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Dam and Water Works, Philadelphia, The #1

Pattern Category: Places

Series: Fruit and Flower Border

Object Type: Dinner and Dessert Wares


  • Diameter: 10 inches


The view on this plate is known as the "Side Wheel" boat view as opposed to the "Stern Wheel" version.  See Version #2 of this pattern to view the latter design.  The backgrounds of the Water Works are the same on each.  In the late 1700s, yellow fever epidemics — then thought by some to be a water-borne disease — compelled civic leaders to name a Watering Committee (forebear of the Philadelphia Water Department) to assure a constant supply of uncontaminated drinking water. 
Committee members eventually chose Frederick Graff to build a waterworks on the eastern bank of the Schuylkill.  Graff's initial use of steam engines to lift water from the river eventually gave way to waterwheels in July 1822.  Powered by the river, pumps raised water into reservoirs high atop a nearby hill, Faire Mount.  By 1872, even more efficient water-driven Jonval turbines replaced the waterwheels. 
Already an aesthetic triumph, the Water Works became one of the most profitable and prestigious businesses in the City when it adopted water power. The Engine House that had housed the steam engines was remodeled in 1935 as a restaurant for the thousands of international visitors to the site.