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1887 1889

Philadelphia Timeline, 1888


  • January 10. Cable cars of the Traction company began running on Seventh and Ninth Streets between Columbia Avenue and Mckean Street.
  • February 10. John Wanamaker bought the business stock of Hood, Bonbright & Co., wholesale drygoods merchants.
  • February 15. Roman Catholic Cemetery of the Most Holy Redeemer, Richmond Street below Orthodox, Twenty-fifth Ward, opened for use.
  • February 27. George M. Palmer, a baker residing at No. 504 Lehigh Avenue, convicted of causing the death of Louisa Drebel by adulterating cakes and buns with chromate of lead, sentenced to six months' imprisonment. For like adulterations, Frederick Schmidt, a baker residing at Vienna Street and Frankford Avenue, charged with a similar offense, sentenced to six mouths' imprisonment and a fine of $100.
  • March 11. Commencement of stormy season known as the blizzard. The morning was cloudy. Light rain commenced at 3 P. M. and very heavy rain at 10 P. M. At 11 P. M. the rain changed to snow, and the wind, steadily increasing in violence, soon blew a full gale. The 12th of March came in with heavy snowfall and a violent gale, the wind reaching 46 miles an hour and with frequent terrific squalls. Direction of the wind due North; temperature at 15 degrees. During the morning the temperature continued to fall and the wind to rise, but the fall of snow was checked. Owing to the high wind, which attained a velocity at times of 60 miles an hour, the loose snow was blown into enormous drifts. Streets and roads became impassable, all railroad trains were blocked, telegraphic communication was cut off, and a great amount of damage was done by the blowing down of trees and telegraph poles. Chimneys, roofs and other portions of buildings were also damaged in many parts of the city. At noon on the 12th the snow ceased, but the high wins continued all that day and the next. The greatest difficulty was experienced outside the city in getting communication in any way. The roads and railway-cuttings were drifted full of snow, through which neither carriages nor trains were able to proceed. Many trains were snowed in and either abandoned or lost in the drifts. The first train to reach the city from New York left the latter place on Monday at 6 A. M., and reached Philadelphia on Thursday at 5 P. M.; the first train from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh reached there on the 15th. There was no telegraphic communication in any direction except to Harrisburg through Norristown and Reading. The long-distance telephone to New York, however, acted admirably throughout the crisis. Business on the 12th was almost entirely suspended; the schools, courts and many places of amusement were closed. On the Delaware River and on the coast, especially at the Breakwater, the injury to shipping was very great, especially at the Breakwater, the injury to shipping was very great, over thirty vessels being sunk or stranded, and several of the seamen being drowned. On the 13th the blizzard continued, although traveling was to some extent renewed. High winds continued and the temperature was very low, ranging from 8 degrees minimum to 15 degrees maximum. The force of the wind showed a velocity of 47 miles an hour. The wind gradually subsided, and on the 14th the snow began to melt; but several days elapsed before the interrupted travel could be resumed, and the snow lay in sheltered places for several weeks. Delaware River by the upsetting of a boat, which Coroner's jury found was caused by the carelessness of Thomas O'Connor. The latter pleaded guilty June 29 to indictments for involuntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to three years' imprisonment.
  • May 23. Market Street National Bank, capitol $600,000, commenced business at No. 1017 Market Street. Six days walking match, go-as-you-please, commenced at Chestnut Street Rink; fifteen entries. First prize won by Burns, 485 miles.
  • June 18. Henry V. Lesley, late secretary of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company, arrested in Philadelphia, and James H. L. Wilson charged as confederate, arrested in Toronto, for the defalcation of $661,490 which occurred in June, 1886.
  • June 25. Fire at kindling wood factory of Longton & Crawford, No. 1112 S. Thirteenth Street with damage to John Stockdale public school-house, John A. Smith's coal yard and other adjoining property. Loss, $15,000. Annual regatta of the Schuylkill navy. National course, 1-1/2 miles straight away. Prizes: junior singles, Iona, 10am. 44-1/2s.; pairoared shells, Philadelphia, 9am. 47s.; junior four-oared gigs, Pennsylvania, 10am. 23s.; senior four-oared gigs, Iona, 8m. 56s.; senior singles, Pennsylvania, 10m.; 23s.; eight-oared shells, Vesper, 8m.
