text: seven walking tours through historic Philadelphia

Fireman's Hall Museum


Return to 2nd, and turn right a few steps to visit the Fireman's Hall Museum. Benjamin Franklin, who organized the first fire department — the Union Fire Company on December 7, 1736 — would be proud indeed of this unique museum, for there is nothing connected with fire departments, fire fighting and firemen that is not here. There are fire engines from 1700s and 1800s, all equipped with beautiful old brass fixtures. The first ones were hand-drawn, hand-operated by the men themselves and before our modern ones, of course, there was the horse-drawn fire engine.

Here are the leather buckets for water, miniature engines, nozzles, hoses, firemarks from old houses, parade hats, early fire insurance policies, medals and even a brass pole which goes from the third to the first floor, typical of those that firemen slid down for generations. Perhaps the art of the fire engine was carried to its apogee in the "Spider Hose Reel," made in 1804.

Historic District, North of Market Street