The Buried Past: An Archaeological History of Philadelphia

By John L. Cotter; Daniel G. Roberts et al. | Go to book overview

6

The City Beyond the Colonial Core

BARTRAM'S GARDEN: AN EARLY BOTANICAL VENTURE

THE GORGAS MILL COMPLEX: EARLY INDUSTRY ALONG THE WISSAHICKON

THE FIRST AFRICAN BAPTIST CHURCH AND THE KENSINGTON METHODIST CHURCH: FORGOTTEN BURIAL GROUNDS

A SITE FOR A NEW CONVENTION CENTER: OF ALMSHOUSES, TRAINS AND TERMINALS, AND SHELTERS FOR FALLEN WOMEN

VINE STREET FROM RIVER TO RIVER: MIXED NINETEENTH-CENTURY NEIGHBORHOODS

THE NINTH WARD: NINETEENTH-CENTURY SANITATION PRACTICES

THE COMMUTER RAIL TUNNEL: OF SCHOOLBOY PRANKS AND OTHER SITE-SPECIFIC MATTERS

THE POINT BREEZE GAS WORKS: ARCHAEOLOGY WITHOUT DIGGING

THE "SAPONIFIED" MAN AND WOMAN: SOME VICTORIAN ARCHAEOLOGY

The meaning of the "city" beyond the colonial core is somewhat ambiguous, primarily because of the changes in Philadelphia's political boundaries effected by the Act of Consolidation in 1854. Until that time, the "city" meant the area between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers bounded by South and Vine streets. Since then, of course, it has meant both the city and the county of Philadelphia. The "colonial core," on the other hand, has always been unambiguous, clearly signifying the blocks east of Seventh Street between Vine and South where Philadelphians clustered until the late 1700s.

Although many landmarks of the colonial core are still visible, the spaces beyond it (and even within it) had by 1850 changed to a degree that most colonial Philadelphians would have found hard to credit. As early as the 1830s, newly built canals and coal-burning factories, which could be, and increasingly were, situated well away from any source of water power, were starting to transform the landscape. Manayunk, a quiet hamlet along the Schuylkill in 1820, had by the 1830s become a booming mill town, and Bush Hill, Andrew Hamilton's former country seat at Spring Garden and Seventeenth streets, was functioning as a carpet factory. Bush Hill was but one of the many elegant country estates built in Philadelphia County during the colonial era that disappeared, together with acres of rich agricultural land and numerous working farms, as industrialization took hold in the first half of the nineteenth century.

In its reincarnation as a carpet factory (a highly successful one at that), Bush Hill was part of Spring Garden, a district carved out of the greenbelt of the Northern Liberties in 1813. In

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