I have been playing around with trying to identifying the location, by visual clues, the photo below from 1897 and maybe it is identified somewhere and I have been wasting my time.
This is a famous scene from Philadelphia 1897 from the national archive collection that does not, cannot identify the location of the scene which basically puts a valuable piece of Philly history, a national treasure of period information, into some miscellaneous file somewhere.
Using magnification, I cannot make out the name on prominent dark sign at street number “714” of "Morris (Unknown Surname)(hidden by flag) and Sons", near a “Foster Shoe & Rubber Company” at “716”?
Looking at the Philadelphila Traction Street Car, one can faintly see “Market St.”? and “Ferries”? in the top stained or etched glass on the roof. From doing some research lately I see that the Market Street Ferries, and other ferries were all centered around that location and that was a terminal point for street cars and trains for so many middle class workers commuting to the Jersey suburbs.
I am not too familiar with the old subway system downtown but the tracks bent around I think Front Street coming out of the underground and ended in an elevated platform in front of all those long gone ferries on Delaware Avenue. That I think that the technology did not exist to build a subway into the water logged ground beneath Delaware Ave. at that time. Any comments or suggestions on readings on that old train system that eventually got extended as the Frankford Elevated Train uptown.
I have read that Philadelphia Traction had lines on Chestnut and Walnut Streets. I don’t know if there were competing street car companies at the time and if Market Street was covered by Philadelphia Traction as well?
The scene above is tight in terms of space and with the crowds and seasonal dress, I am thinking of a parade and or Fourth of July date and maybe Chestnut over Market in terms of the street space?
If you study the architecture of 714 and 716 (?) Street, the “714” sign looks as if it dominates two buildings, whereby Foster Shoe at 716 is likely to share the double address and is on a second floor above a joint double ground floor for Morris (Surname?) and Sons.
The two target buildings of my focus have what appear to be cast iron facades, and I think one ground floor is higher than another or that 716 (right) is higher than 714 (left), with an elevated with steps entrance?
In the 1959 City photo below, I am thinking that the cast iron façade, so fashionable in the nineteenth century, got scraped off in the early twentieth century especially if a high rent property on Chestnut street would want to look modern and charge modern style rent. Having lived on and off for thirty odd years in and around NYC, I have read the lament, mostly of real estate agents that scraping the cast iron façade off of 150 year old loft/warehouse buildings lowers the value of converted loft condos in terms of lost historic charm. That cast iron façades in most cases were not structural but decorative to a lot of original buildings etc.
With the image above, I am thinking that maybe 716's possibly original raised first floor got lowered into prime retail street level and the space above is maybe storage with the boarded up top of the ground floor? Cannot get a good image of present day 714, 716 Chestnut Street off of Google Street because of trees in front of buildings.
Also, the interesting thing is the where was this photo shot from?
If the buildings in the back ground are 714 and 716 Chestnut Street and then I would consider the place the photographer took the picture was on the steps of 721 Chestnut or through a second floor window. Have no floor plans for the Quaker City National Bank building to see if there was a second floor as part of the big front door entrance area. Quaker National Bank building was part of three buildings of similar design and by the same architect and usually labeled in photo archives as the “Commonwealth Trust & Title” building, the center building of the "Three Banks" (Quaker City National Bank; Commonwealth Title & Trust Company; Union Trust Co.), 713-21 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia by the architect Willis G. Hale.
Willis G. Hale - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
713 - 715/719 - 721 Chestnut Street, from right to left, Union Trust Co. – 713, Commonwealth Title – 715/719, and Quaker City National Bank 721, Chestnut Street.
721 Chestnut Street – Quaker City National Bank
1875 Lot Map Chestnut Street, PhilaGeoHistory
I lack proper resources in terms of reference books, distance and access to city records and or city indexes to identify names and or places of businesses at 714 and 716 Chestnut Street in 1897 Philly.
Any clues, comments, suggestions or other ideas and or answers to this shot from the hip curiosity about the location/place of this famous photo?