This page reports the findings made by looking deeper into the questions of textile and place.
Looking up the store owners mentioned on the Rae panoramas (including Stokes, Beatty, etc. as described on the "Preliminary Study" page) in the city directory seemed the logical next step. Strangely enough, I did not find Samuel O. Stokes, Irvine C. Beatty or Joshua L. Baily in the 1880 directory. The data for that directory would have been gathered at the same time as the panoramas were published. According to my understanding of the city directories, that unlike the Blue Book social registers, wealth and prestige had nothing to do with the record, this dearth of information comes with no clear explanation. Perhaps the client lived outside of Philadelphia. But what are the odds of numerous clients who own property near one another living outside of the range of record keeping at that point Philadelphia's history? Without further coinciding evidence little concrete sense can be made of the situation.
This problem of mysteriously incomplete directories cuts off a significant amount of potentially telling information. I looked forward to charting the residences of textile vendors as compared to the location of their businesses. That, in turn, would lead to a comparison of the dwelling locations of wholesalers to dry goods salesmen to ascertain if any trend appeared. Perhaps a future researcher can find a correlation between the location of the shop and the income of the owner or between the type of shop and the common neighborhood in which its owner would live. These queries pose questions of social and economic stratification as well as uncovering the way in which people in Philadelphia at the time viewed their connection with the workplace.
Next in my search I ran across a few books about the textile industry. These books, however, did not cover the range of Chestnut Street I desired to study. Among these volumes unhelpful to my study I found, "The Blue Book" Textile Directory of the United States and Canada (6th annual edition (New York: Davison Publishing Co.) 1893-4). Within this Blue Book textile companies show some advertisements as well as business listings organized by state. I created two databases from sets of information in the book. The tables include the name of the company that advertised in that section, the address of said company, and a description of the goods prepared by that company.
The first set of data concerns all of the major advertisers who have some connection to Philadelphia's Chestnut Street in 1893/1894.
The second set of data concerns all of the "Dry Goods Commission Merchants" whose shops were on Chestnut Street.
One striking feature about these data is that nearly all of the stores include the owner's name. This tradition carries over to contemporary commerce but to a much lesser degree. One is likely now to find a store with a name other than the patron's.
A small set of the first category had a tie to Chestnut Street whereas quite a large proportion of the Dry Goods listings were located on Chestnut. This provides evidence for my hypothesis that most of the milling and sewing of Philadelphia textile work occurred in factories away from the compact center of 19th century Philadelphia.
To analyze my data I first looked at the list of Chestnut Street shops as a whole. I organized my table to be sorted by house number and noticed that nearly all the listings fell within the first two blocks of Chestnut Street, that is, between front and 3rd streets.
I then proceeded to retrieve images of Baxter's panoramas to compare the street address on the page of the Blue Book to the shape, size, and location of the building itself. Focusing on the 100 and 200 blocks, north and south, I colored the façade of every storefront named in the textile directory. Below, the green sections designate a textile-related shop.
Clearly, the textile industry had a foothold in the eastern blocks of Chestnut Street. The listed buildings constitute nearly half of the built environment represented on Baxter's panorama of 1879 (the latest panorama of which I could acquire copies). Not all dry goods stores or factories necessarily advertised in this Blue Book
Questioning the split of the two sets of data, I next plotted the major advertisers against the dry goods listings for the 100 and 200 blocks (north and south) of Chestnut Street. The light blue designates a major advertiser, the yellow shows dry goods stores.
There seemed to be no particular logic behind the placement of the detailed advertisements as compared with the placement of the dry goods shops. each side of the block had some of each and an in no overtly evident pattern. Interestingly enough, all but one of the major advertisers' buildings on Chestnut Street were listed as "offices." These are demarcated with an "o" above the corresponding façade.
The prevalence of the dry goods shop called for additional study. The buildings range from three to seven stories in height, and with a variety of widths of frontages. All of the shops sport exaggerated first floors. The added height and large windows designate their commercial function and allow for the display of goods to passers-by.
