Sketches of Philadelphia in 1861:

Watercolors by Taylor

Home 1700 Market Street 2000 Arch Street 2100 Arch Street Research/Sources


Project Overview

The Winterthur Library at the University of Delaware holds a collection of watercolor sketches created in 1861 by a Philadelphia artist identified only as Taylor. While these sketches depict streetscapes in Philadelphia, notations provide only the barest information about the buildings’ locations and offer nothing about the inhabitants.

This project seeks to document buildings in three of Taylor’s sketches. Through map, deed, and archival research, we have determined the buildings’ precise locations, earliest documented date of existence, and date of demolition. Wherever possible, we have tried to develop a narrative of the buildings’ owners and occupants. We have focused our search on the 1700 Market Street properties, particularly on 1725 Market Street, for which there is the richest record. This web site contains a record of research, including written summaries, timelines, maps, and images.

Why Taylor created these sketches is a mystery. Perhaps in the face of the rapid development occurring in many parts of the city, he sought to preserve images of an older Philadelphia soon to be destroyed. The wooden dwellings on the 2000 and 2100 blocks of Arch Street were replaced by brick rowhouses soon after Taylor painted them. The buildings at 1700 Market were among the last wood-framed structures on a block lined with masonry buildings.Whatever his motivation, Taylor has provided us with an important visual record of the Philadelphia’ past.


Project and Web Site by J. Verhosek and S. Katz, University of Pennsylvania, Historic Preservation Program


Last Updated December 11, 2004