|Introduction||Historical Background||Chronology||Geography||Biography||Technology||Ownership and Financing||General Bibliography|
|Middle Atlantic States||Pennsylvania||Philadelphia|
Philadelphia was founded in 1682 by William Penn.
The first water system in Philadelphia was proposed by the Delaware and Schuylkill Canal Company, whose 1792 charter included the right to supply water to the City of Philadelphia. This company advertised for iron pipes in 1796 and attempted to secure financial support from the city and state, but was unsuccessful.
After suffering through yellow fever epidemics in 1793 and 1798, the city decided to build water works and engaged Benjamin Latrobe to design them and supervise the construction. The system began service with two steam engines and elevated tanks holding about 17,094 ale gallons at Centre Square (shown below) on January 21, 1801. Wooden logs were initially used, with many provided by Caleb Leach. A few cast iron pipes were installed in 1801 on an experimental basis, but not widely used for many years due to the high cost and limited availability.
|The Pump House on Centre Square, depicted in William Birch’s Views of Philadelphia in 1800.||"Centre Square Philad'a." From The Casket. Philadelphia, October, 1831||John James Barralet. "Centre Square. Erected in 1800. Taken Down in 1828." Philadelphia: Public Ledger, 1860.|
Latrobe left in 1803 and John Davis assumed the job of superintendent. He in turn left in late 1804 and Frederick Graff was appointed superintendent and remaining in that position until his death in 1847, except for a short period in 1815 when he resigned to his low salary, but was rehired with increased pay soon after as the Watering Committee was unable to find a qualified replacement. Graff kept Latrobe's system running despite severe technical problems until a new pumping station at Fairmont began service on September 7, 1815 using steam engines pumping water into two elevated reservoirs holding a total of two million gallons. The Centre Square engine house was demolished in 1827 and the bricks were used to build a new sewer.
|Centre Square Water Works - 1801||High Pressure Steam Engine in Fairmount Water Works - 1817|
The steam engines at Fairmount were expensive to operate and a dam was constructed across the Schuylkill River that allowed water power to drive the pumps starting in 1822. This increased the amount of water that could be supplied, and the City of Philadelphia contracted to provide water to other districts in Philadelphia County:
||Date of Contract
|Spring Garden||April 26, 1826||Spring Garden and Northern Liberties decided to build their own plant to distribute Schuylkill water, rather than pay the high cost of Philadelphia water. This plant came on line in December, 1844 and the two districts contracted to serve Kensington in March, 1845. The plant also served the District of Penn starting around 1852.|
|Southwark||June 1, 1826||Contract extended for ten years in 1845.|
|Northern Liberties||June 6, 1826|
|Moyamensing||January 6, 1832||Contract extended for ten years in 1845.|
|Kensington||October 5, 1833||Contracted with Spring Garden and Northern Liberties for a water supply from their new plant in March, 1845. Kensington decided to build its own plant to distribute water from the Delaware river, which was completed in 1851. This plant also served the District of Richmond.|
All of the above were taken over by the Philadelphia Water Department in 1854, at which time the city also acquired the unfinished West Philadelphia pumping plant. The city acquired the Germantown Water Company in 1866 and the Chestnut Hill Water Company in 1873.
An outbreak of typhoid in 1890 demonstrated the need for filtration (and later disinfection), which could not be done on the Fairmont site due to lack of space. It was abandoned in 1911 and eventually became a museum.
Water is currently provided by the City of Philadelphia Water Department, which has a history page.
measured water in "beer or ale gallons" (282 cubic inches per gallon)
until switching to the standard "wine gallon" of 231 cubic inches per
gallon in 1855. The ale gallon is therefore 22% larger than a wine
gallon. See 1855 reference below.
1788 The Life of Benjamin Franklin, Written by Himself: Now First Edited from Original Manuscripts and from His Printed Correspondence and Other Writings, Volume 3, edited by John Bigelow, 1875
Page 483-484: [Excerpt from Franklin's will and codicil dated July 17, 1788, in which he left a bequest of £1000 to the City of Philadelphia, which he calculated would be worth £131,000 after one hundred years, £100,000 of which was to be used for public works.] All the directions herein given, respecting the disposition and management of the donation to the inhabitants of Philadelphia, only, as Philadelphia is incorporated, I request the corporation of that city to undertake the management agreeably to the said directions; and I do hereby vest them with full and ample powers for that purpose. And, having considered that the covering a ground plot with buildings and pavements, which carry off most of the rain and prevent its soaking into the Earth and renewing and purifying the Springs, whence the water of wells must gradually grow worse, and in time be unfit for use, as I find has happened in all old cities, I recommend that at the end of the first hundred years, if not done before, the corporation of the city Employ a part of the hundred thousand pounds in bringing, by pipes, the water of Wissahickon Creek into the town, so as to supply the inhabitants, which I apprehend may be done without great difficulty, the level of the creek being much above that of the city, and may be made higher by a dam.
act to enable the Governor of this Commonwealth to Incorporate a Company
for Opening a Canal and Water Communications between the Rivers Delaware
and Schuylkill, and for other purposes therein mentioned, April 10,
[Section IV.] And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said president and managers shall have power to form dry and wet docks for the accommodation of vessels, near the city of Philadelphia, to communicate with the waters of the said canal, and to supply the city of Philadelphia, and the neighborhood thereof, with water, by means of pipes and other conductors under the public roads, streets and alleys, conveying water from thence for the use of such persons, as will agree to pay for the same such annual prices as shall be established by the said president and managers. Provided always, that they shall immediately repair any injury which they may do to said roads, streets or alleys, by means of laying down or repairing any of the said pipes or conductors, and give as little obstruction to the use of the said roads, streets or alleys as the nature of the works will admit. Provided also, That the said company shall not be entitled to any greater price for water to supply the city, and neighborhood thereof, than will create the annual profit of ten per centum on the capital that may and shall be expended for that particular purpose, exclusive of the general expense of the canal.
1795 An act to enable the president and managers of the Schuylkill and Susquehanna navigation and the Delaware and Schuylkill canal navigation to raise by lottery the sum of $400,000 for completing the works in their acts of incorporation, April 17, 1795.
of the United States, March 31, 1796, Page 3
The President and Managers of the Delaware and Schuylkill Canal, having determined to supply the City of Philadelphia with water, early in the year 1797, Proposals will be received in writing until the first day of June next, from any person or persons disposed to contract for the casting and delivery of Iron Pipes necessary for the above purpose.
By the Board, WILLIAM MOORE SMITH, Sec'ry
of the United States, January 17, 1797, page 2
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met.
The Memorial of the president and managers of the Schuylkill and Susquehannah canal navigation, and the Delaware and Schuylkill canal--[Asking for aid from the legislature, canal information not included]
...and especially by the rich supply of pure and wholesome water, which it is intended to distribute to every house in our metropolis, as well for family use, as for the great purpose of preventing and subduing the ravages of fire--that dreadful foe to life and property, when not under our command.
On this subject, your memorialists beg leave to enlarge, in two distinct views.
First, with respect to pure and wholesome water in great towns, and cities, a writer in a late Boston paper, speaking of the great aqueduct now constructing in that metropolis to supply the houses and shipping, justly observes "That aqueduct water from rivers and pure springs, save half the expence in soap and half the labour in washing linen: that the ease with which it is washed may make another saving in the war of the linen in washing nearly equal to the above. But a more interesting consideration and important benefit, is its tendency to increase the means to preserve health, as water enters into all of our food and drink. Our philosophers agree that health depends most essentially on the purity of this element. It is observed also that all water continually grows worse in cities by the constant accumulation of matter which sinks into the earth; so that all well-water in old cities becomes extremely unwholesome and increases the bills of mortality; and therefore to have water pure and plenty in cities, by every way increasing the means of cleanliness, as well as by rendering the system of nutrition more wholesome, must be the highest consequence to prevent putrid and pestilential fevers and other fatal diseases." The same writer mentions also the additional security from fire, which is to be derived from plenty of water duly distributed through out great cities; and concludes with a just pride, that "Boston will be the first large city in the United States thus accommodated."
