Adam Levine

Historical Consultant and


After doing historical research for
PWD and others for almost 20
years, I have become the local
expert on the history of
Philadelphia's rivers, streams, and
drainage systems. If you have
looked at other areas of
PhillyH2O, you know I am
obsessed by the subject of urban
sewers, urban watersheds, and
the unfortunate intersection
between the two. I am also
passionate about sharing my work
and my research with the world.

The History of Philadelphia's Watersheds and Sewers

Compiled by Adam Levine
Historical Consultant
Philadelphia Water Department
HomeCreek to sewerDown underarchivesmapsAdam LevineLinks

LECTURES: One of the most exciting aspects of this work is presenting it to an unsuspecting public. Lifelong residents of Philadelphia have said that after hearing my general historical lecture they can never look at the city in quite the same way again. I have given this program (see the "Creek to Sewer" link above for a synopsis) to a variety of university, high school, and neighborhood groups, and at several conferences. In addition to this general sewer and watershed lecture, I have specific historical programs about the major Philadelphia-area watersheds, among them Frankford Creek, Cobbs Creek, Pennypack Creek, Mill Creek, and Poquessing Creek.

ARCHIVES: Part of my work with PWD has been managing the department's Historical Collection, many exxamples of which appear on this site. We use PastPerfect© Museum Software, which combines a powerful searchable database with a user-friendly interface. With the help of several internas and volunteers, more than 22,000 items have been catalogued, mostly photographs and books, including a collection of hundreds of PWD annual and special reports which date back to 1798. The core of the photograph collection is a group of more than three-thousand 8 x10 inch glass plate negatives which document the work of PWD in the years 1894-1909. All the glass plates have been scanned (thanks mainly to the nonstop work of intern Natalia Broz in 2004) and catalogued (thanks to the work of Joe Shapiro, and the late Dan and Pauline Greene). More than 1,500 of these photographs are available on the PhillyHistory web catalogue of the City Department of Records, and more are available on the PWD online catalogue.

BOOKS and MAGAZINE WORK: In the other half of my life I work as a garden writer and editor. I am editor of GROW, the quarterly magazine of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; have co-authored The Layered Garden with David L. Culp, and I am the sole author of Gale Nurseries: Four Generations of Garden Excellence (2008), and A Guide to the Great Gardens of the Philadelphia Region (2007), a comprehensive and user-friendly guidebook to more than 90 Delaware Valley gardens. In 2003 I co-authored two books, The Passion for Gardening, with Ken Druse, and The Philadelphia Flower Show: Celebrating 175 Years, with Ray Rogers. I have also continue to write articles for other gardening magazines.


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Page last modified April 19, 2015