Suggested Further Reading

Architecture & Interiors | Philadelphia's Growth | West Philadelphia | DIY Research

Architecture & Interiors

  • Ames, Kenneth, ed. Victorian Furniture, Essays from a Victorian Society Autumn Symposium. Philadelphia: Victorian Society of America. 1983.
  • Ames, Kenneth L. Death in the Dining Room and Other Tales of Victorian Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 1992.
  • Garrett, Elizabeth D. At Home: The American Family 1750-1870. New York: Harry N. Abrams. 1990. 
    • A helpful book about life and early interior use with color illustrations.
  • Cohen, Jeffrey Alan. The Queen Anne and the Late Victorian Townhouse in Philadelphia, 1878-1895. Thesis (Ph.d.) University of Pennsylvania. 1991.
  • Cooledge, Harold Norman, Jr. Samuel Sloan (1815-1884): Architect of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania. 1986, 1991.
  • Downing, Andrew Jackson. The Architecture of Country Houses. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1851.
    • Downing is considered one of the influential forces behind American architecture of the 1850s. With reprints readily available from Dover Press, here is an easy opportunity to read what was being preached. Of particular interest for suburban domestic architecture is Section IX, "What a Country House or Villa Should Be".
  • Gallery, John Andrew, ed. Philadelphia Architecture: A Guide to the City. Philadelphia: Foundation for Architecture. 1984. 2nd ed. 1994
    • A useful and readable guide for those entirely unfamiliar with architecture as well as those who are quite familiar with it. There are overview sections on the cities historical development and prominent architects. Three sections arranged chronologically cover 400 buildings in the city. Another section has suggested tours. There is a "University City" tour (just the U. Penn Campus area) and a Powelton and Spruce Hill tour. The tours miss The Woodlands and Garden Court, but you shouldn't. If any one place reflects the layers of change to the West Philadelphia landscape it is the Woodlands.
  • McAlester, Virginia and Lee McAlester. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Knopf, 1984.
    • This is a good attempt to characterize houses based on forms and styles.
  • Mitchell, Eugene, compiler. American Victoriana: Floor Plans and Renderings from the Gilded Age, being a Gallery of Color Plates with Descriptive Text and Black and White Facsimile Pages from the Scientific American, Architects and Builders Editions, 1880 through 1905. Edited by Judith Lynch Waldhorn ; introd. by William J. Murtagh. (San Francisco: Chronicle Books) 1979. 
    • Contains a color illustration, floors plans, and brief description of the row of houses on the 4200 block of Spruce Street. Described as "Houses of Moderate Cost" for W.S. Kimball, Hewitt and Hewitt architects.
  • Sloan, Samuel. City Houses, Country Homes. 1871.
    • Sloan was one of the most prolific and influential architects of the West Philadelphia suburban houses from 1850-1860. Here are some of his plans and theories that he published later on.
  • Tatman, Sandra L and Roger W. Moss. Biographical Dictionary of Philadelphia Architects, 1700-1930. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1985. 
    • A good way to look up basic information about Philadelphia architects. Developers and builders sometimes are listed as well. Arranged alphabetically by last name.
  • White, Theo B., ed. Philadelphia Architecture in the Nineteenth Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1953, rev. d. 1972. 
    • An early re-evaluation of Philadelphia Victorian, with photographs showing condition of the buildings in the early 1950's.

Philadelphia's Growth and Related Topics

  • Boorse, J.W. Philadelphia in Motion: A Nostalgic View of How Philadelphians Traveled, 1902-1940. (Bryn Mawr, Pa.: Bryn Mawr Press, Inc.) 1976.
    • Primarily pictures with explanatory text by someone familiar with his subject. Chapters on trolleys and interurbans, the real park trolleys and trolley parks, rail travel, ferries, buses, taxis. Has before and after pictures of the Ben Franklin Parkway, and of the airport under construction. Fair amount of West Philadelphia.
  • Campbell, William Bucke. Old Towns and Districts of Philadelphia: An Address Delivered Before the City History Society of Philadelphia February 26, 1941 (City History Society of Philadelphia) 1941. [also on cover but not title page Philadelphia History vol. IV, No.5).
  • Campbell, William Bucke, ed. Philadelphia History: Consisting of Papers read before the City History Society of Philadelphia: with a history of the Society and General Index (City History Society of Philadelphia) 1941. vol.1. 
    • Compilation of papers/readings on the history of political boundaries, bridges, railroads and other topics.
  • Descriptive, Reminiscent, Sentimental Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Philadelphia, n.p., 1904. 
    • Description of Chestnut street at the turn of the century. Limited information on west Philadelphia.
  • Faris, John Thomson. Old Roads Out of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1917.
  • Foster, Kathleen A. Captain Watson's Travels in America: the sketchbooks and diary of Joshua Rowley Watson, 1772-1818. (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press) 1997. 
    • This book contains many of Watson's watercolors including those of the Schuylkill River, Gray's Ferry and surrounding area. His diary also has a short description of Hamiltonville.
  • Gillette, H and W. Culter, eds. The Divided Metropolis: Social and Spatial Dimensions in Philadelphia, 1820-1940. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1979.
  • Hershberg, Theodore, ed. Philadelphia: Work, Space, Family, and Group Experience in the Nineteenth Century: Essays Toward an Interdisciplinary History of the City. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.
    • Offers an extraordinary vista on life in Philadelphia as well as opens new avenues of research and documentation.
  • Keels, Thomas H. Philadelphia Graveyards and Cemeteries. (Images of America series) (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing) 2003. 
    • Well researched text supports provides excellent context and nearly every cemetery and graveyard is covered. Many historic photographs that show amongst others The Woodlands, Mount Moriah, Laurel Hill, and Cathedral Cemeteries in West Philadelphia.
  • Warner, Sam Bass. The Private City: Philadelphia in Three Periods of Growth. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press) 1968.
  • Webster, Richard J. Philadelphia Preserved: Catalog of the Historic American Buildings Survey. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1981.
    • Accurate listing discussing the buildings that are on the National register, are surveyed by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the like. Its greatest limitation are those of its framework - which does not include most of the buildings of the city.
  • Weigley, Russell F., ed. Philadelphia: A Three Hundred Year History (NY: WW Norton & Co) 1982.
    •  Each chapter written by a different author(s) and covers an era of the city's growth.