Who is there among us, that can call to his remembrance, the number of valuable citizens, swept from us by the pestilential fever of 1793--when the heavens were as iron bound over our heads, without a drop of water for many weeks, and when, under Providence, had our canal system been in operation, the fever might have been prevented, or its rage soon subdued? Or who is there, that reads the late accounts of the dreadful fires at New-York, Baltimore, Savannah, and other places, with the failure of their well and pump water, or its inadequacy to subdue the conflagrations? Who is there, we say, that considers such dreadful calamities, and would set down to count the cost of preventing them if withing our power; when the loss of property, by one single conflagration, may sometimes exceed the whole cost of an artificial supply of water? As to the loss of valuable citizens by pestilential diseases, all cost of prevention vanishes on the comparison; not to mention that when canals and aqueducts of this kind are once duly constructed and finished for great cities, they continue for the benefit of our children, and childrens children, to the latest generations. In this view then, when the legislature by a liberal aid, shall have established a confidence in the work, and assured the public mind that this canal will speedily be completed, your memoralists cannot doubt but that the citizens of Philadelphia, so highly interested in its success, with their usual liberality and public spirit, by subscribing for new shares, or by a generous loan, will supply every remaining deficiency in the funds. And the completing of one canal will, by the example of its utility, insure the completion of the other; and even add to the means, by converting the surplus emolument (beyond what the low allows to the stockholders) to the use of the other canal, if necessary, or to other similar improvements.
All which is respectfully submitted. Signed by order and on behalf of the joint board. ROBERT MORRIS, President. December 24, 1796
1797 Supplement to "An act to enable the president and managers of the Schuylkill and Susquehanna navigation and the Delaware and Schuylkill canal navigation to raise by way of lottery the sum of $400,000 for completing the works in their acts of incorporation." March 17, 1797
Gazette (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), December 7, 1797, Page 951
Dr. [David] Ramsay of South Carolina has presented to the medical society of that State, a memoir on the autumnal epidemic, or yellow fever, in which he wrongly recommends the introduction of fresh water from the county into Charleston. He remarks that the water of Charleston is not good, and is constantly growing worse, from the filth of vaults and graveyards.
He supposes pure water may be obtained in pipes from a source near the ten mile stone.
The utility of a supply of fresh wholesome water for all large cities will become annually more and more apparent. New-York is supplied with pure water from an inexhaustable source, but at a great expense; for is the water conducted in pipes, so as to furnish a large quantity to extinguish fire or wash the streets. Besides the hill and part of the city which furnishes this source of water if nearly covered with inhabitants, and in time the water will be impregnated with impure particles. Good water cannot be expected beneath old cities; therefore early attention should be paid to the introduction of this second elementary principle of life from remote resources. [Dr. D. Ramsay's paper on the impurity of the water of Charleston, Medical Society of South Carolina, December 1, 1797.]
1797 "A Letter, to Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton, on supplying the City of Philadelphia with Water. Boston, December 18, 1797," by James Sullivan, The Weekly Magazine, Volume 22, Number 22 (June 30, 1798) This letter was reprinted in several newspapers. Sullivan was involved in the Boston Aqueduct Company and later served as its president.
1797 Proposal by the The President, Managers, and Company of the Delaware and Schuylkill Canal Navigation, To the Select and Common Councils of the City of Pennsylvania., December 19, 1797.
1798 Report of the Joint Committee of the Select and Common Councils, on the subject of bringing water to the city. January 31, 1798.
1798 Gazette of the
United States (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), August 9, 1798, Page 3.
The Grand Aqueduct at Boston, is just finished; by this noble work of enterprize, the town is supplied with pure water, from a distance of four miles.
of the Practicability and Means of Supplying the City of Philadelphia
with wholesome water, in a letter to John Miller, Esquire., from B.
Henry Latrobe, Engineer, December 29, 1798
Page 16: To bring water, in pipes of any description, a yard further than necessary requires, is very bad economy.
1799 Address of the Committee of the Delaware and Schuylkill Canal Company, to the Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives, on the Memorial of Said Company. January 19, 1799.
1799 Remarks on the address of the Committee of the Delaware and Schuylkill Canal Company to the Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives, as far as it notices the "View of the practicability and means of supplying the city of Philadelphia with wholesome water." by Benjamin Latrobe, January 21, 1799.
1799 Remarks on a second publication of B. Henry Latrobe, Engineer, said to be printed by order of the Committee of the Councils [of the City] and distributed among the members of the Legislature. January 26, 1799
1799 An Ordinance Providing for the raising of a Sum of Money for supplying the City of Philadelphia with Wholesome Water. February 7, 1799.
1799 Report of the Joint Committee of the Select and Common Councils, appointed to Receive Information on the Subject of Watering the City, and to Employ Agents, when necessary, for promoting that Object. February 26, 1799. Report on the steam engine contract with Nicholas Roosevelt.
1799 An answer to the Joint Committee of the Select and Common Councils of Philadelphia, on the subject of a plan for supplying the city with water, &c, by Benjamin Latrobe, March 2, 1799.
Gazette, March 25, 1799, page 3.
Extract of a letter from a gentleman of intelligence and information in Bethlehem, to his correspondent in this city, dated February 1.
"With pleasure I answer your's--I have several times read Mr. Latrobe's Report, concerning the supplying the city of Philadelphia with water. My wish is, that is may be adopted without hesitation or delay. In no part do I think it impracticable. It appears the only advisable method of effecting it to the purpose required. I also perceive the clashing it occasions with the proprietors of the Canal; but interest on such occasions, and in matters of such great moment, ought not to raise its head. As to pipes, we have had the yellow and pitch pine. Good pitch or yellow pine pipes have lasted 30 years, 2 1/2 inch bore. No inconvenience with regard to the taste, and indeed our water was better and cooler than we have it at present through leaden pipes. Here, it is to be observed, that a tree for a 4 inch bore should have 12 inches grain (heart) to leave 4 inches wood. The sap will not last 2 years--the 12 inches must be at the thin end. The next best is white oak; in Nazareth the pipes are all white oak, the water excellent, no taste of the wood, and have lasted 20 years. When our water works were first erected we have pine pipes from the machinery to the reservoir. The pine was very troublesome--we have to put many rings round the pipes, and yet we could not make them tight--the weight of the water, &c. would burst them. We then used gum, a wood that will not split, but will last only about 12 years--yields no taste to the water. If good yellow pine of the size mentioned in the gain of the smallest end (but straight it must be by all means, otherwise the hole will come too near the sap and will not last at all) it ought to be preferred to any other: but if it is not of this description, and every stick alike, white oak is preferable; for only one piece is bad in an extent of a compressed water course, the while is useless until that spot is repaired. Mr. Henry, to whome I shewed your letter, gives the preference to white oak. I wish good success to the undertaking, and anything required of me, will always be communicated with pleasure."
1799 "New Invention," Albany
Centinel, May 17, 1799, Page 3.
The subscriber has invented a Subaquatic Engine, (for which he has obtained a patent under the seal of the United States of America,) for the purpose of raising water at a very small expense, to operate Mills, water Cities, Towns, and Villages. He may be spoken with at the public house of DAVID TROWBRIDGE, in Green-street, Albany, any time within two days from this date. JOSEPH HUNTLY. May 17, 1799.
1799 Gazette of the
United States (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), August 31, 1799, Page 3.
The Water-Works of the Manhattan Company progress with astonishing rapidity, Pipes are already laid through Chapel-street nearly down to Pearl-street – a distance of half a mile from the source – and in a month hence we may expect that Pearl, from Chapel-street down, will be completely supplied with pure water.
1799 Report to the Select and Common Councils on the progress and state of the Water Works, on the 24th of November, 1799.
Ordinance," Philadelphia Gazette, March 11, 1801, Page 2.
For regulating the distribution of water in the City of Philadelphia.
Section III. Subscribers to the loan entitled to use water for three years from the first of July next, or three years after pipes have been laid in the streets before their houses.
Section IV. Any citizen who is not a subscriber to the said loan shall be entitled to receive water at the rates of five dollars per annum for private dwelling houses.
Philadelphia Gazette. April 6, 1801, Page 2
Robert McCoomb and John Jacob Brown suffocated while working on the Schuylkill Engine House boiler.
1801 Report. The joint committee, to whom was referred the memorial and remonstrance of Nicholas J. Roosevelt,
1801 Plan and Profile of Philadelphia's First Water Supply System, designed and constructed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 1799-1801. Based upon data supplied by the Bureau of Surveys, &c, 1904-1905.
of the Committee for the introduction of wholesome water into the City
of Philadelphia, October 12, 1801
Page 6-7: In the Distribution much difficulty has been experienced on account of the leakage of the pipes of conduit, and the devices connected to them. Most of those difficulties have been surmounted. Perseverance, and the knowledge which is only to be acquired by experience, will, it is hoped, finally prevail over the rest. In the opinion of some gentlemen, iron has been thought to be the best material for pipes; and, in order to procure a fair experiment, the committee have obtained a few feet, which are now at the Centre-square, and appear to be well cast. Directions have been given to place these pipes, fourteen in number, each six feet long, under the greatest pressure of the water, in order to prove a method of securing their joints, which it is supposed will be substantial, and cheaper than the common mode.
of the Committee appointed by the Common Council to enquire into the
state of the Water Works. December 5, 1801
Page 48: Twenty-nine thousand nine hundred and sixty-three feet of pipe are now laid.
