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1885 1887

Philadelphia Timeline, 1886


  • January 10. Tugboat James Kelly caught fire off mouth of Pennypack Creek. Loss, $5,000. Fire consumed the whole block of buildings between Emerald and Letterly, Taylor and Coral Sts., Thirty-first ward.
  • January 13. Tug William G. Boulton, Capt., Peterson, sunk by ice on Fourteen-Feet Bank lightship, Delaware River.
  • January 16. A majority of the stock in the People's Passenger Railway (Callowhill Street) Company, which was the lessee of the Fourth and Eighth, Green and Coates, Girard Avenue and Norris and Susquehanna roads, sold to a syndicate composed principally of stockholders of the Lombard and South Streets, P. R. W. Company, and reorganized by the latter.
  • January 20. Fire and explosion at the oil and lamp-fixture establishment of R. J. Allen, Son & Co., 115 Arch Street. The flames spread to premises of King, Son & Co. and the Riverside Oil Company, Nos. 113, 117 and 119. One person was killed by the explosion. Loss, $50,000.
  • January 25. Tenth National Bank (new) cor. Columbia Ave. and Camac St. (below Broad), opened for business.
  • January 26. Great fire on Arch St. west of Seventh, which commenced in the five-story Morris building, Nos. 715, 717 and 719, occupied by Monroe Brothers & Co., shoe-dealers, Lehman & Bolton, lithographers. William H. Butler, lithographer. The Crosscup & West Engraving Company extending on the west to the building formerly occupied by the Fourth National Bank and tax receiver's office, used by S. May, millinery straw-goods, Julius Gerstler, artificial flowers and feathers, Schoedler & Hilery, kid glove importers, and Weaver Electric Mail-Box Company on the east to the St. Cloud Hotel, kept by G. K. & G. H. Mullen, the upper stories of which were burned and all the furniture and contents damaged by fire and water; on the north dwelling-houses on Winfield place were overwhelmed by falling walls and partially burned. The flames crossed to the south side of Arch St. and burned the upper stories of No. 712, Fred. Gutekunst, photographer, No. 714, Fahy & Co., furs, No. 716, p. P. C. Fulweiler, tobacco and cigars, No. 718, George S. Harris, printing, 720, Gillender & Son, glassware, No. 722, Hunter & Brother, laces, Nos. 724-726 Custer & Son, millinery, with injury to adjoining properties on the west. Total loss, estimated, $500,000.
  • February 9. New building of First Unitarian Church, Chestnut St. east of Twenty-second, dedicated.
  • February 14. Brick dwelling-house No. 1225 Lawrence St. fell to the ground and totally destroyed; eleven persons in it at the time injured and bruised by the falling walls, joists and floors.
  • February 16. Fire at Nos. 613 and 615 Cherry St. which also damaged Nos. 611 and 617. Loss, $28,000.
  • March 3. Fire at the stable of People's Passenger R. W. Company, at Eight and Dauphin Sts. Loss, $5,000. It contained 128 horses, which were rescued.
  • March 20. Steam ferry-boat Cooper's Point, owned by the Camden and Atlantic R. R. Company, burned at her dock, Camden, and passenger-cars near by damaged. Loss, $24,000. Daniel Coyle, electrical engineer in employ of the Northern Electric Light Company, instantly killed at No. 1116 N. Second St. while readjusting a light, by the full current of electricity being turned on.
  • March 27. Hand type-setting contest at Dime Museum, Ninth and Arch Sts., which continued for 11 days and 3 hours. First prize won by Alexander Duguid, for the Cincinnati Enquirer, total, 69,200-1/4 ems. Other contestants were Joseph McCann, New York Herald, 68,907-1/2; W. C. Barnes, New York World, 655,714-1/4; Thomas Levy, Chicago Herald, 61,299-1/4; Peter Thienes, Philadelphia Times, 59,498; J. A. Washington, Philadelphia Inquirer, 53,289-1/2; James J. Nolan, Philadelphia North American, 52,575-1/2; W. A. Crane, Philadelphia Evening News, 447,434-1/4.
  • April 2. The traction company withdrew the night cars running on the Richmond, Columbia Ave., Seventeenth and Nineteenth Sts., and Chestnut and Walnut Sts. branches.
  • April 8. Fire at the Academy of Fine Arts, Broad and Cherry Sts. Forty paintings burned, among them St. Sebastian, by Murillo. Loss to the academy and artists, estimated, $70,000.
  • April 14. New line of night-cars commenced, on the Hestonville, Mantua and Fairmount (Arch St.) Railway from Second and Arch Sts. to Forty-third St. and Lancaster Ave. Night-cars resumed running on the railways formerly furnished, with that service by the traction company.
