Taylor "Views of Old Philadelphia," 1861
Winterthur Library

Folio 268 in the Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera at the Winterthur Library is identified as "Taylor, Sketchbook, 1861." This is a single volume measuring 34 by 27 cm. It includes 57 pencil and wash sketches of Philadelphia-area locations dated between April and September of that year. The artist identified the locations, but signed each sheet with only his surname.

The volume's spine bears the title "Views of Old Philadelphia" and the initials JMP or JPM; this incarnation probably succeeded the artist's involvement with the sketches by some years, and a penciled note on the rear endpapers may suggest that the images were mounted and bound in 1913. This is the likely date of transcriptions of captions neatly lettered on the mounting sheets, which offer further information about individual buildings. These note changes in scenes and buildings depicted, referencing dates between 1862 and 1892, along with some information from older city directories, but slips ("Stodar" for Stocker on no. 21, "Stites" for Stiles on no. 29) suggest that the ruled notes were transcriptions from now-lost identifying notes by someone with more expert antiquarian knowledge attentively observing change in these settings.

That person was almost certainly Philadelphia antiquarian Ferdinand J. Dreer (1812-1902). A note at the front of the volume records that these views were purchased at the sale of Dreer's materials in 1913 at the Davis & Harvey auction rooms on Walnut near 11th (for a 1914 watercolor of it, now at Bryn Mawr College, see http://www.brynmawr.edu/iconog/bmcfox/chels2.htm). Dreer seems to have been in close contact with Taylor from nearly the start: sketch no. 51, a view of Adam Everly's countryseat in the Mantua neighborhood, bears Taylor's inscribed date of 17 April 1861 along with a reference to an 1835 date and the note, "From a drawing made for Ferdinand Dreer in 1861." Dreer is also thought to have directed the drawing efforts, in some degree, of David Johnston Kennedy (1816/17-98), who sketched at least a few of the same sites from slightly different vantage points.

Another view, no. 46, is inscribed "1855," almost certainly a reference to a photograph of that date: Robert F. Looney, Old Philadelphia in Early Photographs, 1839-1914 (New York, 1976), no. 96, shows a photograph, dated c. 1854, that was taken from almost precisely the same vantage point, if slightly more widely framed, now at the Free Library of Philadelphia [link to image]. Shutters that are shown as closed in both views and awnings identically extended at right on Fourth Street confirm the source, and also indicate the degree of editing that went into Taylor's version: in addition to the cropping, some telegraph poles and street lamps have been left out, along with the foreground wall of the Quaker meeting's property, which crossed the lower right third of the photograph. A second photograph of a subject found here, this one Looney's no. 20, is a view by John Moran dated Sept. 1860 [link to image]; it shows almost precisely the same subject as Taylor's no. 39, but from a different angle. Windows, shutters, and people are also differently placed, and Taylor's could likely be an independent image, its maker similarly attracted by the uniquely skewed roof on the addition at right. Still, there is an odd, seemingly unnatural foreshortening toward the left side of the hotel's sign as if it were not parallel to the facade; in the photograph, this is lettered identically, but on the fringed front of an awning glimpsed more obliquely (and less legibly) rather than on a board.

The artist is not further identified anywhere in the volume, and the supposition has long been offered that these are by Frank Hamilton Taylor (1846-1926), a Philadelphia artist with very similar interests, but it now seems much more likely that these are by James E. Taylor (1839-1901). [For a discussion of this, see the note below.]

The sketchbook was brought to our attention in summer 2004 by Aaron Wunsch, a doctoral candidate at Berkeley and Winterthur Fellow completing his dissertation research. In Fall 2004 and again in Fall 2005, sets of these images were proferred to students as subjects for research as part of a graduate course on architectural research, HSPV 600, in the Historic Preservation Program at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design, as well as teams of Bryn Mawr and Haverford College students in Growth & Structure of Cities 306, Advanced Feldwork Techniques. Teams of students each adopted a set of two to four related views selected by the instructor. The teams were meant to use various archival resources to delve into the histories of the locations, tracing and telling the stories of these places from the depicted buildings' genesis, mostly in the 18th or early 19th century, until their disappearance. Taylor seems to have chosen some of his subjects because their removal appeared imminent in 1861, when new construction was very quickly replacing buildings and scenes of this vintage. This was especially the case for the modest, wooden buildings depicted in several of the sketches, along with some marooned on once-elevated sites as the grid of Philadelphia's urban streets was extended and graded amid formerly peripheral locations.

