Places in Time: Project 1: Anna Blinn and Claire Mahler

A Glimpse into the History of the 401 Block of Arch Street, Philadelphia.

The north side of Arch St. between 4th and 5th streets has evolved from residential, to commercial, to industrial and finally to governmental. This website examines the state of the block over a course of two centuries with particular emphasis on the corner lot, #401. This project is a part of a class entitled Field Techniques: Places in Time (Growth and Structure of Cities 306) at Bryn Mawr College. In this project we endeavor to tell the story of a block using Philadelphia's various holdings of historical documents as primary sources. Enjoy your peek into this small, once forgotten, now unrecognizable block of Philadelpia.


(This panorama is taken from a series in the Dreer Manuscripts done between 1870 and 1880 and has been digitized from the collections at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania for the Places in Time website.)

Our site is divided into four sections listed below. Please feel free to skip around, but in order to follow the story as we envision it, start with The Corner and move on from there.

The Corner

The northwest corner of Arch and Fourth Streets, pictured above in drawing and photograph, offer a unique case study in the development of Philadelphia. A chronilogical history of this corner is given with maps, pictures and other primary documents telling the story of land ownership, shifting functions and radical change.

The Block

This page gives the story of the larger block that the above corner sits on (the north side of Arch between 4th and 5th streets. This history describes general phases the block went through from the late 1700's until the present, supplemented with maps and other diagrams that help us understand the physical changes through time.

The Surrounding City

This section gives an overview of the city scenes and happenings around 4th and Arch as the city progressed through the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

Maps Supplement

The Maps Supplement is a list of maps of the block starting in 1860 and ending in 2004. Most of these maps were made for fire insurance evaulation. They offer us detailed information about changes in physical structures and ownership on this block.