  • June 26. Norris Square M. E. Church, Mascher Street above Susquehanna Avenue, dedicated.
  • July 3. Cornerstone laid of German Lutheran Church of the Cross, Ninth Street and Lehigh Avenue.
  • July 5. New Chestnut Street National Bank opened at the N. W. corner Tenth and Chestnut Streets.
  • July 11. George M. Palmer, a baker residing at No. 504 Lehigh Avenue, held to bail by Corner Ashbridge to answer the charge of having poisoned four persons by adulteration of buns and cakes which he baked with chromate of lead (chrome yellow), used to give the articles a rich yellow color.
  • July 12. George M. Palmer and F. Schmidt, bakers, and George W. Millett, salesman, charged with poisonous adulteration of food with chromate of lead (chrome yellow), bound over to answer.
  • July 13. Explosion of two stills filled with petroleum at the oil works of the American Refining Company, Point Breeze, setting fire to three or four other stills and adjoining property. Several persons scaled by the hot oil. Loss, $10,000.
  • July 15. Fire at mill building corner Mascher and Putman Streets, occupied by William Shellenberger, hides and fats, Bakeman & Smith, card-cloth and carpets, and Gilpin & Martin, hosiery. Loss, $8,000.
  • July 16. Fire at mill building corner Mascher and Putman Streets, occupied by William Shellenberger, hides and fats, Bakeman & Smith, card-cloth and carpets, and Gilpin & Martin, hosiery. Loss, $8,000.
  • July 21. Fredrick Schmidt, a baker at baker at Vienna Street and Frankford Avenue, was by the verdict of a Corner's jury found guilty of having caused the death of Anna E. Helm by the use of poisonous matter (chromate of lead) in the preparation of buns and other breadstuffs which were eaten by the deceased.
  • July 23. A compressor of ammoniacal gas for an ice machine at the Bergner & Engel Brewry, Thirty-second and Thompson Streets, burned. The vapor was ignited and seriously burned nine men (two of whom afterward died) besides setting fire to the building.
  • July 27. Alfred Krumm, manufacturer of noodles, held to answer on a charge of adulterating them with chrome yellow (chromate of lead).
  • July 30. The yacht Minerva capsized opposite Kaighn's Point during a squall. Two persons drowned. The Colombian Bank, a State institution doing business on Chestnut Street below Fifth, failed and made an assignment. Capital, $200,000; liabilities stated to be $278,901.32; estimated assets, $278,-901.32; which were appraised at $95,159.25.
  • August 4. An electric car built by William Wharton, Jr., & Co., and run with the electric power and energy of storage batteries on the car was run from Gray's Ferry over the Spruce and Pine Street Passenger Railway to Dock and Walnut Streets with passengers, making two trips.
  • August 26. The bulkhead and about 70 feet of the wharf at the foot of Sansom Street fell into the Schuylkill River. It was used for storing cars of the Baltimore and Ohio R, but no cars were on it at the time of the accident. Loss, about $10,000.
  • September 5. Thirty-third annual fair of the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society opened at the grounds, Lehigh Avenue and Broad Street.
  • September 15. First day of the centennial celebration of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. Grand civic procession, showing the progress of a century in trades, manufactures and industries, also in education, with participation in the parade of societies, firemen, etc. There were floats and wagons with allegorical figures, machinery, persons at work, models, etc., and the procession required about seven hours to pass any point on the route. It was estimated that half a million people were spectators of the display.
  • October 16. Cornerstone laid of Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Haddington.
  • October 18. Bronze equestrian statue of General George Gordon Meade, by Alexander Milne Calder, unveiled in Fairmount Park with appropriate ceremonies, which included a parade of the First Brigade, N. G. P., Grand Army Posts, and others.April 3. Claus Speckels, of California, bought 10 acres of ground on the river Delaware, at Reed Street, for the purpose of erecting a new sugar refinery with buildings and machinery to cost $5,000,000. Ground broken May 27.
