To view this email as a webpage in your browser, click here.

Philadelphia Water Department Adds Historic Photographs to!

Pipeline, October 18, 1904. is proud to announce the addition of over 1,500 photographs from the collection of the Philadelphia Water Department. Depicting filter plants, reservoirs, pipelines, and other aspects of the city’s water infrastructure, this collection of historic photographs provides a unique visual history of the construction of Philadelphia’s water system. The staff of the Philadelphia Water Department has carefully reviewed and combed through thousands of photographs to select some of the most fascinating and stunning images for inclusion on From photos of the construction of a filter plant in 1901 to images of men digging a pipeline in 1904, the collection of the Philadelphia Water Department shows the hard work and dedication that have gone into providing the city with clean water for over one hundred years.

With the photos added from the Philadelphia Water Department, now features four different collections of historic maps and photographs- Department of Records Archives, Free Library Historic Maps, Department of Records Property Maps, and Philadelphia Water Department Photographs. A different colored watermark with the name of the institution has been created for each collection, making it easy to recognize the images that are part of that collection. A brand new "Collections" pull-down menu search tool has been added in the list of search options on the site to make it very simple to locate items by their collection.

To check out the incredible photos from the Philadelphia Water Department, head to and look for the images with the light green watermark. Many thanks go out to Adam Levine, a consultant for the Water Department, who helped the team assemble all of the metadata and images for loading.

We are thrilled to welcome such a gorgeous collection as part of the website. It is our hope other organizations will continue joining this rich online consortium of digital historic assets, which has now become an essential resource for a multitude of researchers, scholars, educators, and students alike.

Over 5,000 Historic Maps of Philadelphia Are Now Available on

It’s been a busy few months at Along with adding hundreds of photographs from the Philadelphia Water Department, we also made over 5,000 historic maps available on the website. While the 57,000 photographs on provide beautiful images of Philadelphia, maps are another great resource for remembering the past and learning about the city’s history.

Hexamer & Locher Plate 13B- Franklin Square, 1860.

The 5,000 maps come from two separate collections. features a volume of the historical Hexamer & Locher maps courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia and the digital scanning center at the Philadelphia Athenaeum. These maps date from 1858, 1859, and 1860, and cover certain parts of the city. The other collection contains over 4,800 parcel maps from the City of Philadelphia Department of Records. Each map shows several square blocks and the full collection covers much of Philadelphia. More information about the maps can be accessed through links located on the detail page of each map, to ParcelExplorer, the Department of Records' online application that enables users to find detailed information about real estate parcels in the city, and to the Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network.

The maps can be searched using the same search criteria as the photographs. In fact, you can actually search for both photos and maps at the same time. On the search page, set your search criteria and then click the grey search button. The results page will contain both maps and photos that fit your criteria. To view any maps resulting from your search, simply click on the ‘Maps’ tab located above the thumbnail images. The maps follow traditional map orientation with north located at the top of the image. Visit and discover an entire new way to investigate the history of Philadelphia! Did It Again!.. and Won Another Prize just won the 2008 Henry Magaziner, EFAIA Award.

This award recognizes an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to the preservation of our built environment. The Historic Preservation Committee of AIA Philadelphia says: “The City Archives have long been the first stop for architects and preservationists documenting the precise history of both important landmarks and vernacular building. With, this resource is now easier to use and more accessible to the general public.” Congratulations, everyone!

Who? What? Where? Researching the Stories Behind the Photos

Many of the photographs on are connected to a rich amount of information. Thanks to notes made by the photographers or earlier archivists, we know the location where the photo was taken, the date, the photographer, and maybe even a description of the event, people, or scene.

For other images, however, there is just not a lot of information to be found. In those cases, we include the data that we do know and hope that some eagle-eyed users might be able to figure out the location or even the subject of the image. On the detail view page for each photo is an option to submit an error report. If you ever see a photo and think you might know some info about it or the location it depicts, just click on that error report link, which will send a message straight to the staff working at the archives. It is a great feature to ensure we have the most accurate information possible.

Sometimes, though, we’re just stumped.

We know the above photo was taken in 1890 as a glass plate negative and has the title of “Sports” but that’s all the information we have. So we're looking for a bit of help. What do you think? Are they playing tennis? Baseball? In 1890, what location near Philadelphia would have hills and houses like that? Was the photo even taken in Philadelphia? And how exactly did they run around in those dresses? If you have any ideas, let us know at

Your Neighborhood in Photographs:
West Poplar and West Powelton

With the ability to search for photos of dozens of neighborhoods in Philadelphia, it is completely understandable that some neighborhoods might not be searched quite as often as they deserve. So to showcase the beautiful photographs and remarkable buildings in two neighborhoods worthy of a bit more attention, this month’s “Your Neighborhood in Photographs” brings you historic images of West Poplar and West Powelton.

West Poplar

Southwest Corner of Broad Street and Ridge Avenue, 1924. Oliver P. Cornman School- 12th Street and Melon Street, 1931.

West Powelton

4260-4264 Powelton Avenue, 1950. Market Street Subway- East of 42nd Street, 1949.

Have a Question?

With over 59,000 photographs, dozens of blog entries, an entire Fine Art Collection, and a website full of special features, contains a wealth of information. Now we're looking for some information from you! The team is putting out a "Call for Questions." Do you have a question about a certain photograph? Are you wondering about how we geocode or map the location of certain photos? Are you curious about information in a blog entry? Do you have the perfect suggestion for a new feature? Let us know! As we continuously revise, expand, and add more photographs to the website, we want to ensure that remains a location where people find the answers to their inquiries, the solutions to their history mysteries, and the perfect refresher for their memories. We welcome your questions and comments at all times. So when you get a chance, send us an e-mail to, introduce yourself, and tell us what YOU would like to know!



Images scanned in the last 3 months

Maps added in the last 3 months

Total maps and photos scanned

Unique Visitors in the last 3 months

The Philadelphia City Archives are one of the country's largest municipal archives, with an estimated 2 million photographs that date from the late 1800’s. These gorgeous pictures paint a stunning portrait of Philadelphia and its industry, architecture, culture and people.

New Addictive PhillyHistory Features

Another newsletter and another batch of new features. We love keeping you addicted to!

You might have noticed that we’ve done a bit of rearranging. With so many different ways to search the database, we wanted to organize the search options in an intuitive, easy- to-use manner. Since locating images by address or intersection is one of the most used features, we placed the “Address” search right at the top of the list. To make the search process as efficient as possible, you can also now set multiple search criteria before clicking the “Search” button to retrieve images from the database.

Thanks to the addition of photographs from the Philadelphia Water Department, now features four different collections of photographs and maps. With that many collections, it seemed like a great time to add a feature that enables users to search for items by collection. In the list of search options, click on the “Collections” button and select the collections from which you would like to view photographs and maps. It’s another great way to search the database and find the exact images you want!

We love helpful little details on You’ve probably seen that each photo and map on the search page is labeled with a little red or blue flag that corresponds to a flag on the map. With this new feature, there’s no more trying to match the letter on the flag by the photo with the letter on the map. Instead, just click on the flag on the map and view a detail page of the image associated with that location!

For those of you who have been using these features, we’d love to hear how they have improved your experience on and if you have any suggestions for future changes. Let us know at

This message was sent to you as an enrolled user of, the City of Philadelphia Department of Records web-based photographic collection. To subscribe to this list, e-mail with the subject 'subscribe'