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Scroll down the following monthly articles to reveal the history that shaped the Baldwin Park neighborhood (within two blocks of the Park). You can also put a term in the Search box above to find by name or use the interactive map to find by location (the interactive may be a little buggy on Apple products).
History of Matthias Baldwin Park


In the 19th Century the area between Vine Street and Spring Garden Streets in northwest Center City was an industrial zone with foundries, the Baldwin Locomotive Works, the US Mint and other manufacturers. The area immediately around Matthias Baldwin Park was cleared as part of urban renewal in the 1960s and the Franklintown Corporation was formed to redevelop the area. The plan for a park at the current location was made and financed by that now defunct corporation in cooperation with the Redevelopment Authority. The park was originally named... more >>

Matthias Baldwin, 1795 – 1866


The tolling of church bells announced the death of a prominent Philadelphian, the year 1866. In the funeral procession City dignitaries stood shoulder-to-shoulder with 1,000 workers. They proceeded on foot from center city to Laurel Hill Cemetery. Along the way, the funeral cortege came to a large factory at Broad and Spring Garden Street. As they circled the factory, the bell in its cupola rang out the death of its owner. That man was Matthias Baldwin.


Known for his abolitionist views and philanthropic deeds, Baldwin had built from scratch one of Philadelphia's most successful businesses, the Matthias Baldwin Locomotive Works. ... more >>

Baldwin Locomotive Works
Baldwin Locomotive History


In 1835 Baldwin built Baldwin Locomotive Works at Broad and Hamilton Streets.  Innovative and forward looking, the company expanded its operation to 39 buildings on 17 acres in this neighborhood. It became a player in the American Industrial Revolution selling locomotives nationwide and worldwide. At its peak in 1907, the company was the largest employer in the Philadelphia region.


By 1928 Baldwin had outgrown its urban site and moved to Eddystone, Pennsylvania. Slow to convert from steam driven locomotives to diesel, the company floundered financially.  It merged with Lima-Hamilton engine builders in 1951. All production ceased in 1956. Not to be missed is the locomotive made by Baldwin on display in the Franklin Institute, 20th and Parkway.

Logan Square, Art Museum Area, Philadelphia
Neighborhood History


Neighborhood boundaries:  North to Spring Garden Street, South to Vine Street, East to Broad, West to Schuylkill River.

Imagine this urban neighborhood as a wilderness that catches the eye of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. He travels from the docks of the Delaware River west toward the Schuylkill River on the rough newly hewed road that he calls Callowhill, the maiden name of his second wife. It is the late 1600's.  He makes his way ... more >>

Hidden Creeks

The Philadelphia area was once honeycombed with creeks, springs, marshes and ponds.  For good reasons at the time, these waterways were piped underground into combined sewers where raw sewage, rain water runoff and spring water mixed together...more>>

The Gardens at Springettsbury

We admire the gardens in Matthias Baldwin Park.  Now that the rains have stopped,  everything is green, lush, and blooming.  There was once another garden that was the talk of Philadelphia in the 1700's.  People walked and rode in carriages to see it.  That was the garden of Thomas Penn at Springettsbury Manor House (20th - 21st and Hamilton Sts., currently City View Condominiums...more>>

Why "Hamilton" Street?

With the opening in the neighborhood of two new apartment buildings, one "The Alexander" and the other "The Hamilton," one might think Hamilton Street is named for the current Broadway star and second-place duelist. The name of the street leading into the park comes from a man and his family who came to Philadelphia well before Alexander Hamilton...more>>

The Hangman Comes to Town

William Gross, 27 years old, was hanged on February 7 or 17, 1823 in Logan Square known at the time as North West Square, one of five public squares set aside in 1682 by William Penn for the people of Philadelphia.  His was the last public hanging in the City.


Gross, in a jealous rage, stabbed to death his mistress Kesiah Stow, who was keeper of a notorious bawdy house. He was quickly apprehended; he showed remorse and was resigned to his fate...more>>

The Callowhill Cut

One of the more curious landmarks in the Baldwin Park neighborhood is an open subway that stretches from Broad Street to 22nd Street. Known as "The Cut," it traces its origins from waterway, then to railway and, hopefully, to parkway.

