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Read All About Philadelphia's Past in the Blog

Philadelphia Trades School (1912).

The photographs on provide a rich visual history of the City of Philadelphia. As they went about photographing the city, the photographers regularly noted when and where they took the photo and gave a brief description of the image.

Often, though, the photos tell a story much larger than just what is listed in the short description. A photograph with the simple title of "Philadelphia Trades School" actually provides a great illustration of the many changes occurring to the educational system in the early 1900s. With a rise in immigration and an increase in urban populations, cities such as Philadelphia tried to encourage children to attend school rather than spend long hours working in factories. Trade schools offered an opportunity to keep people in educational courses while also giving them options for furthering their career opportunities.

'Learning for the Real World' from the Blog.

In order to provide additional information about the photos and the stories they tell about our past, began a blog in May 2006. Each month, the team posts several entries that focus on different aspects of Philadelphia history. Using photographs from, the blog has featured entries on everything from the Broad Street railroad station to the Dempsey-Tunney Fight of 1926 to the Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia. Each entry ends with a list of resources that contain additional information about the topic.

So who writes for the blog? Generally, blog entries are written by members of the PhillyHistory team, many of whom are either current or former graduate students in a history-related field. But we feel very fortunate to also count guest bloggers as part of our group of bloggers, such as local historians, genealogists, or doctoral students. Not all of the writers have a specific history background, but they do have a large amount of knowledge in the topic they research and write on, whether it is in the field of urban planning, education, railroads, or something else.

The result is a blog full of beautiful photographs and well-researched information that provides helpful information about Philadelphia's past. With over 80 entries already available and additional entries posted each month, visit the blog to learn something you never knew about the history of our city!

If you have a suggestion for a blog entry or would like to write one, let us know at


Images scanned in the last 3 months

Total maps and photos scanned and available online

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.

Focus on the Staff

Thanks to the dedicated staff, we keep adding new photos to the website and creating fun features. In this section of the newsletter, we'll give you a glimpse into who helps keep running. This month, say hello to Carissa!

What do you do on
I'm one of two software developers who design and develop Sajara, the software that runs PhillyHistory. I work mainly on the user interface: what you see when you use the site.

Are there any great pieces of Philadelphia history that you've learned from working on PhillyHistory?
I learn something new every time I visit the site, but my favorite was learning about shot towers.

What's one of your favorite PhillyHistory photos?
This photo reminded me of a colosseum or a sports center under construction when I first saw it.

What are People Saying about Here's What Some of You Have Told Us!

"I think your web site is terrific and it is so great that the history of Philadelphia is so easily accessible to everyone."

"Love the site. Please keep up the good work."

"My husband and I have very much enjoyed looking at these pictures. I
appreciate all the hard work done by you and others to load them up so
we can all enjoy them."

"Found your site to be very interesting, and loved the old pictures."

"I am thrilled that not only are you all offering the photos to view (a wonderful thing in itself); but you are actually offering reprints. It is a real gift to us."

Thank you for all the kind words and for supporting!

Do you have something to say about 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' Featured Photo

Northeast Corner - 12th and Market Streets - October 14, 1914.

So Much More than Photographs and Maps! Other Great Historical Resources Available on

We're proud of the 75,000 photos and maps available on In addition to amazing photos of everything from children dressed as pirates to Amelia Earhart to construction of the Frankford El, however, also includes a number of other resources that can be helpful for learning more about Philadelphia's history or do research on particular historical aspects of the city.

The Philadelphia Historic Streets Index.

Over the course of its 300-year existence, the street system of Philadelphia has changed many times. Streets have been added, removed, and re-routed. When various municipalities became part of Philadelphia due to the Act of Consolidation in 1854, there were suddenly many streets in the city with duplicate names. To fix this problem and impose some level of standardization, some streets were renamed in 1858. Other streets were renamed in the 1900s to honor locally or nationally significant individuals. The many changes in street names and locations often made it difficult for researchers, students, and historians to understand the exact location of an event or building. For example, a document from the early 1800s may refer to Hanover Street, but a search of a current Philadelphia street map shows that Hanover no longer exists. Where was the street located?

The Department of Records' Historic Streets Index was created to help solve this confusion and provide some answers. This free online index lists changes in street names that were compiled from various ordinances, street indexes, road records, surveys, and other documents held by the Philadelphia City Archives. To use the index, simply type a street name in the 'Street Name' box on the left side of the page and click the 'Find' button. If the street is included in the index, a list of all changes connected to that street name will load. This list usually includes both the old and new name for the street, the year the name change was recorded, the location along the street where the name change applies, and whether or not the street is still in existence. For example, typing in 'Hanover' shows that in 1858 Hanover Street between the Delaware River and Frankford Avenue was changed to the name Columbia Avenue, the name by which it is still known in that location today. A link to the Department of Records Historic Streets Index is available on

Department of Records' Descriptive Inventory Index.

Along with the Historic Streets Index, contains links to two other indexes from the Philadelphia Department of Records. The Department of Records' Print Index contains an index to the collection of photographic prints held by the Philadelphia City Archives. The index is searchable by date and keyword and provides basic information about each print. While images of the photos are not available through the Print Index, many of the prints are visible on The Department of Records' Descriptive Inventory provides a searchable index of documents held by the Philadelphia City Archives. While the inventory is still a work in progress, it gives a great introduction to the collections held by the City Archives and offers individuals a way to begin their research.

You will also notice that most of the maps available on have a link listed in their 'Detail Page' (after you have clicked on the small thumbnail version of the map) to 'DOR ParcelExplorer'. ParcelExplorer is an online application developed by the Philadelphia Department of Records that enables the public to find parcel information for properties in Philadelphia in exchange for a very minimal fee. Rather than having to find the right map in the right City department, the information is easily available online. Information includes property parcels, transportation parcels, easements, remainder parcels, and multiple real estate transfer tax summary reports. You can read more about ParcelExplorer, here.

Link to the Department of Records' ParcelExplorer Online System.

The Philadelphia City Archives contains a wealth of information about the history of the city. While visiting, check out a few of these other amazing resources!

Philadelphia Stories: Yours, Mine, Ours

In partnership with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Department of Records was excited to display photos from along side images from the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in the recent exhibit Philadelphia Stories: Yours, Mine, Ours. The exhibit was held at the Art Institute of Philadelphia 1622 Chestnut Street gallery from December 3, 2008 - January 23, 2009. A big thank you to everyone who came to see these beautiful photographs!

Although the exhibit has now closed, you can always view wonderful photos from Philadelphia's past at!

Your Neighborhood in Photographs:
Northern Liberties

One of the most helpful features of is the 'Error Report' function. Because of the many users who use error reports to provide us with address corrections or additional information about the photos, we are able to edit the database to make it as accurate as possible. In particular, we are lucky enough to have a very active group of users who are familiar with the Northern Liberties neighborhood. Thanks to these users, we've been able to correct several errors connected to photographs taken in Northern Liberties.

In honor of Northern Liberties, this month's "Your Neighborhood in Photographs" brings you images of the neighborhood from the early 1900s.

Northern Liberties

James Madison School- N. Hancock Street and Green Street - Nov. 6, 1908. Market House- 2nd Street Above Brown Street - Sept. 18, 1914.

Have a Question or a Comment?

With over 75,000 photographs and maps, 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! 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? Or do you just want to make a comment? 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 at, introduce yourself, and tell us what YOU would like to know!