Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Middle Atlantic States Pennsylvania  Spring Garden

Spring Garden, Pennsylvania

Spring Garden was settled in 1796, incorporated as a district in 1813, and annexed by the City of Philadelphia in 1854.  

The City of Philadelphia contracted in 1826 with the three districts north of Vine Street, Spring Garden, Northern Liberties, Spring Garden and Kensington, to supply them water from the new Fairmount pumping plant.  The price paid would be fifty percent higher than that paid by residents of Philadelphia, and the districts were responsible for installing their own piping networks.  Population growth, especially in higher elevation areas, resulted in the district securing approval from the state legislature to construct their own works, which was granted in 1843.  Kensington chose not to participate in the resulting project, so Spring Garden and Northern Liberties proceeded to build a plant to pump water from the Schuylkill River using a pair of steam engines, which were operating at the end of 1844.  The City of Philadelphia was not pleased with the loss of revenue, and brought suit against Spring Garden for infringing on their exclusive right to take water from the Schuylkill River.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said no such right existed in an 1847 decision, and the plant continued to serve the two districts, plus Kensington which was served under a contract until their own plant came on line in 1851. 

The districts and their system was annexed by the City of Philadelphia in 1854.  At the time of annexation Spring Garden was the ninth largest city in the United States and Northern Liberties was the eleventh largest.

Water service is provided by the City of Philadelphia.

1843 An act to authorize the Commissioners of the incorporated districts of the county of Philadelphia to construct works for supplying said districts with water from the Schuylkill river.  April 18, 1843.

1847 Mayor, &c. v. The Commissioners of Spring Garden, 7 Pa. 348, February 3, 1848, Pennsylvania Supreme Court

1888 "The Spring Garden Works," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.

1890 "Spring Garden Works," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1931 "Spring Garden and Northern Liberties Works or Schuylkill Works -1844," from The Water Works of the City of Philadelphia: The Story of their Development and Engineering Specifications, compiled by Walter A. Graf, Staff Engineer.

2016 Morris A. Pierce