William Penn had planned his city at the narrowest point between the Delaware River and the Schuylkill River. This allowed both river fronts to be developed at the same time. Most early development, however, was concentrated on the Delaware waterfront. In order to make a connection between the Delaware waterfront and the Schuylkill...more>>

What is Your Address?


When William Penn located his city of Philadelphia between two rivers, the Delaware and the Schuylkill, he reasoned that ships could use either river to discharge  or to take on new cargo. He envisioned the City growing inward from the shores of both rivers toward Centre Square and Broad Street. This plan influenced the numbering of the north - south streets on his famous grid...more>>

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The Granary

Besides the Callowhill Cut, another prominent curiosity in the Baldwin Park neighborhood is the granary at 411 North 20th Street.  It is just north of the apartment complex named The Granary (capital letters) that was completed in 2014. The granary (lower case) was originally a wooden structure built by the Reading Company as a grain distribution center around the time of the Civil War. Grain would come into Philadelphia via horse drawn carts and be stored in the granary's internal silos until later distribution by rail...more>>

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The Preston Retreat


At the 20th Street driveway entrance to The City View Condominiums stands as plain a tribute to Greek architecture as you can find....more>>

Spring Garden Towers/PCOM

2018 is the centennial of a hospital building that still stands 300 feet north of Baldwin Park. Many neighbors have been inside without realizing its original purpose. But let's start with a former mayor of Philadelphia who lived in the Baldwin Park neighborhood....more>>



Baldwin Park in Maps: Part 1


In August 2018 some of the streets surrounding Baldwin Park were resurfaced. The milled asphalt exposed concrete overlying Belgian blocks, with embedded trolley tracks. The universal reaction from neighbors, on seeing this paving palimpsest, was delight. There is a fascination in seeing concrete (pun intended) manifestations of prior structures and traces of the everyday lives of our predecessors. This page is the first of two parts looking at the immediate area around Baldwin Park via historical maps, with this page taking us from the time of William Penn through the 19th century....more>>

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Baldwin Park in Maps: Part 2

This 1922 Bromley map shows the tension between heavy industry and deindustrialization in the area. We see significant expansion of Baldwin Locomotive westward across 18th Street into the current park area. Tatlow Street has been renamed Noble Street, and Caven Street, the north-south street just west of the current Tivoli Condominiums, renamed Opal. Just north of the future Baldwin Park...more>>

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1600 Callowhill

This past December saw the opening of 1600 Callowhill, 95 apartments in a building on both the National and Philadelphia Registers of Historic Places  It is one of the few large buildings in the Baldwin Park neighborhood to survive the failed Franklin Town project of the 1970s. The history of the building is kindly mentioned on the 1600 Callowhill website, and this post will explore a little further.

In the 19th century, iron, railroads, and coal...more>>

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The Spanish Chapel


This plaque marks the site of the Spanish Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (Capilla Catolica Hispana de la Medalla Milagrosa), the first Spanish language church in Philadelphia. It was at 1903 Spring Garden Street for 101 years, from 1912 to 2013...more>>



Empty Lot 18th and Callowhill

...The Electric Equipment Company made transformers at this site for over thirty years. Polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs) were used as a dielectric (an efficient insulator) in the transformers. Railroad cars would pull up along the plant via the Callowhill Cut. The oily PCB, specifically Aroclor 1260, would be pumped from the train cars into four 12,000 gallon underground storage tanks at the plant, at which time there would be overflow and spillage of PCBs at the site of unloading and storage...more>>

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Franklin Town


Nothing has affected the basic layout of the Baldwin Park neighborhood more than a failed redevelopment project of the 1970s. Read about it here...more>>

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Franklin Town 2.0

...Franklin Town never materialized as a unified project and was not completed as promised in one decade. The empty lots bought up by the Franklin Town Corporation and the Redevelopment Authority were either built on, given to the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), or sold off over the ensuing five decades. Despite this organic growth, the planned city-within-a-city is almost completely built out and fairly cohesive as a whole. Let's do a rough tally of output today versus the 1971 proposal...more>>

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The Lenni Lenape


The long tale of Philadelphia's oldest inhabitants, and some links to the Baldwin Park neighborhood, can be briefly told by discussing the characters seen in the photo below, looking east from the west side of Logan Square....more>>


