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1878 1880

Philadelphia Timeline, 1879


  • January 6. Octavius V. Catto school for colored children, Lombard Street above Twentieth, formally opened.
  • January 6 and 7. Largest sheriff's sale of real estate ever known in Philadelphia. Nearly 700 properties were levied upon and advertised to be sold.
  • January 10. Benjamin Hunter, convicted of the murder of John M. Armstrong, music typographer of Philadelphia, hanged at Camden, N. J.
  • January 15. United States Centennial Commission met for the last time at the Continental Hotel, and received and adopted the final report of the committee on finance and accounts.
  • January 20. Cotton and wollen mills of John Brown & Son, corner of Eighth and Tasker Streets, burned; loss, $200,000.
  • February 8. Machinery Hall, Fairmount Park, originally built for the use of the Centennial Exhibition, and which cost the city of Philadelphia $634,867.48, was sold at auction to W. P. Allison & Son for $24,600. The building consisted of a main hall 360 feet wide and $1,402 feet long, and an annex 208x210 feet.
  • March 1. Cracker bakery of Walter G. Wilson & Co., 212-214 North Front Street, destroyed by fire; loss, $40,000.
  • March 10. The building formerly the Arch Street opera House, opened as "The Park Theatre," under the management of George K. Goodwin.
  • March 24. Fire at packing establishment of Washington Butchers' Sons, 146-148 North Front Street; loss $30,000.
  • March 25. British bark Tulchen, while being towed from Kaighn's Point, N. J., to Girard Point, capsized and sunk in twenty-two feet of water at the mouth of the Schuylkill.
  • March 31. Fire and explosion at Belmont Oil Works, Twenty-fourth and Miffin Streets. Two men burned to death; loss, $80,000.
  • April 6. Fire broke out in factory building, northeast corner of Race and Crown (Lawrence) Streets, extended to the building northside of Race Street; loss, $21,000.
  • May 15. The directories of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company announced that they had leased for a period of 990 years the North Pennsylvania Railroad to Bethlehem, with its connection, and the Bound Brook Railroad to New York, lease to date from May 1, 1879.
  • June 11. Lightning struck the oil canning shed of LaComte & Perkins, at Point Breeze, setting it in fire. The flames were communicated to several vessels moored at the wharves; loss, over $150,000.
  • June 14. Annual regatta of the Schuylkill Navy. Course from below the Falls Bridge to Rockland, one and a half miles straight away. Prizes as follows: Four-oared shells, won by Crescent Club, 9.30; two-oared shells, Philadelphia Club, 10.46; double shells, Quaker City, 10.48; four-oared gigs, College Club, 10.35; single shells, Pennsylvania Club, 10.47.
  • Steamer Wanderer, for New Orleans and Havana Line, launched from shipyard of Birely, Hillman and Streaker, foot of Montgomery Avenue.
  • June 20. Fire at factory building, Ridge Avenue below Master, G. W. Smith, furniture finishers; loss, $20,000.
  • June 24. Inter-collegiate regatta between the crews of Columbia and Princeton colleges and University of Pennsylvania, on the Schuylkill River. National Course, Falls bridge to Rockland, one and a half miles. Won by the University crew in 9.23.
  • June 27. Fire at southeast corner of Seventh and Cherry Streets, doing great damage to Hasting's gold leaf establishment, Stern's printing office, etc.; loss $20,000.
  • Steam boiler exploded in the planing mill of Alphas Wilt & Sons, Front Street, below Brown. Four persons killed and several injured.
  • July 17. fires at the stores 7-9 South Water Street; loss, $30,000.
  • July 31. Seventeenth and Nineteenth Streets Passenger Railway formally opened as a portion of the Continental Passenger Railway formally opened as a portion of the Continental Passenger Railway.
  • August 14. An excursion train on the Philadelphia and Atlantic (Narrow gauge) Railroad, came into collision with a freight train near Clementon; five persons killed and several injured.
  • August 28 and 29. International Cricket match at the Young American grounds at Stenton, between the Hamilton Club, of Hamilton, Canada, and the Young America Club, of Philadelphia. Score: Young America, first innings, 28; second innings, 50; total, 78. Hamilton, first innings, 74; second innings, 5; total, 79 with ten wickets to spare.
