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Fairmount Water Works, Philadelphia

(55 reviews on the web)
Tourist Spot Educational Site
The Fairmount Water Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was Philadelphia's second municipal waterworks. Designed in 1812 by Frederick Graff and built between 1812 and 1872, it operated until 1909, winning praise for its design and becoming a popular tourist attraction. It now houses a restaurant and an interpretive center that explains the waterworks' purpose and local watershed history. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 for its architecture and its engineering innovations. It was the nation's first water supply to use paddle wheels to move water.HistoryFollowing a series of yellow fever epidemics in the late 18th century (which was at the time thought to be caused by unclean water or by rotting matter in the streets) city leaders appointed a "Watering Committee". The initial water system was designed by Benjamin Latrobe and accepted by the committee in 1799. His system utilized two steam engines (in series) to pump water from the Schuylkill River, into the city, then into two wooden tanks that held a total of just 57,000USgal. From the wooden tanks, the water was gravity fed into a series of wooden water mains. The system was plagued with problems. If either of the steam engines failed, the water supply to the city was cut off.The committee began searching for another solution and eventually picked John Davis and Frederick Graff (Latrobe's apprentice and successor as chief engineer) to design a new waterworks, in order to meet the demand of the increasing numbers of city residents and to solve the problem of inadequate storage capacity.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Awesome food!!! Beautiful evening views of Boathouse Row!! White glove treatment all the way!! Perfect venue for romantic evening or event!! You won't be disappointed!  more »
  • We didn't have this stop planned on our trip. But due to the rain we were looking for an indoor activity. This is an EXCELLENT Movie & Self guided tour. It has a great hands on section for children, p...  more »
  • From far away I thought it was restaurant.Going down the stairs and walked into a museum-aqueduct much knowledge about water and sewage Philadelphia.Nice visit specially for days in the rain and cold ...  more »
Google
  • An interesting place to visit and the best part is free to the public. The history or use of the building is more interesting for me. Since Waterworks closed in 1909, it was converted to Philadelphia Aquarium for many years. Later, it was converted to a public swimming pool until mid 1970's. Now, Fairmount Water Works is "a hands-on science and environmental education center" Fairmount Water Works is only few steps from Philadelphia Museum of Art so, make a quick stop to see the display of gears and machines that supplied the water to the city. It will only take about 20 to 30 minutes. UPDATE: A new installation of Freshwater Mussel Hatchery is on display for visitors, and scientists are there to answer any question.
  • One of America's first public water works, this was an original pumping station with a reservoir where the art museum now sits. The pumping station is a museum as a look back in time. Visit this first and then move into the art museum.
  • I go hear almost every evening to watch the sunsets. But, did you know that there is a museum inside? And that they support water conservation? Dig deeper my friends. Check out their program and tour the Water Works. They also rent out for events such as weddings and graduations. Must see place and amazing to hang out on a Summer's Eve.
  • Nice place to exercise. Grest views.
  • Rented a CityBike to ride along the Schuylkill River Trail and hands down this was a perfect stop along the way. There's a little viewing platform to see the waterfalls and the entire surroundings are just amazing. Worth the bike ride 100%.