The Hoopes Mansion

In 2015 the house at the northeast corner of 18th and Spring Garden was sold by an owner who had been there for almost 100 years. Prior to this owner, the house had been built by the nuts and bolts king of Philadelphia in 1878, and then owned by the pavement king of Philadelphia. Here is its history...more>>

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Hugo and Baldwin Park


On August 29, 2019, at 7:30 the Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park are hosting a free outdoor movie screening in the Park. The feature is Hugo, a 2011 film based on Brian Selznick's 2007 book The Invention of Hugo Cabret. When the Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park were debating which movie to show for our first movie night (hopefully an annual event!), someone suggested Hugo because it was about trains, an obvious connection to our Park, but there are other neighborhood connections between the movie and the Park...more>> 

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Hallahan High School

...down 19th Street from the current Baldwin Park is the first all-girls diocesan high school in the country. Over 40,000 students have passed through its doors. In its early years it was surrounded by coal yards, factory smoke, the sounds of banging steel and railroad engines, and working class residences. John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls High School at 311 North 19th Street has been a neighborhood anchor for over 100 years...more>>

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Piasecki Helicopters


There are only two State of Pennsylvania historical markers within two blocks of Matthias Baldwin Park, the area I have been calling the Baldwin Park neighborhood. The first is at the northwest corner of the Park and honors Matthias Baldwin, the founder of Baldwin Locomotive Works. The second stands at 1937 Callowhill Street, and honors a pioneer of helicopter flight, born 100 years ago this month. ...more>>

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The Schuylkill River in Geologic Time

In the history articles on this website we have looked back at the current neighborhood in what seem like grand time scales: decades back to Franklin Town; centuries back to the Baldwin Locomotive Works, Andrew Hamilton's Bush Hill, William Penn's Springettsbury Manor; and millennia back to the Lenni Lenape. Those time scales are miniscule compared to the intervals discussed in this article...more>>

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Central Manual Training School/NOVO

In early 2020 ten new town homes at 17th and Wood Streets will be nearing completion. This site was originally the location of the first Manual Training High School in Philadelphia. See more>>

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The Tivoli

The ten-story Tivoli building lines the west side of Matthias Baldwin Park, and its inhabitants account for many of the memberships of the Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park... Let's look at the history of this parcel, taking note of three Philadelphia businesses that grew from this site into regional or national conglomerates. See more>>

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Pennsylvania State College of Optometry

The Carpenters Museum at 1809 Spring Garden Street was once a Victorian brownstone housing one of the first optometry colleges in the United States. See more>>


Police Stations

There have been four 9th District police stations since the Act of Consolidation of 1854. Three of them have been in the Baldwin Park neighborhood. Check out their history... more>>

The Stetson Mansion

At 1717 Spring Garden Street is a townhome occupied for ten years by a Philadelphia success story: John B. Stetson. Currently the house is divided into four condominiums, ranging from 1100 to 1600 square feet and in assessed market value from $300-400,000. This article will look at Stetson the man, hat maker, and philanthropist...more>>


Oil Cloths at Bush Hill

The Baldwin Park neighborhood used to be called the Bush Hill neighborhood. But whatever happened to Bush Hill?...more>>

The Baldwin Locomotive Works

There have been two major events shaping the current Baldwin Park neighborhood. The more recent was the Franklin Town Development as discussed in two prior articles starting here. The more distant was industrialization. This article will look at the history and physical structures of the most prominent industrialist in the neighborhood.
Matthias Baldwin was born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, in 1795...more>>


Garretson Hospital

If you travel back over a century ago, you would find a dental school, a school of pharmacy, a podiatry school, and a medical school adjoining the future site of Baldwin Park, right about where the North x Northwest town homes are today on the north edge of the Park. This article will talk about Temple University, James E. Garretson, and Joseph Price, possibly only one of these names being familiar to you...more>>

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Dalian on the Park


The site of Dalian on the Park, at 21st and Pennsylvania Avenue, transitioned from a trolley car manufacturer, to a textile mill, to a motel, and then to the Dalian...more>>


Locomotive Pioneers in the Neighborhood

Matthias Baldwin was not the only locomotive builder in the neighborhood. Read about some lesser-known neighborhood machinists...more>>