  • April 18. St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Seventh St. And Montgomery Ave., consecrated. New building of Second Reformed Presbyterian Church, Seventeenth St. below Race, formally opened.
  • April 21. Iron steamboat Newburgh, intended for passenger service on the North River, launched from the shipyard of Neafie & Levy, Kensington. Length, 245 feet; beam, 43 feet; depth of hold, 15 feet; engines, 1100 horse-power; burden, 1000 tons.
  • April 23. Spinning-mill of J. Meadowcraft & Sons, Emerald and Sergeant Sts., burned. Loss, $29,000.
  • May 3. East Baptist Church, Hanover St. below Thompson, dedicated.
  • May 6. New Northwestern National Bank opened for business at No. 1812 Girard Ave.
  • May 8. Steamboat John S. Ide, of Bridgeton and Philadelphia Line, sank at the mouth of Cohansey Creek.
  • May 9. St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Fourth St. And Willing's Alley, remodeled, rebuilt and improved, formally re-opened.
  • May 11. The first train, carrying the president and other officers of the Baltimore to Ohio Railroad, passed over the railroad from Baltimore to the western abutment of the new bridge, below Gray's Ferry.
  • May 12. The Hayes Mechanics' Home, established under the will of George Hayes, who died in 1857, was formally opened on Belmont Ave. Near Christ Church Hospital.
  • May 24. Fire at paint and chemical works of Harrison Bros. & Co., Gary's Ferry Road. Loss, $60,000.
  • June 6. Basement of St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church, Broad and Butler Sts., dedicated.
  • June 10. Formal opening of the new grounds of Belmont Cricket Club, at Forty-ninth St. Station, Pennsylvania R. R. Fire at the J. & P. Baltz brewery, Thompson St. above Thirty-first. Loss, $5,000.
  • June 11. Cornerstone laid of the parish building of St. Barnabas Protestant Episcopal Church, Third and Dauphin Sts.
  • June 21 Fire at George Smith's scroll and carpenter mill, Philadelphia St. between York and Dauphin. Loss, $10,000.
  • June 22. The four-oared shell of the College Club of the University of Pennsylvania rowed over the course on the Schuylkill River, and won the Childs cup, there being no competitors.
  • June 24. Cornerstone laid of the new house of the Bicycle Club, at Twenty-sixth and Perot Sts.
  • June 25. Iron steamship El Monte, built for the Morgan Line, between New York and New Orleans, launched from the yard of Cramps' Shipbuilding Company. Length, 338 feet; beam, 42 feet 8 inches; depth of hold, 31 feet 8 inches; carrying capacity, 9,000 bales of cotton; engines, 2500 horse-power.
  • June 26. Annual regatta of the Schuylkill navy, National course, 1-1/2 miles straightaway. Twenty entries. Prizes: Junior singles, Pennsylvania Club, 11m. 28-1/2s.; senior singles, Malta, 11m 57-1/2s.; junior four-oared gigs, Iona, 10 m. 1-1/2s.; double sculls, 10 m. 32-1/2s.; four-oared shells, Undine, 9m. 11-1/2s.; senior gigs, Iona, 9m. 21s.; pair-oared shells, Undine, 10m. 13s.; eight-oared shells, Malta, 8m. 11-1/2s.; being 43-1/2s. faster than the best record heretofore made, that by the Dauntless in 1880. Commodore's prize, single paper shell, to the Malta Club, for the most entries, crews coming in not more than 40s. behind the winning boat.
  • June 28. Fire at warehouse and factory, Northeast cor. Oxford and Randolph Sts., occupied by C. W. Hall, chair manufacturer, and B. F. Richardson, furniture manufacturer. Loss, $11,500.
  • June 30. Defalcation discovered in the accounts of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company, amounting to $652,200.60; of this sum, $615,260 was an over issue of bonds of the company. J. L. Wilson, treasurer and secretary, and Henry V. Lesley, charged with being the guilty parties, absconded.
  • July 1. New Produce National Bank opened for business at No. 104 Chestnut St. The Casino, formally Lauber's Garden, Broad St. Above Columbia Ave., opened for the production of light operas with the "Crimson Scarf," by Legroix, and the "Cantrabandista," by Sir Arthur Sullivan.
  • July 5. Fairmount Park lighted with electric light for the first time, ten double-arc lights being placed on the Lemon Hill Observatory, 225 feet above the ground.
  • July 7. Ground broken for the new Park Avenue M. E. Church, at Park Ave. snd Norris St. New bridge of the East Side Schuylkill (B. and O.) R. R. Company across the Schuylkill at Gray's Ferry finished and put in use.
