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The Library Company Joins Discover Philadelphia in the 1850s

Visitors to will now have the chance to view amazing photographs of Philadelphia in the 1850s and 1860s. Thanks to a collaboration with the Library Company of Philadelphia, images of the streets, buildings, and people of mid-nineteenth century Philadelphia are now available to view, purchase, and share on

Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company of Philadelphia is an independent research library with vast collections of materials relating to American history and culture in the 17th through 19th centuries. Among these materials are several collections of photographs dating to the mid-1800s. Three of these collections – the James McClees Philadelphia Photograph Collection, the Frederick De Bourg Richards Photograph Collection, and the Montgomery P. Simons Philadelphia Stereograph Collection – are now available on

Among these two hundred images taken just decades after the invention of photography are photographs depicting a Civil War recruiting camp outside Independence Hall, the ruins of the northeast corner of 6th and Market Streets after an 1856 fire, and the Western Exchange Hotel at 15th and Market, which was then the western end of many omnibus lines. By including these images on, the PhillyHistory and Library Company teams hope to introduce the photographs to new audiences and make the images available via your smart phone. Each image is linked to a full record in the Library Company’s online image catalog where more information and other image collections are available.

These three collections mark just the beginning of the collaboration between the Library Company and the Department of Records as the Library Company hopes to upload more image collections to in the near future. The Library Company of Philadelphia is also the first non-government organization joining the PhillyHistory consortium. It is our hope there will be many more to come. The consortium is now the home of 10 collections from 5 Philadelphia organizations.

Are you amazed by Philadelphia in the 1850s? Let us know what you think at


Total maps and photos scanned and available online

Unique Visitors in the last 4 months

The Philadelphia City Archive is 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. Here we'll give you a glimpse into who helps keep running. This month, say hello to Leslie, Timothy, and Hillary, our 2010 interns!

What do you do on
We have have been busy creating new records on PhillyHistory and adding more photos every week. We also respond to digitization requests and investigate the error reports submitted by users.

Are there any great pieces of Philadelphia history that you've learned from working on PhillyHistory?

Hillary: I didn't know that there used to be an aquarium at the Fairmount Water Works, so learning about that was pretty neat.

Leslie: In North Philadelphia, at the corner of Broad Street and Lehigh Street, once stood the first modern baseball stadium. It was built in 1887 and demolished in 1950. Driving past this location today, you would have no idea that this was once the site of Philadelphia's first stadium.

Timothy: Most of Philly's natural creeks were used as sewers until the late-19th century. When people realized that the creeks had become disgusting cesspools, the city simply laid pipes in these creeks and called them our new sewers.

What's one of your favorite PhillyHistory photos?

Hillary: Parking Garage, 11th & Market, Dedication Ceremony, 1962

Leslie: Aerial photography has always been fascinating to me and this one of the Ritz Carlton Building was taken in 1914. This photograph reminds me a bit of Berenice Abbott's Night View of New York (1932).

Timothy: I have a lot of favorite photos. My most recent favorite is Civil Defense Sign-West Side-Roosevelt Boulevard, 1951.

Do you have something to say about Let us know at or go to and tell the world!

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Planes, Parades, and Presidents: Discover Photos from the New Collection from the Office of the City Representative

The team is excited to announce the addition of historic photographs from the collection of the City of Philadelphia Office of the City Representative. Featuring images of everything from planes (a Spirit of St. Louis reproduction arriving at Northeast airport) to parades (Mummers marching near City Hall) to presidents (President John F. Kennedy speaking at Independence Hall), these exciting images capture historic events in our city and country’s history.

For decades, the City of Philadelphia Office of the City Representative has developed and promoted events throughout the city. Over the course of their history, they have taken thousands of photographs documenting everything from parades and festivities to visits by political dignitaries and celebrities to activities at local recreation centers. Unseen for years, these images are being made available to the general public on where they can be purchased, shared with friends, downloaded to Google Earth, and accessed via your smart phone.

While the full collection of images numbers in the tens of thousands, over 500 images are already available on Over the next few months, the team will be hard at work cataloging, numbering, and scanning hundreds of additional images. Check back often to see new photographs from the amazing collection of the Office of the City Representative.

We're Scanning Again!

Original photo log listing data for the photos that are part of the 'Water and Streets' record group.

It’s been a busy few months at PhillyHistory. In addition to the great images from the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Office of the City Representative, we are excited to announce that we are once again adding images from the City Archives collections to Thanks to the work of our diligent interns, we will be creating records on and uploading new photographs throughout the summer and fall months. Visit now to check out the over 7,600 new images added since May!

So what type of images can you expect to see? We are currently working on a collection of photographs that were taken in the early 1960s and belong to the Water and Streets record group. Many of these images depict construction projects including the laying of water and sewer pipes. While documenting these projects, the photographers also captured fascinating images of residential neighborhoods, the construction of new housing developments, and the life of the community. There are even a few images of festive sanitation parades and local softball teams. Quite a few of the images were taken in Far Northeast Philadelphia although all sections of the city are represented.

For the next few months, we will be digitally preserving these images and organizing the physical negatives in new archival quality envelopes and boxes. Images will be added to several times a week. For more information on how we preserve these images, check out our Behind the Scenes page on

Of course, we can’t talk about how excited we are to scan images again without saying a huge thank you to all of you! By purchasing prints and photo gifts of PhillyHistory images, you help contribute to the project and ensure that we can continue to preserve these images for future generations. Your contributions through feedback, email, error reports, and digitization requests are also incredibly vital for helping us develop a more complete and accurate database. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

New Life for Old Images

We love hearing about all the ways that people use photographs. Many PhillyHistory users purchase prints of images to give as gifts or to decorate their houses. Others share images on Facebook or Twitter, comment on the PhillyHistory Flickr account, or send photos to friends and family via email. Thanks to all of you for helping to spread the word about the images you love.

Some people take it a step further and use PhillyHistory images in their own online projects. In a series of videos on YouTube, one person chose several images from PhillyHistory, set them to music, and created a film history of several Philadelphia neighborhoods. You can view “In the Hood: Between the Wars” here. Another PhillyHistory user traveled to the locations where some of the most popular PhillyHistory images were taken and photographed the present-day landscape. He combined the current and historic images on a website called Rephotographing Philadelphia.

These projects and others like them show the many ways that photos can be used to show the history of our city. How have you used PhillyHistory images? Let us know at

Do You Want to Make the Site Better? Let Us Know What You Think.

Several months ago, we conducted a survey to gather feedback from users and learn more about what new features people wanted to see on the website. Overwhelmingly, the survey responses called for the addition of more photographs! We’re happy to report that we’ve begun scanning images again and will continue adding new photos throughout the fall. Thank you to the hundreds of supporters who took the winter survey. The site would not be the same without your feedback.

Now that we’ve implemented some of the suggestions from the first survey, we’d like to gather some additional information. What is doing well? Where can we improve? What would you like to see changed on the website?

You can make your opinion known and assist us in making PhillyHistory an even better site by taking our PhillyHistory survey at:

This survey is only 6 questions and should not take more than 5 minutes of your time. Your responses are greatly appreciated and are an invaluable resource as we apply for grants to support

Is there a photo that you've always wanted? Take the survey by September 6 and have a chance to win an 8x10 print of the photo of your choice! To show our appreciation for your support of, we are offering a free 8x10 print of a photo to one randomly selected individual who submits a survey response.

Please contact us at with any questions, and thank you for your participation and support!