Author Archives: Ron Hoess

Washington Avenue: A Representative Example of Philadelphia’s Industrial Past, Part III

We will begin the final part of our tour down Washington Avenue starting at Broad Street and working our way eastward towards the Delaware River. One of Philadelphia’s major industries, textiles, was well represented along Washington Avenue. By 1860, Philadelphia had as many people employed in the textile industry as the textile center of New […]
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Washington Avenue: A Representative Example of Philadelphia’s Industrial Past, Part II

We continue our tour down Washington Avenue at 17th Street heading east towards Broad Street. There are, of course, the ubiquitous coal yards along the way. These may seem strange to us today but were an essential feature in the first half of the 20th Century. Through World War II, nearly half of the railroad […]
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Washington Avenue: A Representative Example of Philadelphia’s Industrial Past, Background History

Philadelphia was once a major industrial center in the late 1900′s and the first part of the 20th century, deservedly earning the title “workshop to the world”. Unlike other cities that were centered around a single industry, i.e. Pittsburgh and steel or Detroit and automobiles, Philadelphia had a spectrum of different industries. There were knitting […]
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Washington Avenue: A Representative Example of Philadelphia’s Industrial Past, Part I

For the historic background of Washington Avenue, please read “Washington Avenue: A Representative Example of Philadelphia’s Industrial Past, Background History.” We will start our tour at 25th and Washington Avenue and make our way eastward. At the north east corner of 25th and Washington Avenue, we have the Robert Wilson Coal Yard.1 There were numerous […]
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The Pennsylvania Railroads Philadelphia Improvements, Part II

Last month we looked at the Pennsylvania Railroads Philadelphia Improvements starting with the construction of Suburban Station followed by construction of the north wing of 30th Street Station, which opened September 28, 1930. Despite the Depression, construction would continue on the remaining major portion of 30th Street Station. From the outset, the Pennsylvania Railroad intended […]
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The Pennsylvania Railroads Philadelphia Improvements, Part I

During the early 1920s, the Pennsylvania Railroad began planning for major changes to its infrastructure in the busy Philadelphia area, with the goal of expediting passenger traffic. While Broad Street Station presented an ideal location for the termination of inbound commuter traffic, a major drawback was its stub-ended design, which forced through trains destined for […]
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The Reading Railroad’s Turn of the Century Big Dig, Part Two

  Last month, we discussed the Reading Railroad’s ambitious plans for placing their City Branch below ground level. One part was the construction of a tunnel beneath Pennsylvania Avenue. The tunnel was to be 2888 feet long and of sufficient width to hold four tracks, two for the main line into the city and two […]
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The Reading Railroad’s Turn of the Century Big Dig, Part I

  If one were to explore the neighborhood just north of Callowhill Street between 20th and Broad Street, the casual observer might be perplexed by what appears to be a sunken urban greenway running parallel to Callowhill Street. This trench, some 40 feet wide and 20 feet deep, is now overgrown with trees and littered […]
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Broad Street Station

While intercity travel today primarily involves the automobile or airplane, a century ago the passenger train represented the principal mode of long distance travel. The increasing volume of rail passengers in the late 1800′s required railroads to find efficient ways of delivering passengers to their destinations. In Philadelphia, the problem for the Pennsylvania Railroad was […]
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