Roper's Gymnasium. 274 Market Street, Philadelphia


This circa 1831 print is an advertisement for the gymnasium operated by James Roper on the 800 block of Market Street in Philadelphia. The illustration shows the interior of the facility, in which men exercise in front of a crowd of spectators. On the right, three men perform moves on a balance beam next to a wall with a rack from which boxing gloves and squash rackets hang. Beside the beam, two men wearing boxing gloves are talking near the pommel horse. In the front center and left of the room, two pairs of men are fencing; one pair are wearing fencing masks. Others in the gymnasium pull weights attached to the ceiling of the building, test their strength on the parallel bars, climb vertical and inclined ropes, hang and climb from exercise ladders, straddle and perform pull-ups on horizontal poles, and dangle upside down from a trapeze. Spectators, including several men and a few women in winter clothing, watch from around the room. Roper established the gymnasium circa 1831. Around 1833 it relocated to the 800 block of Walnut Street. The lithograph is by Edward Williams Clay, a Philadelphia native, who was a prolific caricaturist as well as a portrait painter, engraver, and chronicler of the city.

Last updated: September 26, 2014