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1898 1899
1896 1898

Philadelphia Timeline, 1897


  • January 4. The Board of Education reorganized and elected Simon Gratz, President, and Samuel B. Huey, Vice-President.
  • January 26. Fire which was discovered on the basement of the grocery store of Hanscom Brothers destroyed nearly all the buildings in the block bounded by Market, Filbert, Juniper and Thirteenth Streets, including those occupied by Hirsh & Brothers, Blum Brothers, Hanscom Brothers and S. W. Dennett. The clock tower of John Wanamaker's store was burned, and only the most strenuous efforts of the firemen saved the building from destruction. The establishment of the Dunlap Printing Company sustained about $50,000 damage. The losses aggregated nearly $1,125,000 and in most cases were covered by insurance. Fire in the upholstery department of John & James Dobson's carpet warehouse caused about $50,000 damage.
  • February 4. The breaking of a water pipe in Lit Brothers' store damaged goods to the extent of $15,000.
  • February 12. A fire in the meat and provision warehouse of Swift & Co., Ninth Street and Girard Avenue, caused a loss of about $45,000 of which amount $25,000 was sustained by F. Guetekunst, who occupied the third floor as an electrotyping and photo-engraving establishment.
  • March 3. The large power house of the Union Traction Company, at Thirteenth and Mount Vernon Streets, was destroyed by a fire that was started, it is thought, by the chain of a traveling crane touching the armature of a generator. the roar of steam escaping from a bursted supply-pipe caused a stampede of spectators and frightened the horses attached to a chemical engine, which knocked down and fatally injured Aug. A Binder, aged 30 years, and William P. Brown, aged 26 years. A score of people were injured. About a dozen lines of street cars were blocked for almost four hours. the loss on buildings and machinery was estimated at $400,00.
  • March 8. The Northwest Public school building on Race Street below Fifteenth, was badly damaged by fire, the loss being estimated at from $10,000 to $15,000.
  • March 22. The breweries of John Roehm, Spaeth, Krautter & Hess, Welde & Thomas company, Excelsior Company, John C. Miller & Sons, and the Mutual Company, consolidated, under the title of the Consumer' company, with a capital of more than $5,000,000.
  • March 23. By a collision with the tugboat Asa W. Hughes, the tugboat fidget was sunk in the Delaware river, opposite Gloucester.
  • April 8. the new building of the Apprentices' Library company, at Broad and Brandywine Streets, was thrown open for public inspection.
  • May 6. Lincoln Park on the Delaware was sold at auction to ] Savage, of New York, for $4,400, subject to incumbrances aggregating $119,500.
  • May 15. President McKinley unveiled the Washington Monument in the presence of a vast assemblage, and the remainder of the official programme was carried out in a highly successful manner.
  • May 20. The bronze statue to Stephen Girard on the plaza west of the City Hall was unveiled with impressive ceremonies. James M. Beck delivered the oration. Addresses were delivered by Mayor Warwick and Governor Hastings.
  • June 8. The Land Title and Trust Company awarded the contract for the erection of its new 16-story building on the Southwest corner of Broad and Chestnut Streets, to be completed May 1, 1893, to Charles McCaul.
  • June 12. The steamboat John Ericsson, built for the Baltimore and Philadelphia Steamboat Company, was launched from Neafie & Levy's shipyard.
  • June 21. The National Saengerfest of the Northeastern Saengerbund opened in the new Saenger Hall, in the presence of 10,000 people. Mayor Warwick delivered an address of welcome to which Major Carl Lentz, of Newark, N.J. President of the Northeastern Saengerbund, responded. A concert concluded the day's programme.
  • July 5. While James Seebeth, 65 years old, was dozing on a chair in front of the club house of the William Penn Volunteer Hose Company, Girard Avenue above Frankford Avenue, a cannon cracker in his coat pocket was ignited and exploded, causing injuries which proved fatal.
  • July 16. Philadelphia tugboat A. R. Gray was burned to the water's edge off Andalusia while coming to this pot from New York by way of the Raritan Canal.
