Observations of Montulé

Printed in Westcott's History of Philadelphia, from the Time of the First Settlements on the Delaware to the Time of the Consolidation of the City in 1854 (Philadelphia, mounted and bound by Pawson and Nicolson for Brinton Cox, 1886), Chapter DCCCXVII, p. 1282, 'Topographical Changes Between 1800 and 1825."

Westcott's History was a series of articles, printed each week in Philadelphia's Sunday Dispatch over several decades. The author would often include long quotations from members of Philadelphia society or important foreign visitors in his commentaries. The articles have been copied and bound into a five volume set which is available to researchers at the American Philosophical Society, and several other Philadelphia-area libraries and archives.

Westcott credits Montulé, "a Frenchman," as having written these observations in 1821. Monutlé is actually Edouard de Montulé, who made his voyage in November of 1816, stopping first in the West Indies, then the American West, and finally making his way back to New York City on the 6th of October, 1817. Montulé's journal was published in Paris in 1821, as Voyage en Amérique, en Italie... . Edward D. Seeber published an English translation that same year, which is most likely where Westcott came up with the 1821 date. A 1950 edition of Seeber's translation, Travels in America, 1816 - 1817, published by Indiana University, contains engravings after original drawings by Montulé to illustrate his story.

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All the streets are either straight or parallel with the Delaware, being at least eight fathoms wide, paved with small round stones similar to many places in the south of France. On either side there are footways from eight to ten feet wide, paved with bricks, and kept remarkably clean, and about every hundred paces distant, on either side of the street, there are pumps supporting lamps, added to which poplars and plantain trees skirt the footpaths, whose verdure during the summer season must aggreably break the uniform color of the houses, the major part of which are brick. The doors are usually very much ornamented, and open upon a flight of white marble steps, decorated by a tasteful iron balcony, which is kept particularly neat and clean. In the middle of the city is Market Street, being nearly twice the width of any other, which divides in the centre all those that run parallel with the river. The market is kept in the middle, being a kind of grannary supported by pillars, the whole displaying an air of perfect cleanliness. It is divided in several parts, each approtriated to its peculiar kind of merchandise....The market is only held in the morning.

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Last updated 15 June 1998