Travels Through North America, during the years 1825 and 1826

By His Highness,
Bernhard, Duke of Saxe-Weimar Eisenach

The banks of the Delaware are hilly, well cultivated, and covered with elegant country-seats and villages. The neighborhood, and the breadth of the river reminded me of the river Main, near Frankfort; unfortunately we could not enjoy this handsome landscape, because as soon as we arrived on board, we set down to dinner, and afterwards it became dark. Amongst other little towns, we passed Bordentown, where Count Survilliers, Joseph Buonaparte, ex-king of Spain, has a very hand some country-seat, and Burlington. About eight o'clock, P. M. we reached Philadelphia. Mr. Tromp, who left New York a few days before, came immediately on board, and conducted us to the Mansion House, where, though we were not so elegantly lodged as at New York, we found every thing neat and comfortable. Next morning we drove out early, in order to get acquainted with the city, which contains more than one hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants, and to observe some curiosities. We went up Market street over the Schuylkill. In the middle of this broad Market street or High street, the first objects we perceived were the market-houses; the long, straight, uniform streets, which appeared to be endless, seemed singular to us: they are mostly planted with poplars, and all provided with paved side-walks. In point of showiness of stores and bustle, the streets of Philadelphia are far behind New York.

The two bridges over the Schuylkill are of wood; Market street bridge, consists of three covered arches of very strong wood-work, which rest upon two stone piers, and two stone abutments. These piers and abutments are built upon a rock; the pier on the west side must have cost a great deal of labor, because the rock on which it stands, is dug out forty-one feet below low-water mark. It is said, that this pier required seventy-five thousand tons of stone. The length of this bridge including the piers, is one thousand three hundred feet, whereof the wood-work takes up five hundred and fifty feet ; the extent of the middle arch amounts to one hundred and ninety feet, and the two others, each one hundred and fifty feet. A company, in the year 1798, began this bridge, and finished it in six years. At the east end of the bridge is an obelisk, which contains the following inscription: that besides the cost of the ground on which this bridge and its appendages stand, and which amount to forty thousand dollars, there were two hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars expended in building it; about a mile above this bridge there is another over the Schuylkill, which was finished in 1813, and cost one hundred and fifty thousand dollars; it is also of wood, and consists of a single arch, whose segment amounts to three hundred and forty feet, four inches; a toll is paid for crossing both bridges.

Somewhat north of the last bridge, and on the left bank of the Schuylkill are the water-works, by means of which the whole city of Philadelphia is supplied with water, even to the tops of the houses if wanting. The water of the Schuylkill is raised by aid of a dam; the water runs into a basin behind the dam as in a mill pond; hence it drives by its fall three wheels, each of them sixteen feet in diameter, which are in an appropriate building. These wheels work three horizontal pumps, which force the water through iron pipes into the reservoir, ninety -two feet above the surface of the river. Within twenty-four hours, four million gallons of water can be pumped into the reservoirs. From these basins the water is conveyed by iron pipes into every part of the city. At certain distances there are hydrants, where hoses can be screwed on in case of fire. Generally, one wheel and one pump are worked, the others are kept in reserve, and are only used in case an extra quantity of water is needed, or in case of fire. This work has now been in operation for two years; it was designed by Mr. Graff, an hydraulic engineer; the whole establishment cost four hundred and thirty-two thousand five hundred and twelve dollars; the daily expenses, including two overseers, are five dollars. The dam has also rendered the upper part of the Schuylkill navigable, and in order to unite the upper with the lower part of the river, a canal with a lock to it, has been opened along the western side of the dam.



Quondam © 2007.04.17