Philadelphia. Department of Wharves, Docks and Ferries.
Pier Construction Photographs, 1917-1921
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contains eighty-seven progress photographs documenting the construction of municipal
piers on the Delaware River waterfront under the auspices of the Philadelphia
Department of Wharves, Docks and Ferries. The construction was part of a progressive-era
project to upgrade Philadelphias severely neglected port infrastructure.
Before the creation of the Department of Wharves, Docks and Ferries in 1907, Philadelphia
had just over twenty piers, most of which were owned by private companies - principally
railroad companies. Few could accommodate larger cargo ships. In the early decades
of the 20th century, the Department oversaw the construction of dozens of new
piers designed to accommodate ships with much greater draw, enable the loading
and unloading of more than one ship simultaneously, and the facilitate the transfer
of cargo to railroads, trucks and wagons. The piers depicted in this collection
served as marine-railroad terminals linking the river and the Pennsylvania, B&O
and Reading railroad yards. Considerably larger than any piers previously constructed
by the city, Pier 9 North measured 100 feet in width and was 536 feet long while
piers in the Moyamensing Group ranged from 250 to 336 feet in width and from 900
to 1,000 feet in length.
Images primarily depict construction of Municipal Pier
9 North, also known as the Cherry Street Pier, but some also document the construction
of Municipal Piers 78 (McKean Street), 80 (Jackson Street), 82 (Wolf Street) and
84 (Porter Street) South which were collectively known as the Moyamensing Group.
Images show bulkheads, pilings, forms, portions of the concrete decks, retaining
walls, framing, and interior and exteriors of partially and fully completed pier
buildings. Some images include construction workers and a few include the temporary
offices for general contractors working on the project, Arthur McMullen Company
and Snare & Triest Company. The photographs incidentally capture adjoining
piers, businesses lining Delaware Avenue, and ships at dock.
Jennifer Ambrose, Former Associate Curator of Prints and Photographs
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