Norris Locomotive Works


Baldwin Locomotive Works dominated the neighborhood, and locomotive manufacturing in the United States, in the second half of the nineteenth century. Before Baldwin, another locomotive manufacturer was preeminent...more>> 


Sellers and Company

William Sellers and Company was located on the two blocks south of the Mint Building at the Community College of Philadelphia. The Sellers family had ties to industry, art, photography, education, screw threads, and Mark Twain...more>>

IBEW/The Radium Institute

Read about the neighborhood address that served as:

  • an enterprise that was 130 years ahead of Elon Musk;
  • then the home of a successful Philadelphia retailer, who at age 70 married a 26-year-old woman and bestowed upon her a wedding gift of a house and the equivalent in today's dollars of $5 million;
  • then an institute of radioactive quackery;
  • then an institute of osteopathic quackery;
  • then the birthplace of the American Christian Fundamentalist movement;
  • then a surface parking lot;
  • and finally today's IBEW Local 98...more>>


Bridget Carey: Murder in Baldwin Park

In 1906, four murders in what is now Baldwin Park were front page news. Characters in this drama included the neighborhood doctor, the undertaker, the druggist who sold the poison, and the boarding house widow who was tried for killing her children...more>>

Graham and Laird Factories

19th and Hamilton Streets

Where Hamilton Street meets Matthias Baldwin Park today, there used to be two buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, the descendants of Hamilton and Baldwin had other connections besides the geographic....more>>


Hamilton Townhomes

1900 Block Hamilton and north

Back in the 19th century these three blocks had 117 brick houses and a few businesses. The  blocks still have 117 brick houses, almost all new within the last 50 years, and one business....more>>

Baldwin at War

Baldwin Locomotive Works was a machine shop, one that specialized in locomotives. It could also turn its designers and workers to the war effort when needed....more>>


Asa Whitney & Sons

1600 Block Callowhill Street

A one-time partner of Matthias Baldwin decided to specialize in making railway tires and wheels just down the street from Baldwin. His business became the biggest in the country....more>>

Southwest Corner of 17th and Spring Garden Street

This corner has hosted a hotel, several breweries (with the first beer cans?), and the Spring Garden Street Branch Library....more>>


Children's Crisis Treatment Center

1825 Callowhill Street

There is a new six-story apartment rising out of the earth at this site, but it had once been a church, a boiler shop, an orphanage, and then a treatment center for children who had been traumatized...more>>

Baldwin Park at the Smithsonian

We sometimes take the history that happened in our neighborhood for granted, but objects with connections to the Baldwin Park neighborhood are exhibited at the Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C. for a global audience. Objects include the most famous coin in the world, that just sold at auction for 19 million dollars....more>>


William B. Bement & Son

20th and Callowhill Street

Makers of big machines dotted our neighborhood in the 19th century. The Bements had ties to Baldwin Locomotive Works, neighborhood mansions, and current art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway....more>>

2100 Hamilton Street

The site on which 2100 Hamilton is soon to be finished has a short history: the site was part of Springetsbury Manor and then railroad tracks. The tracks were surface tracks on Pennsylvania Avenue from 1832 to 1898 before being submerged into a mostly open subway. Luxury condominiums now rise above those former tracks....more>>


Buildings on the Historic Registers

Can you name the nine buildings in the Baldwin Park neighborhood that are on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places? How about the two on the National Register of Historic Places but not on the local register, one of which was demolished? How about a few that should have been on the local register but were never designated, and now gone? Check them all out....more>>

Philadelphia Shafting Works

18th and Hamilton

Shafting was the equipment (pulleys, axles, leather straps) that allowed the transfer of rotary power from a stationary steam engine to a tooling machine. The world's largest manufacturer of power shafting was located here from 1866 to 1888. The lot then became a part of Baldwin Locomotive Works; then a new Lit Brothers warehouse; then a parking garage for the Community College of Philadelphia. Read more....>>


Darwin in Baldwin Park

Teachers, home schoolers, and nature enthusiasts can learn a few things from a slow walk around Baldwin Park. Darwin wrote about topics like flower sexes, rock rusting, worms, fossils, mutant short-legged sheep; you can read about examples of all of these and even some new discoveries made after Darwin's time...more>>