Page 52: Thirty-six houses supplied for subscribers to the water loan, being free of water rent, till July 1st, 1804.
Page 54: Twenty-seven houses supplied with water on rent at 5 dollars per annum. Four breweries, two fountains, and one sugar refinery at 24 dollars.
Page 61: Robeson & Paul, iron pipes, $128.62.
Page 80: From the specimen we have had of the iron pipe which has been delivered and tried at the Center Square, there is no doubt of its answering effectually for the purpose intended--and though the first cost will be much greater than wooden pipe, yet, ultimately, it may be the cheapest.
|The cost of that delivered is,||1.53|
|Fitting up, including leaden joints,||8|
|Digging the pipe-trench and filling up,||7|
|Labour in laying the pipe||3|
Making the whole cost of
six inch cast iron pipe, of three quarters of an inch thick, to be one
dollar seventy-one cents per foot, running measure, when laid, all
expences, except re-paving over them, included.
The four and one-half inch pipe, need not, perhaps, be more than five-eighths of an inch thick. This would cost, if procured at the same rate per ton as the six inch, not more than one dolalr twenty and one half cents per foot, running measure, when laid excepting paving, as above.
Page 81: Yellow pine pipe may be laid for about sixty to seventy cents per foot, either with spigot and fawcet joints, as now practiced, or with the cast iron cylinder joints joines, as mentioned above; including every expence but repaving.
1801 Schuylkill Water Works building
1802 Report of the Joint Committee Appointed by the Select and Common Councils for the Purpose of Superintending and Directing the Water Works, December 6, 1802.
traveller's directory, or, A pocket companion: shewing the course of
the main road from Philadelphia to New York, and from Philadelphia to
Washington : with descriptions of the places through which it passes,
and the intersections of the cross roads : illustrated with an account
of such remarkable objects as are generally interesting to travellers:
from actual survey, by S. S. Moore and T. W. Jones
Pages 15-16: The Water Works are, in point of magnitude, utility, and advantage, by far the greatest work yet attempted in this state: the works consist of the following parts: In the bed of the Schuylkill, a basin has been formed, three feet deeper than low water mark: this basin is protected by a wall, next to the river, of wrought granite, one hundred and seventy two feet long, and sixteen feet thick at the base; in the centre of this wall is a sluice, either to admit or exclude the entrance of the water into the basin: at the upper end thereof there is another wall and sluice, admitting the water to the canal, forty feet wide, and two hundred feet long; at the east end of which is a subterraneous tunnel that conveys the water into a well, over which is a steam engine, capable of raising above 4,500,000 gallons of water in twenty four hours: this is conveyed through a tunnel, along Chesnut and Broad Streets, into the centre of Market Street. In Centre Square, the water is received into a marble edifice, containing a steam engine of equal force with the former, which raises the water into a reservoir forty six feet high, from whence it descends through pipes into various parts of the city; and, in several instances, has abundantly proved its great utility, by a speedy and plentiful supply of water in the extinguishment of fires.
The building in the Centre Square, is a perfect square of sixty feet, having a doric portico on the east and west fronts: a circular tower of forty feet diameter rises, terminated by a dome, whose height is sixty feet. The building is faced with marble, the dome is constructed of brick, laid in cement: The Reservoir is of marble, and capable of holding 20,000 gallons. The shafts of the columns of the porticoes consist each of one single block of marble. The simplicity of the stile of this building, and its conspicuous situation, render it a pleasing object, when viewed at a distance.
1803 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils of Philadelphia, November 1, 1803.
1804 Report of the
Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, November 1,
Page 4: The quantity of pipe which has been laid in various parts of the city this season, if about thirty-two thousand five hundred and fifty feet, of which twenty-eight thousand five hundred and seventy-two is of wood, and three thousand nine hundred and seventy-eight feet iron, exclusive of nineteen hundred feet used in repairs.
1804 "First Report of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, to the American Philosophical Society, held at Philadelphia; in answer to the enquiry of the Society of Rotterdam, "Whether any, and what improvements have been made in the construction of Steam-Engines in America?" May 20, 1803, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 6:89-98 (1804)
1805 "Schuylkill Water,"
United States' Gazette, August 10, 1805, Page 2.
We frequently hear the question asked "Why is the Schuylkill water stopped?" It has lately become a question of considerable interest, and if those concerned in the business can answer it satisfactorily, they would find their interest in doing so, as the blame is now very generally laid upon them. If it be necessary, from any cause whatever, to stop the water two or three times a week, can it not be done at stated periods, so that those who wish may furnish themselves with a quantity before hand?
1805 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, October 7th, 1805
1805 The Ordinances of the Corporation of the City of Philadelphia
1806 Report of the
Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, November 13,
Page 5: The number of houses supplied with Schuylkill water amounts to 848, of which 318 are under water rights.
act to authorize Robert Kennedy, his heirs and assigns, to dig and
support a mill race, in, and adjacent to the river Schuylkill, near its
falls. April 9, 1807.
And Provided Also, That if at any time hereafter the corporation of the city of Philadelphia, shall be desirous of erecting any works or machinery for the purpose of conducting the waters of the said river to the said city, the right so to erect is hereby reserved.
1807 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, November 13, 1807
1808 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, November 24, 1808
1809 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, November 2, 1809
1810 Section through the Engine House of the Centre Square Water Works, Philadelphia, drawn by Frederick Graff.
1810 Report of the Watering Committee, November 5, 1810.
1810 Sketches of a
Tour to the Western Country, through the States of Ohio and Kentucky, A
Voyage down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and a trip through the
Mississippi Territory, and part of west Florida, commenced at
Philadelphia in the Winter of 1807, and concluded in 1809, by
Fortescue Cuming. Edited and published by Zadok Cramer.
Reprinted in Early
Western Travels, 1748-1846 4:28 (1904)
Page 12-13: The Schuylkill is a fine river nearly two hundred yards broad at the bridge. It rises in the Cushetunk mountains about a hundred and twenty miles to the N. W. of Philadelphia. It supplies the city with water, pumped by steam* from a reservoir, with which  the river communicates by a canal near the bridge, into a cistern, from whence it is conveyed by pipes through the streets and to the houses, plugs being fixed at convenient distances for supplying the fire engines, for which there are too frequent use, from the quantity of timber still used in building, and from the fuel, which is chiefly wood.
*This water steam engine, otherwise called the waterworks, is a work of great magnitude. It cost 150 thousand dollars, and is capable of raising about 4,500,000 gallons of water in 24 hours, with which the city is daily supplied through wooden pipes. The reservoir, into which the water is thrown, is capable of holding 20,000 gallons, and is of a sufficient height to supply the citizens with water in the upper stories of their highest houses. The first stone of this building was laid on the 2d May, 1799, and it was completed in 1801-2. The works belong to the city, and the citizens pay a water tax equal to the expence of keeping the engine in motion, which amounts to about 8,000 dollars annually. The building stands in the centre square, and consequently spoils the view down Market street. The trees and houses adjacent, look as black and gloomy as those in Pittsburgh, arising from the smoke of the mineral coal burnt in the works.— Cramer.
Act to incorporate the Union Canal Company of Pennsylvania. April 2,
Sect. 11. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid:-- to contract with the Mayor, Aldermen, and citizens of Philadelphia, for supplying the city of Philadelphia with water; and with the commissioners and inhabitants of that part of the township of the Northern Liberties, lying between the West side of Sixth-street and the river Delaware, and between Vine-street and Cohocsink creek; for supplying the said incorporated part of the said township with water; and with the commissioners of the county of Philadelphia, for supplying with Water, any of the built parts of the said county, not incorporated; and also with any private individual, or bodies corporate, not within the limits of the city of Philadelphia, or the said incorporated part of the township of the Northern Liberties, for supplying such individuaJa with water; and for tbe purpose of effecting such contracts, or any part of them, the said "Union Canal Company of Pennsylvania," shall have power to lay pipes and other conductors under the roads, lanes, streets, alleys, or other passages, which may be requisite; doing as little damage as may be, and replacing the ground as it was before: also to form wet and dry docks, for the accommodation of vessels near tbe city of Philadelphia, to communicate with the waters of the said canal.
1811 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, November 7, 1811
1811 Report of Messrs. Davis and Graff to the Watering Committee of Philadelphia, December 18, 1811.
1811 "Water Works," from The picture of Philadelphia, giving an account of its origin, increase and improvements in arts, sciences, manufactures, commerce and revenue. With a compendious view of its societies, literary, benevolent, patriotic, & religious. Its police--the public buildings--the prison and penetentiary [!] system--institutions, monied and civil--museum by Mease, James, 1771-1846
1812 Report of the Watering Committee, upon the present state of the works, for supplying the city with water, and the several other plans proposed for that purpose. May 2, 1812.
