Southwest View of the Old Court House in Market Street, Philadelphia at the Time of its Being Taken Down (7th April 1837)


This lithographic print shows the Old Court House in Market Street, Philadelphia, constructed in 1707−10 after the justices complained of having to hold court in an ale-house. In its first four decades, the building fulfilled a number of municipal functions, including those of watch-house, courtroom, and site of official proclamations, inaugural addresses by newly elected governors of Pennsylvania, and elections for the county and city of Philadelphia. A cupola on the roof held the town bell. The print is by William L. Breton (circa 1773−1855), a British-born watercolorist and early lithographer of Philadelphia scenes, who was active in the city between about 1825 and 1855. Breton was commissioned in about 1828 by John F. Watson (1779−1860), an antiquarian and amateur historian, to supply illustrations for his Annals of Philadelphia, published in 1830. Breton’s interest in the historic city buildings, including the Old Court House, was piqued by his work on the Annals, and he made a lithograph of the courthouse from the northeast end just before it was demolished. In this view, people stroll past to do their marketing, some of them appearing oblivious to the bricks and roof tiles being sent flying by the demolition team.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Lehman & Duval Lithographers, Philadelphia


Title in Original Language

S. W. view of the old court house in Market Street, Philada at the time of its being taken down (7th April 1837)

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 print : lithograph ; 18 x 17 centimeters


  • Digital catalog number: POS 672


  1. William L. Breton, Philadelphia on Stone Biographical Dictionary, Library Company of Philadelphia,
  2. Philadelphia on Stone Biographical Dictionary of Lithographers,
  3. John Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia, 1609−1884 (Philadelphia: L.H. Everts, 1884).

Last updated: February 26, 2014