Market Street 1600-1850
1. Market Street between 3rd & 4th Streets taken from John Hills' 1796 "City Plan of Philadelphia and its Environs." Free Library of Philadelphia
2. "Interior of the Market House in Market Street, 1800," from 'Birch's Views of Philadelphia.' Reprinted in Joseph Jackson (1918), p. 38. 3.Detail from Baxter's Panoramic Business Directory of Philadelphia for 1860 from Places in Time

William Penn conceived of Market Street (originally named High Street) in 1680 while he was still in England.看 He planned out his dream on the land between the Schuylkill and the Delaware rivers, a perfect spot with water access at both ends.看 The first stretch of Market Street extended westward from the Delaware.看 Ships carrying goods were unloaded at the docks and then sent into town via Market Street.看

In 1723, the 300 block of Market was still considered the western boundary of the city (1).看 The pond that in 1683 had been described as offering the most 蠟successful shooting of wild ducks and geese蠡 was still at the corner of Fourth and Market (2). But there were also signs of a well established urban fabric.看 The Stone prison had been built on the southwest corner of 3rd and Market in 1722, and in the years following, more and more shops and residences were built along the bustling avenue.

The changing of the times was reflected upon the landscape of the 300 block.看 Covered market sheds selling fresh produce and fish extended westward away from the river on Market Street, reaching Third Street in 1759 and Fourth Street in 1786.看 In 1795 the successful local businessman Richard Wistar built what was then the highest home in Philadelphia at the northwest corner of 3rd and Market.看 The city蘗s first railroad tracks made it as far as Third and Market, crowding the busy street even more and eventually it was decided that the market sheds had to come down in order to make more room.看

What do we know about the inhabitants of our block?看 Who lived there?看 What kinds of products and service were sold in the businesses that occupied the 300 block of Market?看 In his book Market Street: The Most Historic Highway in America, Joseph Jackson compiles a list of owners and/or residents of Market Street at three different points in time, most likely using the various city directories available.看 His data for 1785 show many names but few specified businesses, and our own investigation of the directories confirmed that in most cases, little more information was available.看

By 1801, however, we have a more comprehensive view of the kinds of daily activities going on in our block. Of the 21 addresses listed on the northern side of the 300 block only 4 are listed as private residences with no type of commercial function.看 Throughout the rest of the block, however, we see that a variety of different products and services were offered.看 The majority of the businesses are described as 蠟Merchants,蠡 but there was also a glove maker (#305), a boarding house (#319), and even a brewery (#339).看 Only 3 of the buildings were listed as having women as the owners, up from one in the 1785 data.


1. Joseph Jackson, Market Street: The Most Historic Highway in America (Philadelphia: 1918) 42.

2. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Year by Year, 1678-1700 (Philadelphia: 1930) 21.

3. Photograph of 301 Market Street as it appeared in 1914. It is one of the only original buildings remaining on the block today. Reprinted in Joseph Jackson (1918) p. 43.