Students created websites for about 42 of the 57 sketches. The Penn Design graduate students projects were given additional digital sophistication through most students' simultaneous enrollment in HSPV 624: Digital Media, taught by Judy Peters and John Hinchman.

The circles on the map below represent approximate locations for each sketch. Those marked by dots below generally link to these projects in groupsof two or three sketches. Those in yellow are mostly (except for a few) now linked to images of individual sketches. Locations beyond the edge of the map are roughly represented by dots along the map's borders. Permission to post the scanned images of the Taylor Sketchbook was provided courtesy of The Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera; just a reminder that the images should not be republished in any way without express permission of The Winterthur Library.

The base map above is excerpted from J. H. Colton & Co.,"Philadelphia" (New York, 1855).

Textual links to the student projects from 2004, linked graphically in green above:

Textual links to the student projects from 2005, linked graphically in yellow above:

[Big working images here]

1. South side Spruce Street above Second St.
June 1861. [larger]
2. Fifth and Gaskill Streets. Formerly Potts Presbyterian Church - In 1860 African Church. Now 1864 occupied by German Catholics
June 1861.
3. West side Twelfth Street above Chestnut.Street corner of Clover Street
July 1861.
4. 103 Chestnut Street, north side west of Front Street
May 1861.
5. Boston Row, present site of Chestnut Street Theatre
June 1861.
6. Northeast corner of Chestnut and Fifteenth Street
Torn down 1871.
June 1861
7. North side of Walnut Street, West of Twenty-first St, torn down Feb. 1868.
April 1861.
8. Northeast corner Walnut and Second Street
July 1861.
9. South side of Arch St., West of Twentieth St.
April 1861.
10. Harding Hotel over Wire Bridge
Torn down 1869.
April 1861.
11. Library Street.
Present site of Post Office and U.S. Court 1864.
12. North side Library Street Present site of Post Office & U.S. Court.
July 1861.
13. Union Refreshment Saloon,
Washington Avenue Entrance
July 1861.
14. Refreshment Saloon during the War.
July 1861.
15. Southeast corner of Locust and Acorn Alley.
July 1861.
16. Northwest corner of Lombard and Fifth Street
x - Goodfellow's School
May 1861.
17. Northwest corner of Walnut and Twenty-first Streets.
Rear part fell down in 1862
Torn down 1868.
April 1861.
18. Market South side east of Eighth Street.
x - Rebuilt 1868
June 1861.
19. North side of Spruce west of Fifth Street.
August 1861.
20. Southwest corner of Spruce and Fourth Street.
July 1861.
21. J. Clements Stodar [Stocker] - Country Seat.
Federal Street near Eighteenth Street
House supported by timbers while digging out the Clay to make bricks.
August 1861.
22. Southwest corner of Lombard and Fifth Street
May 1861.
23. Northwest corner of Pear and Dock Street
x- Gen'l J. Wilkinson's Residence
See Directory 1797.
May 1861.
24. North side Market west of Seventh Street.
Present site of J. B. Lippincott's Book Store.
x - Michael Tracy - Confectioner
x - Solomon Alter
June 1861.
25. North side Market between Seventeenth and Eighteenth Street
May 1861.
26. Corner of Ann and Eighteenth Street near Spruce Street.
Torn down 1867
May 1861.
27. Southeast corner of Lombard and Fifth Street
September 1861.
28. Jew's burying Ground, North side of Spruce near Ninth Street
x Torn down 1892. Hospital erected a Building
June 1861.
  29. South Second Street, west side No. 254 - once occupied by Rev. Ezra Stites [Stiles?], stands back.
September 1861.
30. East side of Fifth Street between George and Poplar St.
September 1861.
31. Southeast corner of Arch and Front Street.
July 1861.
32. Northeast corner Fourth and Lombard Streets.
May 1861.
33. Northwest corner of Third and Lombard Street
June 1861.
34. West side of Schuylkill opposite Fairmount
April 17th 1861.
35. Southwest corner of Third and Lombard Streets.
July 1861.
36. Northwest corner of Coates near Fairmount.
Torn down and added to the Park, 1869.
July 1861.
37. Southwest corner of Sansomand Eleventh Street.
x - Mooney's Tavern.
July 1861.
38. Southwest corner of Lombard and Second Street.
August 1861.
39. Northwest corner of Spruce and Dock Street.
July 1861.
40. Northeast corner of Fourth and Pine Street.
June 1861.
41. South side of Arch Street west of Twenty-first Street.
April 1861.
42. North side of Walnut west of Third St.
x Bishop Whites Residence
x Chas. Chauncey's Residence
torn down 1872.
September 1861.
43. North side of Walnut near Third Street [restored].
x Bishop Whites - Residence
x Residence of Charles Chauncey - torn down 1872.
44. Southeast corner of Lombard and Third Street.
June 1861. [larger]
45. Southeast corner of Spruce and Third Street.
June 1861.
46. Northwest corner of Arch and Fourth Street
47. East side of Second near Spruce Street.
x C. B. Mersch.
September 1861.
48. Rear of 135 North Fourth above Arch Street.
German School House. Occupied 1830 by J. G. Miller - Organist to German Church.
April 1861.
49. Residence of George Ord
784 South Front St.
August 1861 [larger]
50. Northwest corner of Ridge and Thirty-second St.
April 1861. [larger]
51. Country Seat of Adam Everly
"Mantua 1835"
Fronting on the Schuykill River & Haverford Road
"From a drawing made for Ferdinand J. Dreer in 1861."
April 17, 1861 [larger].
52. Farm House on Sedgely near Fairmount Park.
July 1861.
53. [Lead statue and pedestal at Belmont, with transcribed inscription]
July 1861 [larger].
54. Chestnut Tree planted by "Washington" at Judge Peters' Farm," [Belmont]
July 1861 [larger].
55. Judge Peters Residence [Belmont]
July 1861.
56. Belmont now in the Park
July 1861.
57. Near Battle Field Red Bank
Count Donap died in this House now owned by Whittal Family
April 1861.

