View from the Inclined Plane, near Philadelphia


This circa 1840 print shows the view looking east down the inclined plane cut into Belmont Hill (Fairmount Park) for hauling railroad cars from the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia to Columbia on the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad. Two men watch the cars being hauled by cables from within the plane. The covered Columbia Railroad Bridge over the Schuylkill, completed in 1834, is visible in the background. In the foreground is a heavily wooded landscape, with the cityscape in the distance. The plane connecting the river with the rail line was part of a system of railroads and canals built across Pennsylvania in the early 19th century to help Philadelphia compete with New York and Baltimore, port cities that were developing new transportation links to the rapidly growing American Midwest. The plane was abandoned in 1850 when the railroad company built a new line. The illustration 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.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

J.T. Bowen, Philadelphia


Title in Original Language

View from the inclined plane, near Philadelphia

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 print : lithograph, hand-colored ; 17 x 19 centimeters


  • Originally published as plate 4 in Views of Philadelphia, and its vicinity (Philadelphia: Published by J.C. Wild & J.B. Chevalier, Lithographers, 72 Dock Street, 1838). The lithographic stones for the views were acquired by John T. Bowen, who later reissued them with hand coloring. He copyrighted this view in 1840.
  • Digital catalog number: POS 286.4

Last updated: July 30, 2015