1812 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, November 5, 1812.
1812 Ordinances of the Corporation of the City of Philadelphia
1813 An act granting certain privileges to the mayor, aldermen, and citizens of Philadelphia, in relation to the highways, streets, and roads of Penn township, in the county of Philadelphia. February 16, 1813.
1813 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, November 11, 1813.
1814 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils. Read January 11, 1815.
1815 "Philadelphia Water
Works," American and Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore,
Maryland) March 11, 1815, Page 1.
The Watering Committee wish to engage the services of a respectable man for the superintendance of the Water Works, and the distribution throughout the city; that an individual well acquainted with the construction and arrangement of a Steam Engine is necessary as well as qualified to arrange and keep arrounts.
By order of the Watering Committee, Jas. Vanuxem, Chairman. To whom applications may be made in writing, Philadelphia, March 5
1815 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils. Read January 25, 1816.
1816 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, read January 23, 1817.
1817 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, read January 22, 1818.
1818 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, read November 12, 1818. Report on the deficiency of water and recommendation to install iron pipe from Fair Mount reservoir.
1818 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, read January 14, 1819
1819 An additional report, on water power, by the Watering Committee, March 8, 1819
1819 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, read February 10, 1820.
1820 Report of the Watering Committee, on the subject of obtaining water power from the river Schuylkill.
1820 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils, read January 18, 1821.
at the City Water Works," Louisiana State Gazette, November
17, 1821, Page 2 | Part
Philadelphia, Oct. 19. On Wednesday of last week, the boiler of the high pressure engine at Fair Mount burst directly over the furnace, through which and the the ash pit under it, the boiling water and steam were instantly discharged with great force into the boiler shed. R. Bingham, who attended the engine, and a person who had just just steped into the shed, were most severely injured. The former died on Saturday, and the recovery of the latter, who was removed to the Pennsylvania Hospital, is considered doubtful.
1822 Report of the Watering Committee to the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia. Read January 9, 1823
1823 "Improved Hydrants," The National Gazette (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), January 16, 1823, Page 1.
1823 "Iron Conduit Pipes," by George Vaux, The American Journal of Science 6(1):173-176 (1823)
1823 "Philadelphia Water Works," The American Journal of Science 6(2):375-376 (1823)
1823 "Annual Report of the Watering Committee, January 8, 1824," The American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), January 20, 1824, Page 4. | also here |
1824 "Centre Engine House and Fair Mount Water-Works," from Picture of Philadelphia, for 1824, containing the "Picture of Philadelphia, for 1811, by James Mease, M.D." with all its improvements since that period by Wilson, Thomas,
1824 "Annual Report of the Watering Committee, January 13, 1825," The American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), January 20, 1825, Page 3.
1825 "Annual Report of the Watering Committee, January 4, 1826," The American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), February 4, 1826, Page 2.
Boston News-letter; and City Record, Volume 1. January
Page 80: Water Works.- The City of Philadelphia is well supplied with water from the Schuylkill River, at a very great expense. The whole extent of iron pipes, which conveys the water, is now upwards of fifteen miles. It is estimated that the aggregate of water rents for 1826, will be $24,160. A handsome revenue will accrue to the city in a few years, as "the water rents," after defraying all expenses, except those incurred by the purchase of new iron pipes, yield and annual surplus in the sinking fund of 15,000 dollars.
1826 Articles of Agreement between the Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of Philadelphia and the Board of Commissioners of the district of Spring Garden to supply and receive a supply of Schuylkill water. April 26, 1826.
1826 Articles of Agreement between the mayor, aldermen, and citizens of Philadelphia and the commissioners and inhabitants of the district of Southwark to supply and receive a supply of Schuylkill water. June 1, 1826.
of history, life, and manners, in the United States. By a
Traveller [Mrs. Anne Royall].
Pages 210-211: Fair Mount Water Works.
1827 "Sewer in
Mulberry-street," Paulson's American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania), April 18, 1827, Page 2.
Proposals were also be received at the same time and place, for laying two millions of bricks, by the thousand, 700,000 of which, will be the bricks taken from the Centre building, and perhaps from two to three hundred thousand more of the same kind of bricks as those from the Centre square.
1827 "On the Water Wheels and Forcing Pumps used at the Philadelphia Water Works. Constructed under the direction of Frederick Graff, Esq.," Journal of the Franklin Institute 3:65 (1827)
1829 "Report of the Watering Committee of the Select and Common Councils, relative to the termination of the Columbia and Philadelphia Rail Road, December 24, 1829." From Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania 5(2):24-27 (January 9, 1830)
1830 "Annual Report of the Watering Committee," read January, 1831. From Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania 7(12):186-187 (March 19, 1831)
1831 Picture of
Philadelphia: Giving an Account of Its Origin, Increase and Improvements
in Arts, Sciences, Manufactures, Commerce and Revenue : with a
Compendious View of Its Societies, Literary, Benevolent, Patriotic, and
Religious : Embracing the Public Buildings, the House of Refuge, Prison,
New Penitentiary, Widows' and Orphans' Asylum, Fair Mount Water Works,
&c. : with a Variety of Interesting Miscellaneous Matter : and about
Thirty Plates and Wood Cuts, Volumes 1-2, by James Mease, M.D. and
continued by Thomas Porter
Volume 1 - Pages 147-154: Water Works
Volume 2 - Pages 94-102: Fair Mount Water Works.
1831 "Annual Report of the Watering Committee," read January 12, 1832. From Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania 9(6):90-95 (February 11, 1832)
1832 Agreement to supply water to Moyamensing, January 6, 1832.
1832 Correspondence of the Watering Committee with the Schuylkill Navigation Company, in Relation to the Fair Mount Water Works: Together with the Reports of the Watering Committee to Councils, Made Dec'r. 11, 1832, and Febr'y. 11, 1833
1832 "Annual Report of the Watering Committee," read January 12, 1833. From Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania 11(11):180-183 (March 16, 1833)
1833 "Memorial of Frederick Graff," to the Select and Common Councils of the city of Philadelphia, April 17, 1833, from Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania: Devoted to the Preservation of Facts and Documents, and Every Kind of Useful Information Respecting the State of Pennsylvania 11(24):381-383 (June 15, 1833)
1833 Agreement to supply water to Kensington, October 6, 1833.
1833 "Annual Report of the Watering Committee," read January 23, 1834. From Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania 13(8):125-127 (February 23, 1834)
Philadelphia as it is: And Citizens' Advertising Directory Containing
a General Description of the City and Environs, List of Officers,
Public Institutions, and Other Useful Information : for the
Convenience of Citizens, as a Book of Reference, and a Guide to
Strangers : with a New Map of the City
Pages 16-17: The Water Works.
1834 "Annual Report of the Watering Committee," read January 23, 1835. From Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania 15(12):177-180 (March 21, 1835)
1836 Annual Report of the Watering Committee for the Year 1836, to the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia, January 5, 1837
1837 Annual Report of the Watering Committee, for the Year 1837, to the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia. January 4, 1838
1838 Sketch of the civil engineering of North
America: comprising remarks on the harbours, river and lake
navigation, lighthouses, steam-navigation, water-works, canals, roads,
railways, bridges, and other works in that country, by
Page 278-288: Fairmount Water Works in Philadelphia
1839 The want of courtesy of Samuel W. Rush, register of the Watering Committee, in not giving me the account of the number of tenants supplied with water previous to printing the report, has induced me to add them .
1840 A Full and complete description of the Fairmount Water Works including the old works at Chesnut Street, from the years 1799 to 1840 ... Also, the name, location, date of establishment, and number of members belonging to the Fire Department of Philadelphia. ... a list of the Board of Control, its officers and directors, as also the officers, physicians and surgeons of the Philadelphia Association for the Relief of Disabled Firemen &c. &c., by Enoch E Camp and Frederick Graff
scenery; or, Land, lake, and river illustrations of transatlantic
nature. From drawings by W.H. Bartlett, Volume 2, by Nathaniel
Pages 71-73. Schuylkill Water-Works, of Philadelphia.
