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1884 1886

Philadelphia Timeline, 1885


  • January 8. New monastery of Redemptorist Fathers attached to Roman Catholic Church of St. Boniface, Diamond St., Norris Square, dedicated.
  • January 26. Cable passenger railway of the Philadelphia Traction Company went into operation on Columbia Ave. and Master St.
  • January 29. Fire in livery stable of Charles S. Smith and John D. Cooper, 716, 718 and 720 Marshall St., with injury to adjoining buildings. Thirty-four horses burned to death, a large number of carriages and sleighs destroyed, with other property. Estimated loss, $35,000.
  • February 12. Insane department of Philadelphia Almshouse, Blockley, totally destroyed by fire; twenty-four lives lost.
  • February 16. High-tide in the Delaware River. Delaware Ave. was flooded from Callowhill to Chestnut St. The water in some places entering first floor of stores. Kaighn's Point ferry-house flooded and a portion of Eighth Ward submerged. Freshet on the Schuylkill, water 6 feet above ordinary stages.
  • February 19. Fire on Chestnut St. east of Second, north side, which destroyed or greatly damaged adjoining properties.
  • February 21. Fire at 504 and 506 Market St., occupied by Ruth, Bennett & Co., china and glassware; S. A. Rudolph, paper; Joseph I. Meaney, boots and shoes, with some damage to adjoining buildings. Loss, estimated, $100,000.
  • March 29. Parish building of Trinity P. E. Church, Forty-second St. and Baltimore Ave., dedicated.
  • April 2. John L. Sullivan and Dominick McCaffrey, professional pugilists, who had arranged for a contest at Industrial Hall, arrested for violating the laws in reference to prize-fights, and bound over each in $5,000 to answer for conspiracy, and in $5,000 to keep the peace.
  • April 22. Repair-shops of Pullman palace Car Company, Forty-first St. and Pennsylvania R. R., burned. Loss, $150,000.
  • April 26. Malt-house of Continental Brewing Company, Twenty-first St. and Washington Ave., burned. Loss, $50,000.
  • May 9. Fire at station and stables of Knickerbocker Ice Company, Noble St. and Delaware Ave., nine horses and mules burned. Loss, $25,000.
  • May 10. Cornerstone laid of new St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church, at Seventh St. and Montgomery Ave.
  • May 12. Fire at planning-mill of A. H. Higham & Sons., Nos. 1043-1053 East Cumberland St. Loss, $12,000.
  • May 24. Services in new P. E. Church of the Annunciation, Twelfth and Diamond Sts.
  • Cornerstone laid of Roman Catholic convent of Immaculate Heart of Mary, adjoining St. Teresa's Church, Broad and Catharine Sts.
  • Closing services at P. E. Church of Evangelists, Catharine St. above Eighth, before tearing down the building.
  • May 28. Explosion of benzine and fire at the furniture-store and manufactory of Henry Vehmeyer, S. W. cor. Second and Market Sts., with damage to hat-stores of Henry Kayser and Evans & Betts, adjoining. One lady passing by in the street killed by the falling walls, and two persons injured. Loss, $60,000.
  • May 29. Shackamaxon Bank, cor. Frankford Road and Norris St., failed in consequence of the allowance and payment of heavy over-drafts upon the funds.
  • May 31. First appearance of the cicadas, usually called "Seventeen-year locusts," in Washington Square.
  • June 13. New cable of the Traction Company, on Columbia Ave. between Twenty-third St. and East Park, put into operation.
  • June 17. Lard-oil works of Washington Butcher's Sons, Moore St. above Sixth, totally destroyed by fire. Loss, $120,000.
  • June 19. Fire at Farmer's Western market-house, Twenty-first and Market Sts., used as a depot for the sale of Bradley's Chicago beef. Loss, $10,000.
  • Seventh intercollegiate boat-race for the Childs cup, between Cornell University, New York, and the University of Pennsylvania. Course, Shawmont, above Flat Rock, on the Schuylkill, 1-1/2 miles straightaway. Won by Cornell by a length and a third. Time, 8 m. 51 s.; Pennsylvania, 8 m. 54 s.
  • June 27. Annual regatta of the Schuylkill Navy course, 1-1/2 miles straightaway; 21 entries. Prizes: Junior single, Bachelor Club, 11 m. 50-3/4 s.; senior single, Pennsylvania; four-oared gigs, Pennsylvania, 10 m. 24-1/4 s.; pair-oared shells, West Philadelphia, 11 m. 32-1/4 s.; senior four-oared gigs, Pennsylvania, 10 m. 23-1/4 s.; senior four-oared shells, College, 9 m. 37-3/4 s.; double sculls, Pennsylvania, 10 m. 28-1/2 s.; eight-oared shells, Malta, 8 m. 54 s.
  • July 3. Mayor Smith signed the ordinance, which had previously passed Councils, authorizing the construction of the Baltimore and Philadelphia and the Schuylkill River East Side railroads within the city.
  • July 7. William H. Bumm, George W. Bumm and Samuel P. Milligan, late teller of Shackamaxon Bank, bound over on the charge of conspiracy to defraud the bank.
  • July 9. Eight-oared boat-race for the Sharpless challenge cup. National course, Schuylkill river, 1-1/2 miles; 5 entries. Won by Fairmount Rowing Association of Philadelphia, beating Columbia, of Washington, D. C., by two-thirds of a length. Time, 8 m. 32s.
  • July 12. East Montgomery Avenue M. E. Church, rebuilt, reopened.
  • July 14. Walls of boiler-house of Star Mill, Mascher and Jefferson Sts., fell in. One person killed; nine injured.
  • Ninety-sixth anniversary of destruction of the Bastile, celebrated by French societies and citizens at Renz Park.
  • July 18. Fire in operating-room of Western Union Telegraph Company, N. W. cor Tenth and Chestnut Sts., destroying all the wires there. Loss, $20,000.