  • July 10. Cornerstone laid of new building of East Montgomery Ave. M. E. Church, Montgomery Ave. and Frankford Road.
  • July 13. Fire at packing-box factory and saw-mill of Tunis Manufacturing Company, Otsego and Moore Sts. Loss, $10,000. Eight-oared boat-race for the Childs Challenge cup, on the National course, Schuylkill River, 1-1/2 miles. Two entries. Won by the Malta Boat Club by two Lengths; time 8m. 6-1/2s.
  • July 19. Southwestern National Bank (new) opened for business, on Broad St. above South.
  • July 23. Southern section of Long Beach R. R. to Beach Haven, N.J., formally opened by Pennsylvania R. R. Company.
  • July 31. Samuel R. Shaw was struck by a stone while on a boat near Pine St. Wharf, Delaware River, knocked overboard and drowned. John, Timothy and Richard McLaughlin, George Flynn and Thomas, all boys, were held to answer and John Hillard as accessory
  • August 2. Swimming match for the championship of America, in on the Delaware River, between Dennis F. Butler, American champion, and W.B. Johnson, champion of England. Course, from off Cooper's Point to Ridgeway Park, 1 mile. Won by Butler in 15m 45s.
  • August 5. Second champion swimming-race on Delaware River between Butler and Johnson; 3 miles. Won by Butler in 45m.
  • August 7. Fire at shoe factory of John Mundell & Son, cor. Thirteenth and Cherry Sts. Loss $10,000.
  • August 14. Third and last swimming match on Delaware for championship of America between Butler and Johnson. Won by Butler. Course 5 miles; time 1h. 12m. 55s. New Columbia Theatre opened in rink building, formerly Ridge Avenue P. R. W. depot, N.E. cor. Twenty-third St. and Columbia Ave.
  • August 16. Baltimore and Ohio R. R. Company open depots for reception of freight for transmission to all points at Pier 35-1/2 N., at Brown St.; Pier 24 S., foot of Lombard St., and Piers 62 and 63 S., at Dickinson St., on the Delaware river.
  • August 28. Steamship Cherokee launched from the shipyard of William Cramp & Sons, built for William P. Clyde & Co. Length, 290 feet; beam, 43 feet; depth, 29 feet; measurement, 2500 tons.
  • August 29. Cornerstone laid of Cayuga Presbyterian Chapel, Sixteenth St. below Cayuga.
  • September 8. The assessors of the different wards made returns of the number of voters in the election divisions of the city as 229,092 an increase of 8,510 over last year.
  • September 16. First regular passenger-train over the Schuylkill River East Side (B. and O.) R. R. left station Twenty-third and Chestnut Sts., for Baltimore.
  • September 17. Wholesale grocery store and warehouse of Thompson Fry & Co., No. 131 Market St., destroyed by fire. Confectionery manufactory and store of Knight & Horebach, adjoining, wool-house of Coates Brothers and hardware stock of Robers, Duer & Miller, damaged by fire. Loss, $100,000. Fire at the bonded Warehouse of Fitzpatrick & Pemberton, at Front and Lombard Sts.; Section A, at the Corner of Lombard St., entirely destroyed. Loss, estimated, $50,000.
  • September 18. Ground broken for the new Third Regiment Armory, east side Broad St. above Wharton.
  • September 21. Fire at No. 25 N. Seventh St., occupied by Buchanan Smedley & Bromley, dealers in photographic materials, Davis Brothers, printers, D. W. Odiorne, umbrella materials, and Enterprise dining-rooms. Loss $25,000.
  • September 23. First international cricket match, at Nicetown Park, between Gentlemen of England, and Gentlemen of Philadelphia. Score, Philadelphia, first inning, 168; second inning, 70 total, 238, England, first and only inning, 323.
  • September 24, New temple of the Jewish congregation, Adath Jeshurun, Seventh St. above Columbia Ave., consecrated.
  • September 25. Cornerstone laid of the new building of Park Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, cor. Park Ave. and Norris St. Iron Steamship Seminole launched from the yard of William Cramp & Sons, ship and engine builders; vessel built for William P. Clyde & Co. Length, 290 feet; beam, 43 feet; depth, 29 feet, measurement, 2500 tons.
  • September 28. Planning and sash-mill of Gotlieb Hoersch, American St. above York, burned. Loss $16,000.
  • September 30. Windsor Theatre, Vine St. below Eighth, opened for the first time by Mahn's opera Company, with "Olivette."
  • October 3. Fire at the terra-cotta works of Harvey, Moland & Co., Seventh and York Sts. Loss $27,5000.
