Philadelphia from the Navy Yard


The shipyard at Front Street on the Delaware River in the Southwark section of Philadelphia became operational in 1776. In 1801 it became the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and the first official base of the United States Navy. The larger ironclad warships introduced into the navy after the American Civil War required more space, and in 1871 the shipyard moved to League Island at the confluence of the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers. This print by John Caspar Wild (circa 1804−46) shows the Delaware bustling with an assortment of vessels, including rowboats, three-masted sailing ships, and steamships. Wild was 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. This image first appeared in 1838 as Plate 10 in Wild’s “Views of Philadelphia,” published by the partnership of J.C. Wild & J.B. Chevalier. John T. Bowen, the prominent Philadelphia lithographer and publisher, bought out Wild & Chevalier in 1838, including rights to the views, which he reissued later that year, and again in 1848 with hand coloring.

Last updated: February 26, 2014