ìSpecialties are to be distinguished from staple goods, the standardized output of many New England and Southern mass production mills. They include both unusual items, like lace and trimmings, and batch-manufactured goods of widely varied patterns, and textures which changed with the shifts in fashions (carpets, tapestries, upholsteries, worsted suitings). Also in the specialty group are yarns spun in a broad range of counts and the dyeing firms which colored them in many hues for use in short-life woven and knitted goods. Examples of staples include cotton sheetings, tickings and print-cloths, woolen broad-cloths, blankets and solid color stockingsî (Scranton, 6).
Though they fall under the same headiing, "dry goods," not all of the textile-related shops had identical functions.. Rather, a mix of cotton goods, woolen goods, knitted goods, yarns, and other distinctions helped to set each store apart from the next. I reorganized the data of the Dry Goods Merchants index and found a dramatic split in popular items. By far, cotton goods and yarns topped the list of items in which the stores specialize. (I included in both categories the stores that listed both cotton goods and yarn.)
I then colored red those who designated that they sold cotton goods and orange those who identified themselves as yarn merchants.
On the whole, the yarn shops appear larger in size than do the cotton goods merchants. Perhaps this is due to the fact that a significant number of people still made their own clothing at home therefore more raw materials would be needed than pre-made. Another issue might be one of storage but these practices are not well documented and therefore cannot be investigated in this study.
In a search of the Campbell collection, I found numerous references to Darlington, Runk & Co. A prominent dry goods shop located at 1126-1128 Chestnut Street, the store touted itself as "Importers & retailers of the finest dry goods at the lowest prices" (p.121). The store is pictured below; it is the second building from the right.
An ornate frontage, Darlington, Runk & Co. without a doubt took great care in presenting a high-class image. Philip Scranton describes that ìThe ornamental styles of the late Victorian era meshed neatly with the core capacities of Philadelphia's textile firms, specializaton and flexibilityî (Scranton, 9). In creating an industry in Philadelphia centered on quality and versatility instead of sheer quantity of output, the mills and textile shops could produce fashion-conscious products for which there was a strong desire. He goes on to explain that, ìthe market for these city-made goods was itself in large proportion urban, as city-dwellers I middle and upper classes had the resources and the desire for fabrics that reflected their status in the consumer hierarchyî (Scranton, 9). The exclusivity of European-influenced designs maintained many dry goods stores as upper eschelon shops catering mainly to those who had significant expendable income.
The newspaper clippings that depicted the interior of the Darlington, Runk & Co. store give one a better sense of the space within a dry good store. The caption reveals that the business's selling floors run 235 feet deep. To give a feeling of luxury and airyness, the building has very high ceilings. As one can remark from the Baxter panorama of the 1100 block, a few other structures have first floors roughly the same height--judging by the figures drawn in front, perhaps 20 feet tall. The business is large enough to be split into distinct departments. For example, coats, furs, & dressmaking (2 nd floor North) or upholstery, furniture, & curtain (2 nd floor South). The plans are very open. Only a handful of Corinthian columns (presumably for structural support) break up the space. Each floor has a different façadeósmaller openings at top, more grand at bottom. This is a common architectural technique employed to vary the surface and to indicate height or purpose within.
In this project I ran into a number of dead ends, frustrating parts of undertaking that are bound to happen but greatly change the original prospectus of the research. Ideally, more study could be devoted to the tracing of the textile industry in Philadelphia. Other areas in which I have interest include studying floor plans of the shops or trying to find more advertisements to give me a better idea of how the interior space might have been organized. Too, I would like to be able to reproduce more the images I found. I understand that exposure to the light needed for a photocopy or a digital photograph may be detrimental to the historic documents; hopefully some technology will soon be available with which to replicate aged or fragile resources so that researchers may analyze them in such a way that the reader could follow along and understand the visuals to which the researcher refers.
Baxter's Panoramas taken from www.brynmawr.edu/iconog/baxter/
Scranton, Philip, Philadelphia system of textile manufacture 1884-1984 (Philadelphia: Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science) 1984.
Scranton, Philip, Figured tapestry: Production, markets, and power in Philadelphia textiles, 1885-1941 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 1989.
Link To Primary Study