Fairmount Waterworks. Pictorial Embellishment of the Philadelphia Saturday Courier


This lithograph of the Fairmount Waterworks, on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, shows one of America’s earliest municipal water-treatment systems. Powered consecutively by steam engines, waterwheels, and pumps that lifted water to reservoirs on a hill (Faire Mount), the waterworks and its beautiful setting were a tourist attraction from the beginning. The plant was designed by Frederick Graff, and the result was an innovative engineering success and beautiful buildings reflecting the contemporary fashion for Greek Revival architecture. This print is by John Caspar Wild (circa 1804-46) a Swiss-born artist and lithographer, who arrived in Philadelphia from Paris in 1832. He produced paintings and prints of Philadelphia and other American cities, including Cincinnati, Saint Louis, and Davenport, Iowa. His works are important historical records of these cities before the era of large-scale industrialization and rapid urban growth. Wild partnered with John B. Chevalier in 1837−38 to publish Wild's “Views of Philadelphia." Wild then left Philadelphia, and Chevalier published a second edition of the prints in 1838.

Last updated: February 26, 2014