“It will burn for a mile”: Fire Insurance and the Origins of the High Pressure Fire Service

[H.P.F.S. PUMPING STATION — DELAWARE AVE. AND RACE ST.] On March 17, 1900 Philadelphia’s center city business elites balked at the news that two New York fire insurance companies, the Home Insurance Company of New York and the Williamsburg City Insurance Company were instructing their underwriters to stop issuing fire insurance policies to Philadelphia businesses […]

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“Of Graceful Proportions”: Strickland Kneass’s Cast Iron Chestnut St. Bridge

Want to find out why the eastern abutment of the uninspiring Chestnut Street Bridge looks like a cathedral? Check out my post at Phillyhistory.org here. Above is a pretty shoddy overlay of a 1958 HAER photo onto a relatively picture of the bridge taken last April when Penndot was doing a structural investigation of the […]

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The coming petroleum drosscape: Socony-Vacuum Oil Company ruins as case study

These are ruins of an industrial complex once owned by the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company south of Bartram’s Garden in the vicinity of 56th street. The area is described as Gibson’s Point on a 1923 nautical map in the NOAA archives. The facility was designed to supply tank trucks oil and gas for distribution around Philadelphia. […]

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