Description of the Canals and Rail Roads of the United States,
Comprehending Notices of All the Works of Internal Improvement
Throughout the Several States, by Henry Schenck Tanner
Pages 104-110: Fairmount Water Works
1841 "Philadelphia Water Works," from Reports, Specifications, and Estimates of Public Works in the United States of America Comprising the Philadelphia Gas Works. Reservoir Dam Across the Swatara. Twin Locks on the Schuylkill Canal. Delaware Breakwater. Philadelphia Water Works, Edited by William Strickland, Edward H. Gill, Henry R. Campbell
1841 Annual Report of the Watering Committee for the Year 1841, to the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia, January 20, 1842
Notes for General Circulation, Volume I, by Charles Dickens
Page 236: Philadelphia is most bountifully provided with fresh water, which is showered and jerked about, and turned on, and poured off, everywhere. The Waterworks, which are on a height near the city, are no less ornamental than useful, being tastefully laid out as a public garden, and kept in the best and neatest order. The river is dammed at this point, and forced by its own power into certain high tanks or reservoirs, whence the whole city, to the top stories of the houses, is supplied at a very trifling expense.
1843 "Pure Water," The North American and Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), October 19,1942, Page 2.
1843 Report of Board of Survey, and opinions of Messrs. Graff and Erdmann, relative to a proposed alteration of the plan adopted by Councils for rebuilding the third or western section of the Fairmount Dam.
1843 A Map of the County of Philadelphia from Actual Survey, 1843, by Charles Ellet, Jr.
1843 Annual Report of the Watering Committee for the Year 1843, to the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia, January 4, 1844
1844 Annual Report of the Watering Committee for the Year 1844, to the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia, January 2, 1845
Decision," Public Ledger (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania),
August 20, 1845, Page 2.
Judge Kennedy, of the Supreme Court of the State, yesterday granted a perpetual injunction against the use of the Schuylkill water by the Commissioners of Spring Garden and the Northern Liberties, for the supply of those districts. This virtually declares the act of the assembly, giving to those district the right to erect water works, unconstitutional, on the ground that it impairs the obligation of the contract between the City and the Schuylkill Navigation Company and the State. The question as to the relative rights of the parties to this controversy has been the subject of debate for some time, and a decision has been looked for with much interst, as a large amount of money has been invested by the several Corporations in their respective works, and considerable rivalry excited between them.
1845 "Public Hydrant Pumps," Public Ledger (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 22, 1845, Page 1.
1845 Annual Report of the Watering Committee for the Year 1845, to the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia, January 8, 1846
1847 "Importance of Pure Water in Cities," The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 36(21):409-412 (June 24, 1847)
1847 Annual Report of the Watering Committee for the Year 1847, to the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia, January 6, 1848.
1848 Mayor, &c. v. The Commissioners of Spring Garden, 7 Pa. 348, March 1, 1848, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Schuylkill Water Case," Public Ledger (Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania), March 2, 1848, Page 2.
Yesterday, Chief Justice Gibson delivered the opinion of the Supreme Court in the case of the City of Philadelphia vs. the Commissioners of Spring Garden and Northern Liberty. The decision was in favor of the defendants, and the Court ordered the junction dissolved and the bill dismissed.
1848 North Engine at Fairmount Works, Oliver Evans non-condensing high pressure Columbian engine, from drawing by Frederick Graff, Jr. September 9, 1848.
of a Joint Special Committee of Select and Common Councils, (appointed
on the 7th December, 1848): to whom was referred certain queries
contained in a circular letter from the American Medical Association
on the subject of public hygiene, January 26, 1849.
Includes a letter from Frederick Graff, Superintendent of Fairmount Water
Page 478: The number of baths in private houses, receiving their supply from Fairmount, was estimated in 1847 at 3,521; while the number of tenants who paid for a supply of water during the same year was 15,205 in the city proper.
1849 "Statistics of the Schuylkill Water," Public Ledger (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 6, 1849, Page 2.
1849 "Report on the Sanitary Condition of Philadelphia," by Isaac Parrish, M.D., The Transactions of the American Medical Association 2:459-486
Hand-Book for the Stranger in Philadelphia, By Wellington
Pages 25-30: Fairmount Water Works
Pages 30-33: Spring Garden Water-Works
1849 Annual Report of the Watering Committee for the Year 1849, to the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia, January 3, 1850.
|December 31, 1849
||Population (1850 Census)
Report of the Watering Committee for the Year 1850, to the Select and
Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia, January 2, 1851.
Page 32: The average supply of water, given above, viz., 4,785,338 gallons per day, would therefore be equal to 25.56 [ale] gallons per day to each individual. [31.2 wine gallons per day to each individual.]
1851 Annual Report of the Watering Committee for the Year 1851, to the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia, January, 1852.
1852 Annual Report of the Watering Committee for the Year 1852, to the Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia, January 6, 1853. Includes Rates of Water Rents in the City and Districts
|December 31, 1852
1853 Annual Report of the Board of Water
Commissioners of the City of Detroit. In 1853, the new
Board of Water Commissioners of the City of Detroit sent superintendent
Jacob Houghton, Jr. to visit and report on water works in other cities,
Page 23-24: Philadelphia. Fairmount Water Works. At the Fairmount Water Works the water is raised from the Schuylkill river, by means of water power. A dam, eleven hundred and forty-nine feet in length, and thirteen and a half feet in height, above low tide, is constructed. From this dam water is supplied to run eight breast wheels, and one "Jonval Turbine," each driving a double-acting force pump. The water is forced to a height of ninety-six feet, through mains of sixteen inches diameter, varying in length from one hundred and eighty-three to four hundred and thirty-three feet. On the hill at Fairmount are four reservoirs, containing, in the aggregate, 22,031,976 ale gallons, and at a distance of three-fourths of a mile is a fifth reservoir, containing 16,646,247 ale gallons, making the total storage of the Fairmount works equivalent to 38,678,223 ale gallons. During the year 1852 the average quantity of water pumped daily was 5,731,744 gallons, which was distributed in a district containing 26,821 houses, in which there were 27,592 rate-payers. The cost of these works to January 1st, 1853, was $3,247,894.
These works were the first of any importance erected in the United States, and have served as a model for almost every city in the country, where the project of water supply has been undertaken.
Spring Garden Water Works.The districts of Spring Garden and Northern Liberties are supplied with water from separate works, erected upon the Schuylkill, about a mile above Fairmount. Three condensing engines are in use, which force the water to a height of one hundred and fifteen feet, into an earth embankment reservoir. There are three pump mains, two of eighteen and one of twenty inches diameter, and thirty-three hundred feet in length.
The district of Kensington is also supplied by independent steam power works, situated upon the Delaware river. These works, however, I did not examine.
Report of the Watering Committee for the year 1853, January 5,
Page 7: About 3000 families who receive a supply from the public hydrant pumps.
Page 8: There are 249 hydrant pumps in the City. These latter, it has been the policy of the Committee to dispense with, whenever it has been shown that their continuance in the position in which they have been placed, was no longer a public benefit and convenience.
|December 31, 1853
1854 A Further Supplement to an act, entitled "An act to incorporate the City of Philadelphia," February 2, 1854. Wikipedia page and map, This act consolidated all remaining townships, districts, and boroughs within the County of Philadelphia, dissolving their governmental structures and bringing all municipal authority within the county under the auspices of the Philadelphia government. Additionally, any unincorporated areas were included in the consolidation. The consolidation was drafted to help combat lawlessness that the many local governments could not handle separately and to bring in much-needed tax revenue for the city.
1854 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, April 19, 1855
Ordinance to provide for the payment of expenses incurred in the laying
of pipes for the conveyance of water in and through the streets of the
city, passed January 29, 1855.
Sect. I. That whenever any pipes for the conveyance of water charge to shall be laid in any of the streets or highways within the city of Philadelphia, the owners of the ground in front whereof the same shall be laid, shall pay for the expense thereof the sum of one dollar for each foot of the front of their ground upon such street: Provided, that on all corner lots an allowance shall be made of one-third the length of one of their fronts, but such allowance shall be always and only on the street or highway having the longest front, and in case both fronts are of equal dimensions, the allowance shall be made on the street in which the pipe shall be last laid, but in no case shall the allowance exceed fifty feet on any corner lot: And provided always, that where a corner lot shall have erected upon it two or more separate tenements, there shall only be an allowance made equal to one-third of the depth of the corner tenement and the yard adjoining.
Supplement to an ordinance approved January 29th, 1855, entitled "An
Ordinance to provide for the payment of expenses incurred in the laying
of pipes for the conveyance of water in and through the streets of the
city." May 10, 1855.
Sect. I. That the charge to be made to the owners of property for the expense of laying pipes for the conveyance of water shall be, after April twenty-first, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five, seventy-five cents for each lineal foot, instead of the sum of one dollar, as provided in the ordinance to which this is a supplement.
Ordinance to fix the rates of water rents, passed November 12,1855.
Sect. I. That the water tenants of the city corporation shall be charged for the use of water furnished by the same, for the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six and thereafter, the same rate water which was charged by the corporation of the mayor, aldermen and citizens of Philadelphia, for the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four, and all ordinances inconsistent herewith, be and the same are hereby repealed.
Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of
Philadelphia, January 17, 1856
Page 5: At the time the works at Fairmount were erected, the standard measure of water was the ale gallon of two hundred and eighty-two cubic inches; but as nearly all the water works of the country now use the wine gallon of two hundred and thirty-one cubic inches, and as it had heretofore been used by some of the steam works now under my charge, I have concluded to make the latter the basis of calculations hereafter, or at least until the United States government gives us an actual standard gallon.
1855 New Map of the Consolidated City of Philadelphia
1856 Map of the Water Pipes now supplied from Fair Mount Water Works, by Frederick Graff.
1856 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, January 22, 1857
1857 "The Origin and Early History of Fairmount Water Works, Schuylkill and Lehigh Navigations, and the introduction of Anthracite Coal," by Charles B. Hagner. Philadelphia Press, August 11, 1857, Page 1.
Louisville Daily Courier, November 30, 1857, Page 3.
We commend the following to those who enjoy the benefits of waterworks: About twenty-two years ago, at Philadelphia, the Water from the Fairmount Water-Works assumed a very unpleasant taste. All analyzation proving a failure, they concluded to clean out the reservoir. And on doing so, found the bodies of eleven children, in a partial state of putrefaction, and the skeletons of eight more, making nineteen dead bodies.
1857 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, January 21, 1858
of the Common Council of the City of Philadelphia for the Year 1858
Page 530: February 24. Resolved: That the Chief Engineer of the Water Department be, and he is hereby instructed to report to these Councils on the expediency of providing for the erection of water works in the upper end of the Twenty-first Ward, for the purpose of supplying the northern section of the City with a better supply of water, and the probable cost thereof.
Supplement to 'An ordinance organizing the Department for supplying the
City with Water,' approved October 3d, 1854." Approved October 16,
1858. From Ordinances of the city of Philadelphia (1858)
Page 388: Section 2. There hereafter there shall be levied a tax, to defray the expenses of the Water Department, to be styled a Water Tax, against each and every dwelling-house situate on any street, lane, alley, court, or other place where the water pipe is laid; and as fast as it may be laid along the line of any such property as aforesaid, it shall be the duty of the Chief Engineer to assess a rate of tax of such amount against every dwelling-house as it now charged where the water is introduced. Provided, That the owners of such properties cannot show that the said property obtains water from other sources than the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia.
Washington Union (Washington, DC), December 16, 1858, Page 3.
The last of the old pine-wood water-pipes in Broad street, Philadelphia, have been removed by the water department to make room for iron pipe. The lat of these logs were laid in 1832. The city had altogether 241,604 feet of pine logs laid at various times, the first having been connected with the old water-works at Penn square. The first iron pipe was laid in 1804. These logs were taken from the ground in a perfectly sound state and still fit for use, except along streets where large steam engines have been introduced.
1858 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, January, 1859
1859 "Public Drinking
Hydrants," Dollar Newspaper (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), May 18,
1859, Page 2.
We have no doubt the removal of the old-fashioned pumps and hydrants from the sidewalks has contributed largely to the habits which lead to intemperance.
1859 "Self-Propelling Steam Fire Engine," Columbus Gazette (Columbus, Ohio), July 8, 1859, Page 2.
Lives of Eminent Philadelphians, Now Deceased, by Henry
Pages 956-959: Josiah White. Promoter of water power at Fairmount.
1859 History of the Works and Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, February 9, 1860. | water rates |
Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of
Philadelphia, February 21, 1861.
Page 77: The fact is well known to you, that the present capacity of the water supply is inadequate to the demands.
The free use of the water by citizens, as a preservative of health, demands an increased supply adequate to the wants of the consumers.
1861 "Water-Works of Philadelphia and New York," American Gas-Light Journal 2:347 (May 15, 1861).
1861 "Experiments with Turbine Water-Wheels," American Gas-Light Journal 2:376-379 (June 15, 1861). At Fairmount Water-Works in Philadelphia conducted by H.P.M. Birkinbine.
1861 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, January 16, 1862.
1862 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, February 5, 1863.
1863 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, January 28, 1864.
1864 Report upon the extension of the Water Works of the City of Philadelphia. Presented to Councils March 31st, 1864. By Henry P.M. Birkinbine, Chief Engineer.
1864 "Introduction of Water Meters," The Pittsburgh Gazette, May 25, 1864, Page 1.
1864 "Water Meters in Philadelphia," Pittston Gazette, May 26, 1864, Page 1.
Meters in Philadelphia," from American Gas Light Journal 6:9
(July 1, 1864)
All large consumers of water in Philadelphia are to be charged hereafter by the gallon. Mr. Birkinbine, the chief engineer, has issued a circular announcing that water meters will be introduced at the expense of the consumers, and bills collected quarterly at the following rates: From one thousand to ten thousand gallons per day, two cents per thousand gallons; for from ten thousand to twenty thousand gallons per day, one and a half cents per hundred gallons; for from twenty thousand gallons per day and upward, one cent per hundred gallons.
1864 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, February 2, 1865.
upon the fire plugs of the City of Philadelphia. Presented to the
Committee on Water February 21st, 1865. By Henry P.M.
Birkinbine, Chief Engineer.
1865 "Report upon Future Water-Supply of Philadelphia." By Henry P. M. Birkinbine, Chief Engineer, 1865.
Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of
Philadelphia, February 15, 1866.
Page 69: Sources of Revenue. Baths, 21,346; Water Closets and Urinals, 7,694.
1866 Water supply of our great cities, by Rev. John W. Mears. Revised from articles in the American Presbyterian, Philadelphia, June 28, July 5, 12, 19, 1866. Published by order of the Water Committee of the Councils of Philadelphia.
1866 Preliminary surveys for procuring a supply of water by gravitation, for the City of Philadelphia, from the Perkiomen, Presented to Council, February 15, 1866, by H.P.M. Birkinbine, Chief Engineer.
1866 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, January 31, 1867.
1867 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, February 20, 1868.
1868 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, February, 1869.
1869 Early History of the Falls of Schuylkill, Manayunk, Schuylkill and Lehigh Navigation Companies, Fairmount Waterworks, Etc. by Charles Valerius Hagner
1869 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, February 10, 1870.
1870 "A Blow at Philadelphia," Philadelphia Inquirer, May 6, 1870, Page 4. Authority to install water meters for large customers.
to authorize the use of water meters, May 18, 1870, from Ordinances
of the City of Philadelphia
Page 270: The chief engineer of the water department is hereby authorized, whenever it may be deemed necessary, to determine the quantity of water used by manufacturers, sugar refiners, distillers, hotels, and other large consumers, to attach meters to the several pipes supplying the premises with water; to which meters the officers of the water department shall have access at all times: Provided, That this resolution shall not be construed to apply to the consumption of water by private families for household purposes.
1870 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia, February 16, 1871.
Ordinance for the government and protection of the Department for
Supplying the City with Water. June 1, 1871. From Ordinances and
Joint Resolutions of the City of Philadelphia
SECT. 23. Whenever it shall be considered necessary to accurately determine the quantity of water used by manufacturers, distillers, hotels, or other large consumers, other than private houses, the Chief Engineer shall attach meters to the several pipes supplying the premises, to which meter the officers of the Department shall have access at all seasonable times as provided by Section 10 of this Ordinance.
1871 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia for the year 1871,
supplement to an Ordinance entitled "an ordinance for the government and
protection of the Department for Supplying the City with Water,"
approved June first, A.D. 1871, to provide for the use of water meters
by special agreement and fixing the rate therefor. July 25, 1872
from Ordinances and Opinions of the City Solicitor
When it shall be specially agreed upon between the Water Department and manufacturers or other large consumers to accurately determine the amount of water rent to be assessed, the Chief Engineer of the Water Department is hereby authorized to introduce meters into such premises, and the charge for water consumed as indicated by any meter, shall be at the rate of one dollar per thousand cubic feet, payable quarterly: Provided, The Chief Engineer be instructed to use the Gem meter if it be the cheapest and best.
1872 Annual Report of the Department for Supplying the City with Water, December 31, 1872
1873 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia for the year 1873.
1874 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia for the year 1874.
1875 Report on the Water Supply for the City of Philadelphia: Made by the Commission of Engineers Appointed by the Mayor Under the Ordinance of Councils, Approved June 5th, 1875
Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of
Philadelphia, April 6, 1876. Includes History
and Review of the Water Supply of Philadelphia.
Pages 41-45: Dates of important events connected with the water works of Philadelphia.
Page 86: List of Dwellings. Baths, 51,214; Water Closets, Urinals, and Bidets, 21,182.
1876 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia,
1876 "The history of the steam engine in America," by Frederick Graff, Journal of the Franklin Institute 104(4):253-268 (October 1876) Includes an illustration of the 1801 Centre Square engine.
