A Petaled Rose Of Hell: Refineries, Fire Risk, And The New Geography Of Oil In Philadelphia’s Tidewater


Philadelphia’s refining districts have always beckoned further investigation: sprawling, complex and economically vital their operations shrouded in secrecy, these spaces are deeply paradoxical–hidden in plain sight, seemingly benign in their proximity to our homes, schools, roads and places of business.  Long before Texas tea and OPEC, however, Philadelphia was the seat of petroleum refining, storage and export in the United States beginning in the 1860s.  What started as an innocuous tidewater storage facility on the Schuylkill has become one of the most persistent land uses in the city; all the while Philadelphia has pressed up against the footprints of these massive structures–with dramatic impacts on the region’s economic, ecological and transportation networks.  Now these refineries are poised to enter a new era of productivity with massive amounts of Bakken crude oil arriving by rail from North Dakota.  The arrival of this oil assures these facilities’ competitiveness but it also exposes new facets of the city to strange, heretofore unimagined dangers.

Head on over to Hidden City Daily to check out my latest piece on the ever-evolving geography of hydrocarbon refining’s risks and rewards in the Philadelphia region.

[Big H/T to the various editors, photographers and contributors who brought this piece to fruition:  John Pettit (grandson of an Atlantic Refining/ARCO pipefitter) and at Hidden City, Brad Maule, Pete Woodall and Nathaniel Popkin for their masterful editing.]

3 thoughts on “A Petaled Rose Of Hell: Refineries, Fire Risk, And The New Geography Of Oil In Philadelphia’s Tidewater

  1. Hi Christopher,
    Fantastic article — found first on Hidden City, then tracked back to find you here. I’m working with a group looking to limit some of the damage — locally and globally — of ramping up fossil fuel exports. We’re needing to learn more about who the decision makers are about what aspects of the Energy Hub expansion. I’d appreciate any help you can give us. Cricket
    chunter paipl org

  2. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find the majority
    of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for. can you offer guest
    writers to write content for you? I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you
    write with regards to here. Again, awesome website!

Leave a Reply to Go Compare Business Insurance Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s