  • October 23. Match game of cricket between the Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire players of Draft's English professional team, reinforced by English players. Score: Nottinghamshire, first innings, 148.
  • September 25, 26, and 27. International cricket match at the grounds of the Germantown Cricket Club, near Wayne Station, between the Gentlemen of Ireland and a picked team of Philadelphia. Score: Irish Gentlemen, first inning, 58; second inning, 82; total, 140. Philadelphia, first and only inning, 149.
  • September 28. Return game between the Irish and Philadelphia Cricketers. One inning, Ireland 122; Philadelphia, 108.
  • September 30. Cricket match between the Irish twelve and fifteen of the Merion Club on the grounds at Ardmore, Score: Ireland, first inning, 138; second, 170; total, 308. Merion, first inning, 81; second, 130; total, 211.
  • Keystone wool and yarn Mill, Callowhill Street above twenty-fifth, destroyed by fire; loss $28,000.
  • October 2. Boat race on the Schuylkill between six-oared barges of Fairmount and Neptune Clubs. Course from Chestnut street bridge to the red buoy at Gibson's Point, three miles. Won by Fairmount in 19 minutes, 29 seconds.
  • October 4. Annual fall regatta of the Schuylkill Navy, National course, Schuylkill River. Prize for a single sculls won by W. B. Cobb, Pennsylvania Club, 11.2; double sculls, Vesper Club (no opponents); four-oared gigs, Malta, 9.531/4; senior singles, C.V. Grant, Philadelphia Club, 10.53; eight-oared shells, Undine, 8.55.
  • October 5. Cornerstone laid of new Roman Catholic Church of the Gesu, to replace church of the Holy family, Eighteenth and Stiles Streets.
  • First through train from Philadelphia to New York run from the Reading Railroad depot, Ninth and green streets, via the Bound brook railroad.
  • October 10, 11, and 13. International cricket match at Germantown Cricket grounds, Nicetown, between Daft's English professional eleven and fifteen selected amateurs. Score: English, first inning 149; second, 133; total, 282. Philadelphia, first inning, 70; second, 67; total, 137.
  • October 12. Cornerstone laid of new building of the German Evangelical Reformed Bethlehem Church, Blair and Norris Streets.
  • October 17. Cricket math between Draft's All-English professional eleven and Young America eleven at Stenton. Young America, first inning, 64; second, 47; total, 111. Draft, first and only inning, 171; second, 22 (when the game was stopped with the first wicket down); total, 170. Yorkshire, first inning, 51 second, 118; total, 169.
  • November 1. Fire at the grain storage house of Brooke & Harper, 1729-33 Market Street; loss $50,000.
  • December 4. The controlling interest in the Union Passenger Railway company, 12,600 shares, purchased by a combination, principally composed of officers and stockholders of the Continental passenger Railway Company, at $100.00 a share, (this was the nucleus to the formation of combinations, eventually forming the Philadelphia rapid Transit Company).
  • ridge Avenue Passenger Railway Company commenced to sell five tickets for the conveyance of passengers for 25 cents. Single fares remained at 6 cents.
  • December 8. Work commenced on dismantling and taking down the Coliseum Building, corner Broad and Locust Streets (site of Hotel Walton) in order to remove the same to Boston
  • December 8. Work commenced on dismantling and taking down the coliseum Building, corner Broad and Locust Streets (site of Hotel Walton) in order to remove the same to Boston.
  • December 16. Grand public reception of general U.S. grant upon his return to Philadelphia and the conclusion of his journey around the world. military and civic procession which required four hours and 40 minutes to pass a given point. It was 6-1/2 miles in length, and was estimated to have been participated in by 40,000 persons and seen by 350,000 spectators.
  • December 25. George Sheppard badly injured in Shackamaxon Street above Richmond, by oil of vitriol being thrown on him, as was alleged, by George Wood.

< 1878 1880 >

Excerpted from "Happenings in ye Olde Philadelphia 1680-1900" by Rudolph J. Walther, 1925, Walther Printing House, Philadelphia, PA

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