1876 Notes upon the water works of Philadelphia. 1801-1815, by Frederick Graff.
1877 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia for the year 1877.
1878 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia for the year 1878.
1878 "Future Water Supply of Philadelphia," by Henry P.M. Birkinbine, Journal of the Franklin Institute 105(4):305-318 (May, 1878)
1878 "Future Water Supply of Philadelphia," by Henry P.M. Birkinbine, Journal of the Franklin Institute 106(1):38-51 (July, 1878)
1879 "The Future Water Supply of Philadelphia," by James E. Smith, C.E., Journal of the Franklin Institute 108(4):236-248 (October, 1879)
1879 "Future Water Supply of Philadelphia," by Henry P.M. Birkinbine, read before the Franklin Institute at its meeting October 15th, 1879, Journal of the Franklin Institute 108(5):297-304 (November, 1879)
1879 Annual report of the chief engineer of the Water Department, of the City of Philadelphia, April 29 1880.
1881 Philadelphia, Engineering News, 8:102 (March 12, 1881)
1882 Philadelphia from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.
1882 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Department of the City of Philadelphia for the year 1882.
1884 "Fire hydrants," by Frederick Graff, read December 1, 1883. Proceedings of the Engineers Club of Philadelphia, 4(1):26-32 (March, 1884). Illustrations of first fire hydrants used in Philadelphia.
1884 "Surveys for the Future Water Supply of Philadelphia," by Rudolph Hering, Assistant in charge, Philadelphia Water Department, January 27, 1884. Journal of the Franklin Institute, 118(2):138-152 (August, 1884)
of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, Volume 1, by John Thomas Scharf
and Thompson Westcott
Pages 499-501: Early development of water works.
Page 510: Water works in 1801.
Pages 560-561: Necessity of moving the water-works from Chestnut Street. New Fairmount works started on September 7, 1815.
Page 597: 1819. The City Councils in February memorialized Congress to remit customs duties upon iron pipes imported from London for the water-works. The joints had to be nine feet long, and of twenty and twenty-two inches diameter. It was difficult to procure contracts for such large-sized pipes in this country. Congress, however, took no action on this memorial.
Page 605: 1822. The Fairmount Water-Works were fairly completed by the end of the year, the dam being finished and the water-wheels in order. The substitution of iron pipes for wooden pipes was not entered upon until 1818; and by the end of 1822 there were still thirty-two miles of wooden water-pipes in use in the city.
Page 632: 1832. The old engine-house of the water-works, near the Schuylkill at Chestnut Street, was fitted up as a place of refuge for the poor, and a large number of shanties were erected in the same neighborhood.
Pages 662-663: Supply of water to Spring Garden and Northern Liberties.
of Philadelphia, 1609-1884, Volume 3, by John Thomas Scharf
and Thompson Westcott
Page 1743: Water Department.
1885 Schedule of water-rates and charges, January 13, 1885, from A Digest of the Laws and Ordinances of the City of Philadelphia from the Year 1701 to the 21 Day of June, 1887
1885 "The Future Water Supply of Philadelphia," by Col. William Ludlow, Chief Engineer of the Philadelphia Water Department, Journal of the Franklin Institute 120(1):17-33 (July, 1885)
Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Philadelphia Water
Department for the year 1885.
Page 10: Of the new permits issued during the year, there were 4,985 for new buildings, making the total premises on the books 172,833, of which there are supplied with water 151,853, or 88 per cent., and without water 20,980, or 12 per cent. The new permits for baths in dwellings number 3,857, and for water-closets 4,879, making totals of 80,773 baths and 45,508 closets in use in private houses. In other words, about one-half the domiciles in Philadelphia have baths, and more than one-quarter have water-closets. Furthermore, it will be noted that all of the buildings constructed during the year, with the exception of 106, were equipped with closets. There are, however, 7,357 dwellings and 13,623 "half" dwellings not supplied with water.
1887 "Early American Pumping and Distribution Plant," Engineering News 17:246-248 (April 16, 1887) Details of the Centre Square Water Works, including the original wood boiler
1887 Eighty-Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year ending December 31, 1887.
1888 "Philadelphia," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.
and Opinions of the City Solicitor during 1889, Philadelphia
Page 9: May 17, 1889, opinion as to the legal right of the city to demand payment of water tax.
1890 Eighty-Ninth Annual Report of the Bureau of Water, for the Year ending December 31st, 1890.
1890 "Philadelphia," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.
1891 "Philadelphia," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.
1891 "The Beginning and Growth of the Philadelphia Water Works," by Emile E. Geyelin, Report of the Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Convention of the American Water Works Association 11:20-24 (April, 1891)
1891 Nintieth Annual Report of the Bureau of Water, for the Year ending December 31st, 1891.
1892 Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year 1892.
1892 Report of the water committee : compiled from the various documents, papers and reports of the former Departments and the present Bureau of Water, relating to a proper source of water supply with accompanying suggestions for the City of Philadelphia. (First 101 pages of 419 page document)
1894 Ninety-Third Annual Report of the Bureau of Water, for the Year ending December 31st, 1894.
Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year ending December 31,
Page 82: Number of dwellings and of principal appliances for the use of City water:
|Dwellings with water||198,609||205,213||6,604|
|Dwellings without water||12,742||12,479||163|
1897 "Philadelphia," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.
1897 Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year 1897
1899 Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year 1899
1900 Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year 1900.
Report of the Bureau of Water for the year 1901.
This is the one-hundredth annual report since the construction of the first municipal water works at Centre Square, Broad and Market Streets.
1902 "Bureau of Water," from Report on the Public Archives of the City and County of Philadelphia By Herman Vandenburg Ames, Albert Edward McKinley
1902 Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year 1902
1903 One Hundred and Second Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year 1903.
1904 One Hundred and Third Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year ending December 31, 1904
1905 Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year 1905
of the Common Council of the City of Philadelphia for the Year 1906,
Pages 650-652: Resolution Relative to the Installation of Water Meters, March 15, 1906. Rejected installation of 400,000 water meters at $16.00 each.
Iron Pipe History," by Henry G. Morris, Iron Age 78:156
(July 19, 1906)
Cast Iron Pipe History. To the Editor: In a recent issue of your journal a reference was made to the early manufacture of cast iron pipes, which I think should be corrected as making false history. According to the early reports of the Philadelphia Water Works, for reference to which I am indebted to John C. Trautwine, Jr., former chief engineer of the Water Bureau of Philadelphia, the first experiment with cast iron pipe was made in 1801, at the Centre Square, (now Broad and Market streets), by laying 14 lengths of 6-in. cast iron pipe, each 6 ft. long, which were procured from Robeson & Paul, merchants of this city, who were running the Weymouth Furnace at Atsion, N. J. In 1804 the same parties furnished 56 tons of 3-in. pipes. which were laid in Water street, in 1817. The subject of substituting iron pipes for the wooden ones in use was a burning question, and a lot of pipes, ordered from England, arrived in 1818. Samuel Richards appears to have furnished a large amount in 1819 and 1820, which in all probability were made at one of the New Jersey furnaces. These were as large as 20 and 22 in. in diameter. In 1821 Benjamin B. Howell of Hanover Furnace, on the head waters of the Rancocas Creek. furnished pipes and castings to a considerable amount, and the ownership of this furnace having passed to his son-in-law, Benjamin Jones, the manufacture of cast iron pipe was continued until the late 50's, when the furnace was abandoned owing to exhaustion of ores. The Pascal Iron Works was not established until 1835. although wrought iron pipes were first made by Morris, Tasker & Morris, at the southeast corner of Third and Walnut streets, prior to that date. The development of the business then demanded the establishment of the Pascal Iron Works at that time. Within the memory of the writer, cast iron pipes were made there in considerable quantities from 1849 to 1869. HENRY G. MORRIS. PHILADELPHIA, July 11, 1906.
1906 Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year 1906
1907 "Notes on Municipal Government. The Relation of the Municipality to the Water Supply, A Symposium," by Frederic Rex, Chicago, Ill.; Henry Ralph Ringe, Philadelphia, Pa.; Henry Jones Ford, Baltimore, Md.; Edward W. Bemis, Cleveland, O.; Prof. A. C. Richardson, Buffalo, N.Y.; Murray Gross, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.; Max B. May, Cincinnati, O.; James J. McLoughlin, New Orleans, La.; Delos F. Wilcox, Secretary, Municipal League, Detroit, Mi.; Daniel E. Garges, Washington, D.C.; Frank E. Lakey, Boston, Mass.; and W. G. Joerns, Duluth, Minn. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 30:129-164 (November 1907) Pages 134-139 contains a good summary of the Philadelphia water works.
