MOTU@5 | How We Got Here Online Exhibit | Water Transportation

Throughout October, MOTU and the Free Library of Philadelphia will be showcasing unique archival images from Philadelphia’s transportation and utilities history in an on-line exhibit called “How’d we get here?”.  Every and Monday and Wednesday in October we will be showcasing a certain segment of the exhibit (all photographs are from the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Print and Picture Collection).

On Wednesday we took a look at the history of Philly’s mass transportation.  Today we’ll be taking a brief look at the history of Philly’s water transportation by selecting three of our favorite photos from the “Mass Transportation” portion of the exhibit.  You can check out all of the historic images online here and in person at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Central Branch (1901 Vine Street).

When ships first docked in Philadelphia, their captains were delighted to note that the fresh waters of the Delaware River ensured their ships were free of barnacles and other creatures that damaged their hulls. It is no wonder that Philadelphia became a favorite port of early American traders. Today, organizations such as the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation and the Schuylkill River Development Corporation are building parks and trails to bring Philadelphians back to the water’s edge. These images from the Free Library’s collections remind us that the Rivers have always been with us.

3. Mendenhall Ferry

mendenhall ferry, schuylkill


Ferries used to take passengers from Callowhill Street across the Schuylkill River between North and South Laurel Hill Cemetery.

2. Philadelphia Port, 1954

del river front, port, 1954


Unloading and loading trucks at a Philadelphia port in 1954.

1. Pennsylvania Railroad Ferry

ferry, del river front

A person rides the ferry across the Delaware River.


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