“It was clear at the outset that this area has been in large part neglected, but that it has a distinctive and important history which reflects major economic and social trends as manifest in Philadelphia….” — Anthony Garvan (1967)

September 29, 2008

Dr. Anthony Garvan from the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of American Civilization led the Philadelphia Historical Salvage Council from its inception in 1967, continued:

“In fact, it now seems evident that the Northern Liberties-Fishtown-Kensington community, like Southwark, is one of the earliest speculative planned communities in English-speaking America and one which, by design or accident, attracted a relatively homogeneous group of residents, thus creating a community similar in many of its aspects to the new urban developments of the twentieth century. The architectural residential style developed, while typical of Philadelphia building elsewhere, has distinctive variants in design which quite precisely suited the family needs and personal aspirations of the immigrants and successive generations of occupants.” (Philadelphia Archaeological Salvage Council, Summary Report, August 15, 1967, p. 1, from Garvan Papers, University of Pennsylvania. UPT 50/G244, Box 31, Folder 15).

“… in the quarter-century following the Revolution, Philadelphians witnessed the beginnings of an industrial revolution…” — Ronald Schultz (1993).

September 29, 2008

Ronald Schultz, The Republic of Labor: Philadelphia Artisans and the Politics of Class, 1720-1830 (Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 165-66:

“… in the quarter-century following the Revolution, Philadelphians witnessed the beginnings of an industrial revolution. It was an experimental period for everyone involved, as much for the merchants and master crafts-men who became industrial capitalists and created the city’s outwork and manufactory systems as for the journeymen and half-trained apprentices who labored under their control. The uncertainty of the era was underscored by those who styled themselves the “manufacturing interest” of the city when, in 1787, they formed the Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts in the hope that an emulation of English industrial machinery would provide a safe and easy way to transform Philadelphia into a cornucopia of industrial wealth… It was, then, the anti-British embargo of 1807-9 and the subsequent second Anglo-American War that propelled Philadelphia’s transformation into a manufacturing center. The lack of competition from British imported goods between 1807 and 1809, and again from 1812 to 1815, provided a natural protective tariff for domestic production at the same time that idle merchant capital sought new forms of investment.”

“here in addition to the pleasing spectacle which is exhibited, of shipbuilding, in all the various stages,…” Thomas Wilson (1828)

September 29, 2008

Thomas Wilson, Picture of Philadelphia, for 1824, containing the Picture of Philadelphia for 1811 by James Mease, M.D. with all its improvements since that period, (Town, Philadelphia, 1828), p. 338-49

“Passing up Front street as far as the hay scales, take the right hand road, and crossing the turnpike (leading the Frankfort, Bristol &c.) you stride on the bank of the Delaware through Kensington, called Shakamexunk by the natives; here in addition to the pleasing spectacle which is exhibited, of shipbuilding, in all the various stages,…”

“Chestnut, Walnut, Spruce and Pine; Market, Arch, Race and Vine”

September 29, 2008

Nathaniel Burt wrote in ‘The Perennial Philadelphians’ (Little, Brown), pp. 529-30:

“The only area of the city that ‘Old Philadelphians’ really consider Philadelphia is that narrow belt that extends from the Delaware to the Schuylkill, south of Market and north of Lombard. The rhyme ‘Chestnut, Walnut, Spruce and Pine; Market, Arch, Race and Vine’ expressed the ultimate limits, north and south, of an ‘Old Philadelphian’s’ personal knowledge of the city—and Race and Vine were only included because of the rhyme. 

“Except for the more liberated spirits, or those for some reason not totally assimilated, ‘Old Philadelphian’s’ when they say ‘Philadelphia’ mean automatically the ‘sacred zone,’ their somewhat limited Philadelphia, and not the sprawling jungles to the north, south, west and even east across the river in Camden, the ‘Greater Philadelphia’ of Frankford and Kensington, Manayunk and Passyunk, of Marian Anderson and Connie Mack and W.C. Fields. It is not that they don’t know this Greater Philadelphia exists; in fact, many of them, particularly historically-minded older gentlemen, have a sort of benevolent curiosity about it, the feeling a bird-watcher has for some particularly busy bog; they know about the people that live there, but they don’t and won’t actually know the odd specimens inhabiting this swamp that surrounds the walled bastion, the inner, the forbidden city, of real Philadelphia, their own narrow historical, hereditary turf.” 

“Their only road and gate of egress and ingress northward”

September 21, 2008

 John F. Watson, “Annals of Philadelphia” (1830):

“While the British army occupied Philadelphia, in the year 1777 and ’78, they damned in all the Cohocksinc meadows, so as to lay them all under water from the river, and thus produced to themselves a water barrier of defence in connection with their line of redoubts across the north end of the city. Their only road and gate of egress and ingress northward, was at the head of Front street where it parts to Germantown, and by Kensington to Frankford.” 


“Today the English staff officers held an entertainment for the general-in-chief, Sir William Howe. The entire retinue came together at Redoubt Number One at three o’clock in the afternoon. They embarked in flatboats and passed down the Delaware River with musical accompaniment….” — Sgt. Maj. Johann Ernst Prechtel, Bayreuth Reg’t., May 18, 1778.

May 8, 2008

…  When the retinue passed the fleet of warships and transports lying at anchor in the harbor, all of which had flags flying, a strong salute was fired from all the cannons.  In a garden outside Philadelphia a banquet and ball was held, and at night a magnificent fireworks display was presented.  

(Translated by Bruce Burgoyne)

“The Delaware grounded, at the falling of the tide, near the present Upper Ferry to Camden from Kensington, and, before she could be got off, the guns of the British batteries compelled her colors to be struck.” — Sept. 27, 1777

May 3, 2008

“As soon as the British had taken possession of Philadelphia, they erected three batteries near the river, to protect the city against the American shipping. Before the batteries were finished, Commodore Hazlewood ordered the Delaware and Montgomery frigates, each of twenty-four guns, and the sloop Fly, some galleys and gondolas, to move near and attack them. On the morning of the 27th of September, they opened a cannonade upon the works. The Delaware grounded, at the falling of the tide, near the present Upper Ferry to Camden from Kensington, and, before she could be got off, the guns of the British batteries compelled her colors to be struck. A schooner was driven ashore, and the remainder of the vessels escaped down the river. The affair was badly managed, and disaster followed.”

Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution;… (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1860), p. 104