The Watermark

The Watermark at 2 Franklin Town Boulevard is a 24-story, 464-unit senior life-care center built in 1984. Rental residences are available for those seeking independent living with meals, memory care, and skilled nursing. The building is 350 feet south of Baldwin Park, and residents of the Watermark spend many a day visiting the beauty of the park. Read more....>>


2000 Hamilton Street

An entire block that captures the history of our neighborhood: Lenape to Penn to Morris to railroads to warehouse to retail (but unusually, no residential). The second oldest commercial building in the neighborhood; the biggest fire; a land swap; air rights; weird Percent for Art statue that no one sees -- read about all these ....more>>

Pickering Spring

Southeast Quadrant of Baldwin Park

Baldwin Locomotive Works was the big player in the neighborhood in the 19th century, but it had a supporting cast of other metalworkers. One of them made suspension systems for rail vehicles and is responsible for the curious strip of land beyond the fence on the south side of Baldwin Park....more>>


Matthias Baldwin's Family

Matthias W. Baldwin is buried on Millionaires' Row in Laurel Hill Cemetery. There are 20 bodies buried in that family plot, and only two of those bodies are descendants of Matthias Baldwin. Who are the others? They have ties to Philadelphia art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Art Museum, the mayor who consolidated Philadelphia, social scandal, engineering, and Civil War memoirs....more>>
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The Lot behind the Library

Western Half

The now mostly empty lot behind the Parkway branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia was home to residences and one of the largest soap-makers in Philadelphia. Read about the western half of the block and the oldest commercial building in the neighborhood....more>>
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The Lot behind the Library

Eastern Half

A black lead crucible factory in the neighborhood? That doesn't sound good!....more>>
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Knickerbocker Ice/Rodin Museum

Parkway between 21st and 22nd

Ice and art. Businessmen and philanthropists Thomas Cahill and Jules Mastbaum. This site has a fairly simple history....more>>
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Youth Study Center/Barnes Museum

This site on the Parkway between 20th and 21st Streets involved three controversial decisions: the destruction of 1500 homes and businesses to build the Parkway; the placement of a penal institution on the glorious boulevard; and the relocation of an art collection by voiding the terms of a will....more>>
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The Lofts at Logan View/

Harrington Hoist

At 1666 Callowhill Street is a building dating to 1903 that made the National Register of Historic Places, but not the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Edwin Harrington built hoists, which allowed heavy industry to move its wares....more>>
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Military in the Neighborhood

From only a quick glance one might think our Baldwin Park neighborhood (within two blocks of the Park) is devoid of military references. Read about the mementos of past conflicts dating back to the 4th century....more>>
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Fire Stations

The volunteer fire companies begun by Ben Franklin were replaced by a professional Philadelphia Fire Department in 1871. This article will look at our neighborhood in terms of past fire stations, significant fires, and fire marks....more>>
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Unions in the Neighborhood

There were tens of thousands of workers in the neighborhood, and where there are workers, there eventually became unions. But some companies unionized faster than others....more>>
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Horses in the Neighborhood

Horses were the primary means of local transportation in the 19th century, whether hauling passengers, grain, beer, coal, iron, ice, trash or milk. Estimates put the number of horses and mules stabled in Philadelphia in 1900 at 50,000. In our neighborhood there are a few remnants of this horse era....more>>
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Matthias Baldwin: Church Builder

Matthias W. Baldwin started from nothing and grew his business to generate jobs for thousands of workers. These jobs supplied food, clothing, shelter and futures for all those families in the rowhomes interspersed with industry in our neighborhood. Baldwin went further: working as an abolitionist, a school builder, and substantial donor that gave birth to six churches....more>> 
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Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park

The founding members of the then Franklin Town Park saw the park as the center of a community, a community that deserved a first-rate park. Then, they made it happen. The park, now named Matthias Baldwin Park, is an oasis of order and beauty in a world that can sometimes seem otherwise....more>>
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Legacy of Robert Morris

If you sit on a bench in the north side of Baldwin Park, you will be facing the Callowhill Cut, a swath of dug earth that harks back to one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Behind you will be Spring Garden Street, which formerly bore the name of this signer, and which terminated at his estate that became the first land acquired for Fairmount Park....more>>
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