Photos

From the Archives: Mill Creek Sewer under construction 1883


This has become an iconic photograph, used in books, articles and other publications to illustrate both 19th-century sewer building and, more specifically, the process of building a combined sewer in a stream bed. The stream, Mill Creek, rises near Narbeth, in Montgomery County, PA, and once flowed for five miles through West Philadelphia, from the aptly-named Overbrook railroad station near 63rd St. and City Avenue down to the Schuylkill River along the line of 43rd Street. Today, only the section of creek in Montgomery County remain above ground; within the city limits, the main creek and all its tributaries were incorporated into the Philadelphia sewer system, a 30-year project that began in 1869 and ended around 1900.


The bottom half of the sewer, called the invert, was already constructed by the time this photograph was taken, and Mill Creek had already been diverted into this artificial channel. The masons are now constructing the top half of the sewer, called the arch. You can see the circular wooden form on which the bricks are being laid, two bricks thick at the top. The form is about 20 feet long, and once the mortar sets the form will be dismantled and reconstructed to build the next 20 foot section.


Some of the workers have stood still for the camera’s long exposure, while those who moved while the shutter was open appear only as see-through ghosts. Two children look to be on their way to or from (or maybe skipping) school to observe the work. In the upper right is a textile factory building that had used the water of Mill Creek for industrial processes such as washing, bleaching and dyeing; now it will have to use city water for these purposes. On the left a remnant of the natural creek bed is visible, and in the background are houses that have already been built right up to the edge of the work in progress.


After the sewer was completed, the land was filled about 30 feet above the original stream bed, the grid of streets was laid across the valley, and this once-rural area was transformed into part of urbanized Philadelphia by the development that quickly followed. The sewage of these new houses and businesses, carried by a system of tributary pipes, flowed into the Mill Creek Sewer, along with stormwater and the remnant flow of the above-ground portion of the stream. With the creek buried out of sight, it quickly dropped out of mind, and people who lived in the neighborhood called Overbrook, or even one called Mill Creek, could not tell you the source of those names. Meanwhile, forgotten or not, the old mill stream, now conscripted to the dirty job of carrying away a neighborhood’s wastes, still rolls on, beneath the streets.

Fishing for Some Fun


Saturday, September 7th was a picture –perfect fall day for the 9th annual Fish Fest. Over 100 anglers of all different ages came out to Schuylkill Banks to compete for Smallest Fish, Largest Fish, and Most Fish Caught. Judges awarded prizes such as deluxe tackle boxes and rods from Plano and Dick’s Sporting Goods to the lucky winners. In total, fishers hauled in eighty-one fish and six different species including Channel Catfish, Bluegill, Striped Bass, American Eel, American Shad and White Perch.


The Philadelphia Water Department partners with the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Fish & Boat Commission, and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to host Fish Fest each year.


Check out more photos from the Fish Fest by clicking on the slide show below!


 

Reel Good Time: Photos from the 2012 Philly Fun Fishing Fest

Last weekend's Philly Fun Fishing Fest was, um, off the hook. Nearly 100 participants came to the Schuylkill banks, and the fish were definitely biting. A total of 225 fish were caught; 10 different species were hauled in during the catch-and-release event, including striped bass, white perch, yellow perch, channel catfish, white catfish, small-mouthed bass, blue gill, alewife, spot and blueback herring.

Thanks to our sponsors (Dick's Sporting Goods and Plano) and our partners (Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Schuylkill River Development Corporation). More photos after the jump.

Scenes from the Northern Liberties Spokesdog Contest

Last weekend, Northern Liberties awarded its spokesdog title to Scooter, a Schnauzer-Beagle mix who'll help educate pet owners about the importance of picking up dog waste in order to keep our streams and rivers clean. Thanks to all the dog owners, judges and participants in this year's spokesdog contest! Above, Scooter is dog tired after a rigorous competition.

Good Dogs: Photos from the Queen Village Spokesdog Competition

Here's our photo essay from last weekend's Philly Water's Best Friend competition at Mario Lanza Park in Queen Village. Thanks to all the dog owners, judges, volunteers and neighbors who turned out for a fun event that was part doggie pageant and part quiz show—above, Betty the pug tackles a tough question from the judges about keeping our waterways clean by picking up pet waste. Nice job, Betty.

And a reminder—the Northern Liberties spokesdog competition is tomorrow at 3 p.m. in Liberty Lands.

Frankford Depaving Project Is Complete

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Yesterday, a group of volunteers braved the wet weather to plant the final two rain gardens at a partially depaved lot at Eadom and Bridge streets (just west of I-95) in Frankford. A crew including employees of the Philadelphia Water Department and GreenTreks, along with volunteers from the NorthEast Treatment Center, planted almost a dozen varieties of vegetation (including sedum, switchgrass, Virginia sweetspire and Viburnum) and brought the total number of rain gardens in the lot to six. In all, the Eadom Street project has converted 10,000 square feet of impervious concrete to rain gardens that allow stormwater to infiltrate the soil instead of flowing into our sewers. The rain gardens will manage stormwater runoff from two acres.

Learn more about depaving.

More photos of yesterday's planting after the jump.

North Philly Celebrates Green Infrastructure

Mayor Nutter swung by last week's Soak It Up! event in North Philly to commemorate the installation of stormwater tree trenches near 7th and Cumberland streets. The tree trenches are just one tool used to manage rain water and prevent sewer overflows into our rivers and streams. Check out our updated Green City, Clean Waters page for the complete story of how Philadelphia is using natural, green processes to solve the problem of combined sewer overflows.

 
Students from the nearby John F. Hartranft elementary school helped decorate the tree trenches with flower plantings.

There weren't just snacks. There were snacks and smoothies. 

East Falls—you're next. Join us on Thursday, April 5 at 4:30 at Queen Lane and Fox Street to dedicate the city's first stormwater bumpouts.

East Germantown Soaked It Up

Last week, Soak It Up, Philly! hit East Germantown to celebrate the six stormwater tree trenches on Belfield Avenue. The Philadelphia Water Department's third Soak It Up event drew a crowd—the community came out to see how PWD's green infrastructure absorbs rain water and works toward preventing sewer overflows in our rivers and streams. Neighbors enjoyed refreshments, art activities, flower plantings and more yarn art around the trees.

The next Soak It Up event is this Thursday, March 29 at 7th and Cumberland streets in North Philadelphia.

Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club President Rev. Chester Williams and PWD Comissioner Howard Neukrug dedicate the stormwater tree trenches.

Plantings around the street trees help beautify the neighborhood.

See South Philly Soak It Up

On March 8, our second Soak It Up! event took place at 16th and Jackson streets in South Philly. Neighbors joined city officials and PWD employees to celebrate the stormwater tree trenches that absorb runoff and make 16th Street a green street. Above, children from the neighborhood plant flowers around the trees.

PWD commissioner Howard Neukrug, Newbold Civic Association's Naomi Geschwind and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson after the ribbon-cutting.

These kids are both expert gardeners and professional chalk artists.

Another PWD-sponsored yarn bombing by ishknits

Most Sustainable In Show: PWD Flower Show Display Wins Sustainability Award

The 2012 International Flower Show, which wrapped up last week, aimed to take visitors on a trip to Hawaii. The Philadelphia Water Department's display, however, kept it right here in Philly, demonstrating how green roofs, rain gardens and other green infrastructure can beautify our city while managing stormwater runoff that pollutes our rivers and streams. Scale models of some of Philly's most famous buildings show how green the city could be, earning the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Sustainability Award for the exhibit demonstrating the best use of sustainable gardening practices to the public.

Visit PWD's Facebook page to see more photos.

 

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