  • July 23. News of the death of Gen. U. S. Grant, at Mount McGregor, N. Y., received at Philadelphia at 8.12 A. M. The State House bell was tolled sixty-three times, one stroke for each year of his age. Immediately flags were hoisted at half mast in all parts of the city. The Mayor's office was draped with mourning, and emblems of woe were displayed at public and private offices, stores, factories, dwellings and other buildings.
  • Cornerstone laid of the new building of Young Maennerchor Vocal Society, N. W. cor. Sixth and Vine Sts.
  • August 3. Heavy rains at intervals, with sharp lightning and thunder from 11.35 A. M. to 9:50 P.M. About 3.30 P.M. a tornado of great force crossed the river Delaware from Gloucester Point. Three large buildings in the Neck at the Pennsylvania salt-works were entirely prostrated, and other property in the neighborhood was damaged. The course of the wind was nearly north by east. The tornado crossed the Delaware to New Jersey. The steamboat Major Reybold, of the Salem Line, and the Peerless ferry-boat, of Gloucester line, were struck by it in the river, had all their upper works, pilot houses and cabins carried away, and the pilot of the Reybold was drowned. At Kaighn's Point the storm took the shore and pursued a northwardly course, by way of Front, Second and Third Sts., to Federal and Linden Sts., extending eastward to Fourth and Fifth Sts., and then upward to Cooper's Point where again crossing the Delaware, it struck the Port Richmond coal-wharves, at the foot of William St., passed to the north to the neighborhood of Harrowgate Lane and Kensington Ave., where its force was spent. In Camden large factory-buildings were thrown down or greatly damaged. The round-house of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company was totally demolished and locomotives damaged. Dwelling-houses, stores, etc., were unroofed or the walls blown in; trees in great numbers were thrown down; 400 buildings were damaged. In Kensington similar destruction took place. Houses were partially blown down, walls blown in and roofs taken off, with other damage; 150 buildings in this part of the city were damaged. The value of property destroyed was immense. In the city there were 3 lives lost and 38 persons injured; in Camden 4 were killed and 48 injured. In Camden the damage to real estate was estimated at $500,000, in Kensington, at $250,000. The value of personal property destroyed was impossible to compute. The course of the tornado was from 200 to 300 yards in width. In the afternoon there was a heavy flood in the Schuylkill. At the Falls the water, rushing down from the streets and descending to Ridge Ave. rose on the road 7 feet, carrying away small houses and fences, flooding cellars and the first stories of mills and buildings.
  • August 8. Day of funeral solemnities of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in New York observed with due solemnity throughout the country. The State House bell was tolled from 10 to 12 o'clock A.M. and bells of churches and public buildings. There was a general suspension of business throughout the city.
  • August 9. Fire at the Richmond paper-mill of Alexander Balfour, corner of Brabant and Tioga Sts. Loss, $22,000.
  • August 17. Explosion, supposed to be by dynamite, on the steamboat Samuel L. Felton, of the Wilmington Line, shortly after leaving Chestnut St. Wharf. About 175 passengers were on board. Eleven or twelve persons were injured, one of whom afterward died. Damage to the boat estimated at $4,000
  • September 14. Temple Theatre and Egyptian Musee, Old Masonic Hall building, Chestnut St. between Seventh and Eighth Sts., opened for the first time, with the comedy of "Sealed Instructions."
  • September 19. International cricket-match, between the "Gentlemen of England" and "Gentlemen of Philadelphia." Result: Philadelphia, 200, second inning, 178, total 378; Gentlemen of England, first inning, 147, second inning 122, total 269.
  • September 25 and 26. Second International Cricket game at Nicetown. Gentleman of England first inning, 293, second inning, 317, total 510; Gentlemen of Philadelphia, first inning, 147, second inning, 120, total 267.
  • September 29. Industrial Art School under control of the Board of Education, opened in Hollingsworth schoolhouse, Locus St. above Broad; 150 pupils.
  • October 8. Robert White attacked and killed, by the elephant Empress at winter-quarters of Forepaugh's circus and menagerie, Lehigh Ave. and Edgemont St.,
  • December 3. New hall of young Maennerchor Musical Society N.W. corner Sixth and Vine Sts. dedicated
  • New gymnasium of the University of Pennsylvania formally opened.
  • December 6. Consecration of new building of St. Luke's Lutheran Congregation, at Seventh St. and Montgomery Ave.
  • December 7. At the winter quarters of Forepaugh's menagerie, Lehigh Ave. and Edgemont St. the Nubian lion, Prince, escaped from his cage and attacked the elephant, Bolivar. He was disabled by a blow from the trunk of the latter, who finished by tramping upon the lion's body.
  • December 16. Fire in five-story building, 224 Carter's Alley below Exchange Place, occupied by Morrell & Bros., printers and bookbinders, Electric Motor Supply Company, Newman & Ergen, shirt manufacturers. Loss, $60,000.
  • December 24. Cornerstone laid of Girard Avenue Farmers' Market cor. Ninth St., and Girard Ave., 198 ft. on Girard Ave, by 194 ft. on Hutchinson St.

< 1884 1886 >

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

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