From Above: The Central Delaware Waterfront, 1920

For this week’s look at Philadelphia From Above we’ll turn to Delaware Waterfront of 1920 in honor of the Behind PlanPhilly Delaware River boat tour on August 1.

Head down to the Delaware River and you’ll probably see a boat pass by, but the amount of river traffic today feels like nothing when you look at old pictures of Philadelphia’s waterfront. Here we see what the Delaware looked like on an average day back in 1920. Waterfront industry and piers extending into the river suggest a totally different river’s edge than today’s. In 1920 the river was active with barges, cargo and sailing ships, as well as ferries. Remember this photo predates construction of the construction of the Delaware River Bridge, and Philadelphia had ferry terminals at Shackamaxon, Vine, Market, Chestnut, and South streets. (I’m guessing that the ferry in the lower left corner is leaving the former Pennsylvania Railroad transit hub at South Street.) The El runs northward on the left hand edge of the shot, and at center is a familiar sight to anyone who knows the Central Delaware: PECO’s Delaware Station in Fishtown, complete with plumes from its stacks.


This image is part of the Free Library’s Print and Picture Collection, and is used by PlanPhilly/Eyes on the Street with the express permission of Aerial Viewpoint, which owns these aerial images. For reproductions contact Aerial Viewpoint.

To learn more background about these aerial photographs, head over here.

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