1848 Dauguerreotype View of the
Fairmount Water Works and Vicinity

This series of seven dauguerreotypes of the Fairmount Water Works and vicinity, created on May 22, 1848 by W. S. Porter, is probably the most detailed and the earliest photographic view of this area. Of most interest to me is the stretch of shoreline between Lemon Hill on the left and the Water Works on the right. Now home to the picturesque boathouses of the various Schuylkill River rowing clubs, this area was then the site of a comglomeration of institutional and industrial buildings. All the buildings were demolished after this area became part of Fairmount Park.

Thanks to the George Eastman House in Rochester New York, for providing the PWD Archives with 8 x 10 prints of each daugerreotype, and for gratning me permission to post a scaled-down composite of these prints on this site. The composite was created by scanning each print and combining them in Adobe Photoshop. Even in this reduced-quality version, the detail of the originals is apparent. The area between the Water Works and Lemon Hill was once called "the Flatiron," perhaps because of its triangular shape resembling New York's iconc Flatiron Building.

Click the thumbnail below to view the composite image (250 kb)

The History of Philadelphia's Watersheds and Sewers

Compiled by Adam Levine
Historical Consultant
Philadelphia Water Department
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Website by Panacea Design and Adam Levine
Page created August 22, 2005
Last modified December 21, 2014