Remnants of Philadelphia’s Gas Network

Although Charles Wilson Peale had been using coal gas to light his museum of oddities in Independence Hall as early as 1816 and the Chestnut Street Theater had gas lighting by 1822, city leaders rejected the idea of leaky gas tanks and were cold to the the idea of a city sponsored gas works in the early 19th century. That was until Samuel Merrick, a fire engine builder and founder of the Franklin Institute decided to get himself elected to council vowing to bring the city into the 19th century. By 1835 the ambitious Merrick had erected a facility at 24th and Chestnut Sts. on the model of London’s Regency Park Gas Works and a year later the ornately detailed facility was producing enough gas to light 2nd Street from South to Vine Sts.

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