
my former site, www.sewerhistory.net,
and includes the best of what was on
the old site and much more.