Railway Depot at Philadelphia


This lithograph of 1832 shows the depot of the Philadelphia, Germantown, and Norristown Rail Road Company, located at the junction of Green and Ninth Streets, Philadelphia. In the foreground is a locomotive, which is seen pulling passenger cars. The Philadelphia, Germantown, and Norristown Rail Road Company was incorporated on February 17, 1831, under a charter enacted by the Pennsylvania legislature. Rails were laid between Philadelphia and Germantown and the line was opened on June 6, 1832. The first trains were drawn by horses and covered the six miles (9.66 kilometers) from Philadelphia to Germantown in about 45 minutes, a speed of around eight miles (12.87 kilometers) per hour, considered very fast at the time. On November 23, 1832, a steam locomotive was introduced. It could pull four cars with passengers from Philadelphia to Germantown in 28 minutes. The fare was 25 cents. This print, made shortly after the introduction of the locomotive, has been attributed to William L. Breton, a watercolorist and early lithographer of Philadelphia scenes who was active in the city between about 1825 and 1855. Born in England circa 1773, Breton immigrated to Philadelphia around 1824. In the late 1820s, he contributed illustrations to Annals of Philadelphia, compiled by the antiquarian John F. Watson.  In 1829 Breton entered the lithographic trade to execute the illustrations for the Annals. He continued to work with the printers of the plates, the first commercial Philadelphia lithographers, Kennedy & Lucas, throughout the early 1830s.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Kennedy & Lucas's Lithography, Philadelphia


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 print : lithograph ; 14 x 21 centimeters


  • Digital catalog number: POS 634


  1. William L. Breton, Philadelphia on Stone Biographical Dictionary, Library Company of Philadelphia, http://www.lcpdigital.org.
  2. “Philadelphia History: Early Railroad Transportation,” http://www.ushistory.org/philadelphia/railroad.htm.
  3. Philadelphia on Stone Biographical Dictionary of Lithographers, http://www.librarycompany.org/pos/posdictionary.htm.

Last updated: February 26, 2014