Christ Church, Philadelphia


This print shows an exterior view of Christ Church, located at 22–34 North Second Street in Philadelphia, as it appeared in the 1840s. Founded in 1695, Christ Church was the first parish of the Church of England in Pennsylvania and also the birthplace of the American Episcopal Church. The original church was a small brick and wooden structure that fit in with the Quaker-dominated surroundings of the late 1600s. Construction of the building depicted in this print began in 1727 and was completed in 1744. The steeple, financed by a lottery organized by Benjamin Franklin, was the tallest structure in the colonies for 56 years. Benjamin and Deborah Franklin and Betsy Ross were parishioners of this church and George Washington and John Adams attended services there during their terms as president. The first black Episcopal priest in America, Absalom Jones, was ordained at Christ Church, and 25 percent of all free and enslaved Africans in Philadelphia were baptized at the church. This print was originally published as plate 17 in Views of Philadelphia, and Its Vicinity, published by the firm J.C. Wild & J.B. Chevalier, Lithographers (Philadelphia, 1838). The lithographic stones used to create the prints for this book were acquired by John T. Bowen and reissued with hand coloring in 1838 and in 1848. John Caspar Wild (circa 1804–46) was a Swiss-born artist and lithographer who arrived in Philadelphia from Paris in 1832. He produced numerous prints and paintings of Philadelphia and other American cities. Bowen was a prominent Philadelphia lithographer and the most important mid 19th-century American publisher of publication plates. He was born in England circa 1801, immigrated to the United States in 1834, and worked as a colorist and lithographer in New York before relocating to Philadelphia. He took over the firm Wild & Chevalier, including the rights to Views of Philadelphia.

Last updated: August 19, 2015