Take Me To The River: Wm. Penn’s Wood St. Steps


Aside from the Caleb Pusey House, the demolished Slate House, the recreated Pennsbury Manor, there are few artifacts of the built environment that have associations to William Penn. One of the most pedestrian relics bearing the imprint of the Proprietor is the Wood Street Steps, located between Front and Water Streets, on the border between Old City and the Northern Liberties.

Penn knew how his utopian religious experiment was inextricably linked to the commercial health of the City and in the late 17th century decreed that a set of steps be built on every east-west street fronting the wharfs on the Delaware. While the Wood Street Steps are not original [the Historical Commission believes they may date from the 1730s to 1780s] these are the last remaining steps of their kind in Philadelphia.






5 thoughts on “Take Me To The River: Wm. Penn’s Wood St. Steps

  1. I just LOVE your entries! I’ve been reading about the early immigrants living in caves until they found our built lodgings. Are there any shreds of evidence left of them? Did anyone ever do any archaeological digging on the site? Thanks again for your great posts.

  2. I’ve spent an hour reading your blog. It’s INCREDIBLE—I’m putting it in my reader and will be exploring the archives. . .and wishing I could move to philadelphia.

  3. I have lived on the demolition crumbs since 1984. the richness of the buildings in philly .all of our stuff is valuable and my biggest fight is to keep it from being very efficiently hauled to landfills. great story on the steps

  4. There used to be several sets of these steps, ordered by Wm Penn so that fresh air could enter the city (most of the surrounding buildings were large warehouses that blocked the river air). See “Philadelphia’s Lost Waterfront” by Harry Kyriakodis for more information.

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