Hog Island Shipyard: Context and Discoveries

[GOOGLE EARTH/HOG ISLAND SHIPYARD OVERLAY SHOWING SHIPWAYS] My essay on the machine island of Hog Island is available on Phillyhistory.org.  In that forum I present a nuts-and-bolts overview of the establishment of the facility, if a little indebted to James J. Martin’s revisionist essay on the mismanagement of the site. Martin’s essay, “The Saga of… Read More Hog Island Shipyard: Context and Discoveries

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

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

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.… Read More The coming petroleum drosscape: Socony-Vacuum Oil Company ruins as case study

Workshop of the World At War: the USMC Quartermaster Depot

As “workshop of the world” Philadelphia proved vital during the two industrial world wars of the last century. Positioned in the center of what would be termed the east coast megalopolis, Philadelphia became an entrepot for guns, ammunition, tents, uniforms, mosquito nets, lockers, helmets, knives, ships, and other supplies during both World War I and… Read More Workshop of the World At War: the USMC Quartermaster Depot