2000 Hamilton Street

The south side of the 2000 block of Hamilton has been a railroad block since the very beginnings of railroads in our neighborhood in 1832. The development of this block must be seen in conjunction with the changes that occurred at the site of 2100 Hamilton, which you can read about here.

The 2000 Hamilton block did have two chapters in its story before the railroads. The first was as the site of Springettsbury Manor, Thomas Penn's mansion built from 1732 to 1740 (see our article here). (As an aside for our readers from York, Pennsylvania, we do recognize another Springettsbury Manor in that town. This was delineated in 1722 for William Penn's grandson Springett Penn, as discussed at the outside link here. It was even adjacent to Spring Garden Township, i.e. the one in York).

As discussed in our article about Dalian on the Park, Philadelphia's biggest industry in the 19th century was textiles. By 1860 the southwest quadrant of this block had multiple textile factories; the northwest quadrant had a few residences; and the western half was devoted to rail freight.

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Portion of 1796 Hills map
Springettsbury Manor is on the low hill near top left at the current site of 2000 Hamilton Street. Bush Hill to its east was on Buttonwood Street between 17th and 18th Streets.
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Portion of 1860 map
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Portion of Hexamer map from 1867
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1894 photo looking west from 20th Street along Pennsylvania Avenue.
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1894 photo with opposite view, looking east along Pennsylvania Avenue.
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1894 sketch looking west from 20th Street along Pennsylvania Avenue.
After the 1898 dig that lowered the tracks the area from Hamilton to Pennsylvania (the Callowhill Cut) was below street grade. The same large expanses below grade occurred between 18th and 17th and between 15th and Broad Streets.
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1901 map showing the turntable shifted one block west
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Portion of 1917 Sanborn map 
There were 20 tracks running in this depression. The turntable at 2100 Hamilton would direct the locomotives and cars to the appropriate track for loading and unloading.
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Freight stations mapped along the Philadelphia and Reading line in 1920.
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Philadelphia and Reading crane capacities in 1920. 
The 20th and Hamilton freight yard had a top of the line heavy duty crane capable of lifting 50 tons, only matched by Pier G in Port Richmond.

The grocery business was very competitive in Philadelphia in the first half of the 20th century. In the 19th century outdoor food stalls evolved into neighborhood grocery stores, with 485 within the original city limits of Philadelphia in 1835. These businesses, usually based in rowhomes and, if lucky, in a corner site, always struggled. Judging appropriate inventory was always an issue in the days before refrigeration. As discussed in our article on the Tivoli and Acme Markets, first chains, then consolidation of chains began in the late 1800's. Other neighborhood grocers retained their independence but joined cooperatives to enhance buying power. These aggregations accelerated by the time of World War I, when there was roughly 1 retail grocer for every 60 families, or one to three grocers on every square block. Quaker City Wholesale Grocery Company was one such cooperative. It merged with the Unity-Frankford cooperative in 1963, and then evolved into various supermarket chains. For a brief history of grocery stores in Philadelphia, see outside article here.

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Quaker Store ad from 1937 in the Inquirer.
The Quaker City Wholesale Grocery Company warehouse was at 2000 Hamilton at this time.
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Portion of 1950 Sanborn insurance map
In 1939 the garage at 21st and Hamilton was built and another story was added to the three-story reinforced concrete Quaker City warehouse running from 20th Street to the auto storage warehouse.
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Photo looking north circa 1955.
2000 Hamilton, when seen without the current parking lot obscuring its architecture, looks very much like the other commercial buildings in the neighborhood that were built in the early 20th century.
2000 Hamilton (built 1927), the Baldwin Munitions Plant (1916), the American Stores Warehouse (1914), and the Otis elevator building (1927) were all constructed between 1914 and 1927. The granary was built in 1925.
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Photo looking east at the 21st Street bridge and 2000 Hamilton in 1959.
The building on the left had been built on piers so trains could pull in beneath.
Just to the right of the granary can be seen the new police station at 20th and Callowhill Streets. The parking lot that would cover over the rail yard had not yet been built.
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Southeast corner in 1955.
The vertical sign at right says Home of Quaker Food Markets
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Same corner in 2012 right before Hand and Stone replaced Hollywood Video.