A Note on Authorship: On 7 January 2005, Michael Seneca of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia quickly offered a likely resolution for the hitherto mysterious matter of Taylor's identity. These sketches at Wintherthur were almost surely the work of James E. Taylor (1839-1901), a professional illustrator later renowned for images of the American West, many appearing in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper in the decades following the Civil War.

An exhibition website, "Drawing the Western Frontier: The James E. Taylor Album" [http://www.nmnh.si.edu/naa/taylor/taylor.htm], focuses on a photographic scrapbook Taylor assembled, which has been held since 1961 in the National Anthropological Archives of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. The website text, written by Paula Fleming, tells more about Taylor's later works and life, offering links to many of the images he devised or collected (mostly photographs).

According to the website, Taylor was born in Cincinnati and graduated from Notre Dame. In the spring of 1861 he would have been in his early twenties, and he joined the Tenth New York Infantry near the start of the Civil War. The National Park Service's "Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System" indicates that this unit was organized in New York City from 27 April 27 to 2 May 1861 and then headed for Fortress Monroe, Va., on 6 June 1861. Why Taylor would have been in Philadelphia beyond their departure is as yet unclear, but his period sketching in Philadelphia may have preceded his joining the unit and heading southward into the fray. He began work for Leslie's Illustrated in 1862, a fruitful association he continued until 1883. His work mainly concerned life and conflict on the western frontier, and in that connection he became known as "The Indian Artist." He died in New York in 1901.

Although Frank Hamilton Taylor was the author of Philadelphia in the Civil War, 1860-65 in 1913 and the creator of many watercolors of old Philadelphia street scenes, other evidence points away from him: he was just 15 in 1861 and does not appear to have come to Philadelphia until later; further, the hand in the sketches seems to resemble that seen in the subsequent work of James E. Taylor far more than that of Frank H. Taylor.

Paula Fleming cites two published references, and there was also an extended death notice:

--Jeffrey A. Cohen, Instructor, HSPV 600, University of Pennsylvania School of Design,
and Senior Lecturer, Growth & Structure of Cities Program, Bryn Mawr College.

draft, last rev.= 27 March 06 jc