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