  • April 4. Broad Street Theater, owned by John S. Clarke, sold at auction to J. M. Fox, for $141,000.
  • April 6. Dinner to Dr. D. Hayes Agnew in honor of the fiftieth year of his graduation as a doctor of medicine from the University of Pennsylvania, given by the medical profession at the Academy of Music.
  • April 11. The pneumatic dynamite gun built by William Cramp & Sons for the Italian Government sent to Fort Lafayette, where it was tested under the direction of Lieutenant Zalinski.
  • April 17. Meeting of citizens at the Broad of Trade rooms to protest against the erection of the proposed elevated railroad by the Reading Railway Company between Twelfth and Market and Ninth and Green Streets.
  • April 19. Reading Railroad elevated terminal ordinance introduced into Select Councils and referred to the Railroad Committee.
  • April 28. Launch of the gunboat Yorktown and the dynamite cruiser Vesuvius from Cramp's shipyard, Kensington. Secretary Whitney and a number of members of Congress and other distinguished guests attended the launching.
  • May 1. The "State in Schuylkill" the Schuylkill Fishing Company established in 1732, removed its "Castle" from the banks of the Schuylkill below Gray's Ferry to the banks of the Delaware, near Andalusia. The new crematory, at E. Washington lane and Stenton Avenue, Germantown, used for the first time for the cremation of the body of Damon Y. Kilgore.
  • May 7. The first year of the system of profit sharing adopted by John Wanamaker resulted in the distribution of $109,439.68 to the employees, in addition to their usual salaries.
  • May 15. St. Agnes' Hospital, at Broad and Mifflin Streets, dedicated and formally opened.
  • May 21. New Market Street National Bank opened for inspection; ready for business May 24.
  • May 30. New passenger depot of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at Twenty-Fourth and Chestnut Streets, formally opened.
  • June 1. New liquor licenses went into effect. Number of saloons licensed, 1347; number licensed in 1887, 5773.
  • June 14. New system of attaching the cars of the Fairmount branch of the Philadelphia Traction Company to the cable motor cars at Franklin and Wallace went into effect.
  • June 16. A new steamer, the Elizabeth Monroe Smith, the gift of Mr. F. Smith to the Sanitarium Association opened its twelfth season at Red Bank, N.J.
  • July 19. Industrial school and home of St. Frances de Sales, founded at Eddington and maintained by the Misses Drexel, opened with religious ceremonies by Archbishop Ryan.
  • July 24. The " Penny Savings Bank" organized by members of the Bethany Presbyterian Church. Opened for business August 1.
  • July 31. The boiler of a locomotive of the Reading Railroad Co., exploded while standing at Columbia Avenue station, killing Andrew Pond, the engineer, and Peter Graklow, the fireman.
  • August 4. Steamship Corona, built for the Oregon Steamship Company, launched from the yards of Neafie & Levy. Sailed for San Francisco, October 27.
  • August 10. Eight-cent exchanges inaugurated on the Traction Company's system.
  • August 21. A tornado struck the Delaware River below Fort Delaware doing considerable damage to shipping. The same afternoon a heavy rainstorm passed over this city, the total precipitation being nearly two inches. Considerable damage done to sewers, etc.
  • September 13. A row boat containing two men and two women swept over Flat Rock dam, on the Schuylkill. Frank Carver and Mrs. Minnie Tuful drowned.
  • September 18. Managers of the House of refuge completed the purchase of 385 acres of ground at Glen Mills, Delaware Co., for a new building and farm for the boys ' department.
  • September 26. Tug W. W. Graham capsized and sunk in the Delaware off Edgemoor; the engineer, Seth M. Long, drowned. The Graham was successfully raised and towed into port.
  • October 6. United States cruiser Baltimore launched at Cramps' Shipyard in the presence of the Secretary of the Navy, and a distinguished party from Washington.
  • October 18. Northeastern Elevated Railroad bill passed by select Councils.
  • October 20. John D. Criuce fatally burned by an explosion of "flash powder" at Wiley & Wallace's drug establishment.
  • December 3. Keystone Bank Building opened for business.
  • December 6. Mary J. Drexel Home and Philadelphia Mother-House of Deconesses, attached to the German Hospital, handed over to the Lutheran Church.
  • December 17. New building of the Western Saving Fund occupied.

< 1887 1889 >

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

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