  • October 4. New Fourth Street National Bank, capital $1,500,000 commenced business on the east side of Fourth St. below Chestnut. Second international cricket match at Nicetown Park, between Gentlemen of England and Gentlemen of Philadelphia. Score: Philadelphia, first inning, 128; second inning, 146, total, 274. England, first inning, 235; second inning, 40 for four wickets, total, 275.
  • October 6. Fire in the finishing department of the shovel-works of T. Rowland's Sons, on Tacony Creek. Loss $20,000.
  • October 9. Cornerstone laid of Presbyterian Church of the Evangel, Eightieth and Tasker Sts.
  • October 10. New building of Temple Baptist Church, Twenty-second and Tioga Sts., dedicated. Cable-cars commenced running on the Columbia Ave. branch of the Union Passenger Railway.
  • October 24. Fifth Reformed Church (Dutch Reformed), Otis St. near Cedar, dedicated.
  • October 25. Bronze statue of Schiller by Henry Manger, sculptor, formally unveiled in West Fairmont Park, near Horticultural Hall.
  • October 30. New Girard Avenue Farmers' market-house, Girard Ave. and Ninth St., opened for business.
  • November 1. New buildings of the Second National Bank of Frankford, Main St. below Unity, opened for business.
  • November 10. Fire at John Brombly & Sons' carpet-mills, Front and Jasper Sts. Loss, $10,000. Fire at Nos. 22, 24, 26, and 28 N. Front St. occupied by J. M. Sharpless & Co., and others. Loss, $65,000.
  • November 11. Explosion and fire at cigar-box factory of Henry H. Sheip & Co., Randolph St. above Columbia Ave. One woman killed; fourteen persons burned and injured. Cornerstone laid on grounds of German Hospital of the Mary J. Drexel Home, for old men and women, Mother House for Deaconesses and Nurse-training School, the gift of John D. Lankenau.
  • November 25. Fire at furniture factory of John D. Raggio, Fourth and Reed Sts. Loss $75,000.
  • November 28. New building of Beacon Presbyterian Church, Cumberland and Cedar Sts., dedicated.
  • December 3. Fire at factory-building, Callowhill St. above Twelfth, occupied by Philadelphia Drop Forge Company and F. A. Wheeler & Co., straw-board linings. Loss $10,500..
  • December 4. Old Post-office building, Chestnut above Fourth, sold at auction to A. J. Drexel for 413,000.
  • December 11. Steamship Herman Winters, for the Metropolitan Steamship Company of New York, launched from the shipyard of William Cramp & Sons. Length, 286 feet, breadth of beam, 41-1/2 feet; depth of hold, 29 feet; burden, 2500 tons.
  • December 15. New tunnel of the Baltimore and Ohio R.R. on Twenty-fifth St. from Callowhill St. to the Reading Railroad, opened for the passage of freight trains.
  • December 16. Fire in mill-building at Coral and Dreer Sts., occupied by H. Davenport & Co. and Davenport & Hepworth, manufacturers of curtains and upholstery goods. Loss, $19,000.
  • December 17. Dye-house of J. G. Haley, Gorgas Lane, Roxboro, burned. Loss, $20,000.
  • December 20. A portion of Pier No. 54 S. Wharves, occupied by the Pennsylvania R.R. Company and the American and Red Star Steamship Lines, gave way, and sank into the Delaware, carrying down merchandise, etc. Loss, $50,000.
  • December 21. No. 711 Market St., occupied by Kneedler, Patterson & Co., drygoods, and John M. Maris & Co., druggists' supplies, destroyed by fire. Loss, $150,000.
  • December 25. Seventy-two hours' walking-match, go-as-you-please at the Elite Rink, Twenty-third and Chestnut Sts., closed. Won by Strokel, 386 miles 3 laps, being 14 miles 3 laps beyond any competitor.
  • December 27. Temple Theater and Egyptian Musee, old Masonic Hall building, under management of George C. Brotherton, totally destroyed by fire, together with the stores and salesrooms, in the first story, of Fairbanks & Co., scale-manufacturers, Remington Typewriter Co. and the Niles Tool Company. Losses also by Hubbard Bros., publishers and paper-manufacturers, 723 Chestnut St., and at the Washington Hotel, with partial damage to adjoining property. Loss estimated at $450,00. Two firemen killed and one injured by the falling walls.
  • December 31. Fire in spinning-room of Roxborough cotton and woolen-mill of J. Leech & Brother, Shur's Lane below Pechin St. Loss, $12,000.
  • Market-sheds and stalls on Girard Ave. between Sixth and Twelfth Sts. sold at auction preparatory to the abandonment of the public markets there.

< 1885 1887 >

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

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