West Philadelphia Focus

  • Miller, Roger and Joseph Siry. "The Emerging Suburb: West Philadelphia, 1850-1880." Pennsylvania History, vol. XLVII. No.2 (April 1980). 
    • Excellent article about the early development of West Philadelphia as a modern suburb with an emphasis on the social history of the area. Highly recommended reading.
  • Skaler, Robert Morris. West Philadelphia: University City to 52nd Street. Images of America series. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing. 2002. 
    • The goal of the book is to illustrate the changes from the late 1860 to the early 1900s. This is well done. However, readers should be aware that the photographs are mostly from the first decades of the twentieth century. They should also beware that Skaler bases much of the text on stylistic changes rather than documentary research.
  • Rosenthal, Leon S. A History of Philadelphia's University City. Philadelphia: Printing Office of the University of Pennsylvania for the West Philadelphia Corp., 1963. 
    • Second book written specifically about the history of West Philadelphia. Concentrates on the history of the area before 1854, reviewing the different villages west of the Schuylkill. Some interesting information. No citations. In Part a defense of the redevelopment projects underway. The book is available on-line at A History of Philadelphia's University City - University City Historical Society
  • Taylor, Frank Hamilton. Philadelphia in the Civil War, 1861 1865. illustrated from contemporary prints and photographs and from drawings by the author. Philadelphia: The City, 1913. 
    • Contains information about the West Philadelphia General Hospital of the U.S. Army, generally known as the "Satterlee Heights Hospital," situated around 44th-46th street, Pine street, and Baltimore Avenue during the Civil War.
  • Sculpture of a City: Philadelphia's Treasures in Bronze and Stone. [sponsored by] Fairmount Park Art Association. New York: Walker Pub. Co., 1974. 
    • Includes the story of the Dickens statue in Clark park.
  • Vieira, M. Laffitte. West Philadelphia Illustrated: Early History of West Philadelphia and Its Environs, Its People and Its Historical Points. Philadelphia, PA.: Charles H. Clarke, 1903. 
    • An early books about West Philadelphia history. Contains a lot of information and illustrations. Unfortunately its organizational style, and lack of index make it a difficult reference to work with. While the lack of references is problematic, it has become in its own right, a primary source for turn of the century descriptions. Still available in many local libraries, including at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Do It Yourself Research

All good research needs to start with the legal ownership record. Basically, this requires a title search going back to the dates of interest. You can do it yourself or pay a researcher. Some other useful resources are listed below, along with older real estate atlases - many available online.

  • Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders Guide
    • Weekly report of building activity in Philadelphia from 1886-1940. More complete than permits and usually cites architects builders, and owner. Numerous misspellings and typos.
  • Alotta, Robert I. Street Names of Philadelphia (Temple University Press: Philadelphia) 1973.
    • A helpful book that sometimes is not. Clearly the author made use of city records. Perhaps too much so. This appears to be the first and best documented source for confusing the history of Baltimore Avenue & Woodland Avenue. For the record, Woodland Avenue is the old Darby Road dating from the eighteenth century. Nice bibliography of both primary and secondary sources.
  • Clio Group, Inc. Philadelphia Historic Resources Survey
    • More than 500 surveys cards have been filled out, documenting over 2,000 buildings throughout West Philadelphia. A good resource to consult for precise information about individual buildings. Available in Harrisburg. Copies of some fiches at the Philadelphia Historical Commission.
  • National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmark Nominations
    • These forms are frequently a good starting point; particularly ones professionally prepared. However, they rarely include citations and documentation information on the nomination form itself. Copies for Philadelphia are available at the City's Historical Commission, and also online from the State Historic Preservation Office. Several for West Philadelphia have been put online by local community groups.

Exhibit by Matthew Grubel, 2008