MOTU@5 | How We Got Here Online Exhibit | Good Bones and Big Infrastructure

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 Monday we took a look at the history of the people who built/maintained Philly’s transportation system and the tools they used.  Today we’ll be taking a brief look at the history of the construction of the El and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge by selecting three of our favorite photos from the “Good Bones and Big Infrastructure” 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).

Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities, Rina Cutler likes to say that “Philadelphia has good bones” meaning that under girding of our transportation network we have an impressive infrastructure system that is the envy of cities across the United States. These photos take us back to the days when it was first built.

Market Frankford Line Under Construction, 1906

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The Market Frankford Line under construction in 1906.

Wooden Street During Construction, 1908

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As shown in this photograph, there were wooden streets with trolleys during the original subway construction under Market Street.

Benjamin Franklin Being Built, Southeast View

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This image from the 1920s shows a southeast view  of “Tower A” of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge being constructed.

Donated by J.B. Abbott

Image source and credit: Delaware River Port Authority,


Tidbit Tuesday — Capital Inventory, Part 2

Every Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a map or graphic that tells a story about transportation or utilities in the City of Brotherly Love.

This week is the second of a three week series that will explore the capital inventory of infrastructure that exists in Philadelphia.  Last week we looked at the mileage of road that the City maintains.  This week is a graphic illustrating the number of bridges in Philly that the City maintains.


What is your favorite bridge in Philadelphia?

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