Header:Philadelphia History

Incorporated District, Boroughs, and Townships in the County of Philadelphia, 1854

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Penn District, that portion of the township of Penn which lay north of the north boundary-line of Spring Garden between Delaware, Sixth Street and the River Schuylkill and between a line parallel with Hickory Lane (formerly Coates Street, now Fairmont Avenue), west of Sixth Street as fare as Broad Street, and then due west to the Schuylkill, and along the same to a line parallel with, and at a distance of one hundred feet north of Susquehanna Avenue, and thence to the middle of the sixth Street. It was created a district by Act of February 26, 1844, as " the Commissioners and Inhabitants of the district of Penn".


Penn Township was formed from the western portion of the township of the Northeastern Liberties by order of the Court of the Quarter Sessions in the year 1807. It was north of Vine Street, bounded on the east by Sixth Street to the intersection of the road to Germantown; thence by the same north by west to the foot of Logan's Hill; southwest to the township line road; along the same to a point a short distance above Manheim Lane; then over in a southwest direction to the Schuylkill, and down the same to Vine Street. Its greatest length was four miles; its greatest width three miles; area, 7680 acres. The districts of Spring Garden and Penn were created out of this township, and it included portions of Rising Sun and Nicetown and Fort St. Davids, afterward called Falls Village. It was traversed in a northwestern direction by the Ridge Avenue, from Nine and Vine Streets, and northeastwardly from the Schulykill, between Fairmount and Lemon Hill, by Farmers' Lane, which ran into the Germantown Road, and by Nicetown Lane, from the Ridge Road below the Falls, and over to Nicetown, Germantown and beyond.


Port Richmond, originally the name of a tract of land in the township of Northern Liberties, adjoining the Delaware north of Ball Town and south of Point-No-Point. It was incorporated as a district on February 27, 1847. It extended along the Delaware River to a point some distance northwest of the upper end of Petty's Island; then northwest nearly to the point where Frankford Creek makes its most southerly bend; thence southerly bend; thence southwest to Westmoreland Street; northwest along the same to Emerald Street; southwest along the latter to a lane running from Frankford Turnpike to Nicetown Lane; along Frankford Turnpike to the north boundary of Kensington, and down the same to Gunners' Run, and along that stream to the Delaware River. The area was 1163 acres.


Southwark was the oldest district in the county of Philadelphia. It began to grow much earlier than the northern portions of the county beyond the city limits. In this increase the section was very much aided by the Swedish settlements of Wicaco and Moyamensing. This region was the first which required the attention of the General Assembly. By agreement the inhabitants had continued some of the principal streets of the city running north and south through their territory. In regard to the cross streets there was not always as much unanimity, and for the want of such regulations the inhabitants applied to the Assembly by petition. On May 14,1762, an Act was passed to create a municipality in the southern suburbs to be called the district of Southwark. The bounds commenced on Cedar (South) Street and the River Delaware, and proceeded thence west to Passyunk Road; along the latter to Moyamensing Road; thence by Keeler's Lane to Greenwich Road; thence to River Delaware, and along the several courses of the same to the place of beginning. The greatest dimensions were 1 1/4 miles in length by 1 1/4 miles in breath; area 760 acres. The name was adopted, partly, in allusion to the situation of the district south of the city of Philadelphia, but it was also adopted from the name of a borough in the county of Surrey, England, immediately opposite the city of London.


Spring Garden appears in Varie's map of 1796 as a small settlement between Vine Street and Buttonwood Lane and a point on a line with Seventh Street, and extending as far west as Ridge Road. There was a street (now known as Franklin Street) which ran north from Vine Street across Callowhill, and stopped opposite a house half-way between Callowhill, and Buttonwood Lane. The Street now known as Eighth Street (then called Garden Street) ran through the centre of the district, and the street now called Darien, formally Garden Street (then called Spring Street) ran from Vine to Buttonwood. The district was incorporated March 22, 1813, as "the Commissioners and Inhabitants of the district of Spring Garden." The original boundaries were Vine Street on the south; the middle of Hickory Lane (afterwards Coates Street, now Fairmount Avenue) on the north; Broad Street on; the west, and the middle of Sixth Street on; the east. On March 21, 1827, the district was enlarged by adding ;that part of Penn Township beginning at the middle of Sixth Street to a point 210 feet north of the north side of Popular Lane; thence northwest, parallel to the lane, at a distance of 200 feet from the latter, to the middle of Broad Street, thence parallel with Vine Street to the River Schuylkill. The meaning o this was, that whilst the upper boundary of the district took a course from Sixth Street west by north to Broad Street, the line beyond the latter ran due east and west to the Schuylkill. It extended by the course of that river to Vine Street, and along the latter to Broad, where it met the old district line. By this addition the size of Spring Garden was more than doubled. At the time of consolidation the area of the district was estimated to be 1100 acres.


Tacony, Toaconing or Toaconick, a small township situate in the bend between the River Delaware, Wissinoming Creek on the northeast and Frankford Creek and Little Tacony Creek on the south and west. It lay east of the town of Frankford, and at an early date was incorporated in Oxford Township.


West Philadelphia, in the township of Blockley and west of the Schuylkill River, was created a borough on February 17, 1844, and embraced Hamilton and Mantua villages and the ground between. On April 3, 1853, its title was changed to the district of West Philadelphia and its boundaries considerably enlarged.


White Hall, northwest of Bridesburg, extending from the United States Arsenal (Frankford Arsenal) westward, contained in the bend made by Frankford Creek and Little Tacony, and adjourning Frankford. It was situate in the old township of Tacony and the later township of the Northern Liberties. It was incorporated into a borough on April 9, 1849.

See also: Petty's Island