  • August 4. During a fire at the Jayne Chemical Works, Frankford, two employees and thirteen firemen were burned, some of them seriously. Several explosions of highly inflammable oil made the work among the flames exceedingly hazardous. The loss did not exceed $10,000.
  • August 16. William C. Wilson aged about 60 years, proprietor of Wilson's Circulating Library, 1117 Walnut Street, was brutally murdered on the first floor of his library between 6 and 7 P.M. His head was beaten into a jelly. No clue to the murderer was discovered.
  • September 6. Warehouses Nos. 128, 130, 132 and 134 North Delaware Avenue and Nos. 121, 123, 125 and 127 North Water Street destroyed by fire. Many firemen overcome by smoke and several injured, but none dangerously. The total loss estimated at $255,000 fully covered by insurance.
  • September 20. The sixtieth anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the Boy's High School was celebrated at the school. Addresses were delivered by Dr. Robert Ellis Thompson and Professor Zephaniah Hopper, who was a member who was a member o the first graduating class.
  • October 2. Fire damaged the tanning and finishing works of the Quaker City Morocco Company, at Second and Oxford Streets, to the extent of $80,000.
  • November 12. Mayor Warwick signed the ordinance leasing the Gas Works to the United Gas Improvement Company and made public a statement giving his reasons therefor.
  • November 14. The Cramp Shipbuilding Company was awarded the contract for building four steamships, each 290 feet in length, for a syndicate, which chartered them to the Boston Fruit Company to be run in the West India trade.
  • November 18. The new building of the Kensington Hospital for Women, on Diamond Street opposite Norris Square, was formally opened.
  • November 28. Apt Brother's dry goods store, 39 and 41 North Eighth Street, was almost destroyed by fire. The firm estimated the value of its stock at $75,000, on which there was an insurance of more than $50,000. Adjoining properties were damaged by water. Three firemen were injured, but none seriously.
  • December 6. The Board of Judges filled vacancies in the Board of Education caused by the resignation of Avery D. Harrington, Second Section, and the death of A.M. Spangler, Fourteenth Section. George M. Lowrey, Secretary of the Second Sectional Board, was elected to succeed Mr. Harrington and Joel Cook to succeed Mr., Spangler.
  • December 11. Fire of unknown origin destroyed the building of John & James Dobson, carpet manufacturers and retailers, on Chestnut Street above Eighth. Falling walls and water damaged the building and stock of Sharpless Brothers, adjoining on the east, and the building of the Commonwealth Title and Trust Company and the establishment of William H. Hoskins on the west. The total loss was estimated at $750,000 fully covered by insurance.
  • December 15. The building at 1025 Market Street, owned by ex-Judge Hare, and occupied by Conway Bros., dealers in novelties, china and glassware; Gately & Fitzgerald, dealers in installment goods, Henry J. Bartle, manufacturer of blank books, and F.W. Klinger, manufacturer of leather goods, was badly damaged by fire, the total loss being about $75,000. A fireman came in contact with an electric light wire and was hurled to the pavement from the fifth floor, sustaining dangerous injuries. Three other firemen were severely injured and one was overcome by smoke. The road jury in the case of the projected League Island Park, Bounded by Eleventh and Twentieth Streets, Pattison and Government Avenues, filed its report, awarding $399,670 to property owners who claimed $1,502,529.
  • December 20 George D. Widener was elected President of the Philadelphia Traction Company, to succeed the late D.W. Dickson. The Chestnut Street National Bank, of which William M. Singerly was President, was closed for business and put in the hand of United States Bank Examiner Hardt. The publicity announced cause of the closing was an impairment of the capital. The capital was $500,000 and surplus $150,000.
  • December 24. The Chestnut Street trust and Saving Fund Company made an assignment for the benefit of creditors to George H. Earle, Jr., and Richard Y. Cook.
  • December 30. The number of school children in this city between the ages of 6 and 16 years was reported by the Real Estate Assessors as 196, 375.

< 1896 1898 >

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

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