1907 One Hundred and Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year ending December 31, 1907
1908 "A glance at the water supply of Philadelphia," by John C. Trautwine, Journal of the New England Water Works Association, 22:419-441 (December 1908)
1908 One Hundred and Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year ending December 31, 1908
1909 Description of the filtration works and pumping stations, also, brief historical review of the water supply, 1789-1900, by Philadelphia Bureau of Water.
1909 "Views of Experts on Typhoid Fever," The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 3, 1909, Page 20.
1909 "Philadelphia Wars on Typhoid," Municipal Journal and Engineer 27(22):826 (December 1, 1909)
1909 One Hundred and Eighth Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year ending December 31, 1909
1910 One Hundred and Ninth Annual Report of the Bureau of Water for the year ending December 31, 1910.
Dam and Water Works," by Thomas Gilpin, The Pennsylvania
Magazine of History and Biography 37(4):450-470 (October 1913)
here | and here
The following statement prepared by the late Thomas Gilpin, in 1852, gives a detailed account as to who first proposed building a dam and erecting water works on the Sehuylkill river at Fairmount, the main source of water supply for the city of Philadelphia for many years and an attractive resort of its citizens. The dam is still in use, but the old pumping houses have been dismantled and are now used for an aquarium; the reservoir is being reduced in height, on which is to be erected the Municipal Art Gallery.
Ordinance to amend an ordinance entitled "An Ordinance for the
government and protection of the department for supplying the City with
water," approved June 1, 1871. June 19, 1916. From
Ordinances of the City of Philadelphia (1916)
All such private pipes shall consist of lead pipe of standard quality.
Use of Lead Service Pipes," Municipal Journal (July 13,
1916) 41(2):41 (July 13, 1916)
Philadelphia, Pa.-To preserve the water supply and to help keep the streets of the city in proper condition, chief Carlton T. Davis of the bureau of water has announced that all private pipe carrying water from the public mains in the streets to buildings must be of lead from the main to the stop at the curb. The issuance of the order is possible because of the enactment of a recent ordinance by councils. At present, according to Chief Davis, about two thousand service pipes develop leaks under the paved roadways each year. This means that the water bureau loses water, the householder is subject to annoyance and the public is inconvenienced by the digging up of the streets. The bulk of service pipe leaks are caused by the use of improper material which is quickly corroded. There are more than 350,000 service pipes in use. A great many of these are of lead and give no trouble. The ordinance just passed gives the chief of the bureau of water the power to enforce the use of proper pipes.
1935 “Autobiography of John Davis, 1770–1864,” from Maryland Historical Magazine 30:11-39 (1935). Davis was clerk of the Philadelphia Water Works under Benjamin Latrobe and worked with Frederick Graff to design and build the Fairmount works.
1944 “Philadelphia’s Water Works from 1798 to 1944,” by Martin J. McLaughlin, Chief, Bureau of Water, Philadelphia American City 59(8):86-87 (October, 1944)
1950 "The Beginnings of Philadelphia's Water Supply," Elbert J. Taylor, Journal of the American Water Works Association 42(7):633-644 (July 1950)
Mechanics' Union of Trade Associations and the Formation of the
Philadelphia Workingmen's Movement," by Louis H. Arky, The
Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 76(2):142-176 (April,
Page 166: When pumps had been installed throughout the city and county to pipe in Schuylkill water, these districts had been neglected, a fact [William] Heighton observed in one of his addresses.
1956 Water for the Cities: A History of the Urban Water Supply Problem in the United States, by Nelson Manfred Blake. | Includes a lot of information by Philadelphia.
1957 “Golden Decade for Philadelphia Water,” Engineering News-Record 159:37-38 (September 19, 1957)
1962 "Philadelphia," from Public Water Supplies of the 100 Largest Cities in the United States, 1962, US Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1812, by Charles Norman Durfor and Edith Becker
Private City: Philadelphia in Three Periods of Its Growth, by
Sam Bass Warner
Pages 102-111: Development of Waterworks.
Page 108: By 1850 only Southwark remained connected to the Philadelphia system. In the summer 160,000 people drew forty-four gallons per person per day. Fifteen thousand houses had water closets, and 3,500 had baths. [Moyamensing was still supplied with water, raising the population served to 187,154. A total of 4,468 baths and 556 water closets were supplied as of December 31, 1849. The average daily supply per person was 31.2 wine gallons, and the peak day supply on June 21, 1849 would have been about 47.2 wine gallons.]
1975 "The engineer as agent of technological transfer: the American career of Benjamin Henry Latrobe," by Edward C. Carter, II, in Barbara Genson, ed., Benjamin Henry Latrobe and Moncure Robinson: The Engineer as Agent of Technological Transfer.
1977 "Benjamin Henry Latrobe and the Development of Internal Improvements in the New Republic, 1796-1820," by Lee William Formwalt, PhD dissertation, Catholic University of America, published by Arno Press (1982)
by Michal McMahon, American Heritage 30(3):100-107 (April/May
1979) | pdf |
Page 100: For the Fairmount Waterworks was not only a technological touchstone of nineteenth-century America; it was an aesthetic and social one as well. Indeed, by the close of the century, Fairmount had become a concise and incisive document of the making of our industrial society.
Page 101: Despite the imperative practical objectives, the works on the Schuylkill spoke of more than stark utility. Developed during the decades when American architects sought continuity with Western traditions, Fairmount reflected a series of revival styles: Roman, Greek, Italianate, Gothic. Moreover, the natural beauty of the site—as much a part of the design as the buildings themselves—impressed visitors as strongly as the powerful machinery. From the beginning, the social nature of Fairmount was recognized and made a part of the pioneer municipal water system.
Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe are published in four series
by Yale University Press for the Maryland Historical Society.
Series I contains all the Latrobe journals, or memorandum books, supplemented with relevant sketchbook materials, literary and visual, and occasionally with individual letters that strengthen the sense of chronology.
Series II is devoted to those architectural and engineering drawings executed by Latrobe or under his direction. Each volume contains an introductory essay followed by a critical catalog of Latrobe's extant drawings organized by categories.
Series III consists of selected examples from Latrobe's sketchbooks and a complete catalog of the contents of the sketchbooks.
Series IV comprises correspondence and miscellaneous papers.
1981 “A Public Watchdog: Thomas Pym Cope and the Philadelphia Waterworks,” by Eleanor A. Maass, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 125(2):134-154–49 (April 1981)
1988 “The Fairmount Waterworks,”by Jane Mork Gibson, Bulletin, Philadelphia Museum of Art 84.360–61 (Summer 1988) [Text ony at PhilyH20] [OCR enabled PDF]
1988 “Makeshift Technology: Water and Politics in 19th-Century Philadelphia,” by Michal McMahon, Environmental Review 12(4):20-37 (Winter 1988)
1989 “‘The Fairmount Waterworks, 1812–1911,’ at the Philadelphia Museum of Art,” by Donald C. Jackson, Technology and Culture 30(3):635-639 (July 1989)
Therapeutics: Technology and the Question of Public Health in
Late-Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia," by Michal McMahon, from A
Melancholy Scene of Devastation: the public response to the 1793
Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic, edited by J. Worth Estes
and Billy G. Smith.
Page 109: Joseph Huntley of Connecticut offered a scheme based on using the Schuylkill by means of "an improvement on the mode of raising water from rivers to a height above its level."
1999 "Introducing…clean Water," by Darwin H. Stapleton, Invention and Technology, 14(3):24-35 (Winter 1999) | pdf |
2000 "Rebirth on the River," by Susan Lonkevich, The Pennsylvania Gazette (January - February 2000)
2002 "The Present and Proposed Future Water Supply of Philadelphia, by Albert R. Leeds, Journal of the American Chemical Society 8(6):126–147 (May 2002)
2010 Cool, Clear Water: The Fairmount Water Works, by Michael Wang, Fall 2010
2010 "Palladianism on the Schuylkill: The Work of Frederick Graff at Fairmount" by Arthur S. Marks, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 154(2):201–257 (June 2010) [Also on JSTOR]
2013 City Water, City Life: Water and the Infrastructure of Ideas in Urbanizing Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago, by Carl Smith
2015 "Benjamin H. Latrobe's Philadelphia waterworks of 1801: Instrument and expression of American equilibrium," by Catherine Bonier, Doctoral Dissertation in Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. (2015) | Abstract | This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
2016 "Fairmount Water Works," by Lynn Miller, from The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia
Fairmount Water Works — Disease and the City’s Water Supply by Jason
The History of Philadelphia's Watersheds and Sewers Compiled by Adam Levine Historical Consultant Philadelphia Water Department
Philadelphia Watershed History, by Philadelphia Water Department
Philadelphia Water Department Historical Collection
© 2015 Morris A. Pierce