View of the United States Hose House and Apparatus, Philadelphia


This tinted lithograph from circa 1851 is a keepsake print showing the firehouse on Tamany (i.e., Buttonwood) Street, just south of York Avenue in Philadelphia. Members of the volunteer hose company are seen racing the hose carriage around the corner. Firefighters, most wearing gear, pull the carriage, run from behind the vehicle, and don their uniforms in the entry to the firehouse. The firehouse contains an iron-work veranda and a tower from which a volunteer stands and points, directing the company. Adjacent to the station house and on the corner stands “Tamany Hall,” an oyster house adorned in signage, including street signs and the name of proprietor, “Jas. Griffiths.” The proprietor stands at his doorway, a server watches from outside, and a patron rushes out a rear entry. The grocery store of “Tunis O. Bancroft” is at the opposite corner. A female clerk stands in the doorway. Merchandise displays, including brooms and buckets, line the storefront. The store owner, attired in an apron and a top hat, stands in front of the store under an awning, watching the commotion. Another hose carriage, ornately decorated, is parked nearby in the street. A small toolbox, bucket, and sponge lie in the street next to the apparatus. The scene also includes the neighboring residential buildings on the block and around the corner. The United States Hose Company was instituted on July 4, 1826, and incorporated on March 13, 1833. In November 1851, Baltimore held a celebration for firemen in cooperation with Washington D.C. that was attended by the United States Hose Company. The United States Hose Company reciprocated by hosting the Independent Fire Company of Baltimore during the 1852 celebration and parade held in Philadelphia. This print contains an inscription at the bottom reading: “View of the United States Hose House & Apparatus, Philadelphia. To the Independent Fire Co. of Baltimore & the Franklin Fire Co. of Washington, this print is respectfully dedicated, (as a slight token of appreciation of their generous hospitality) by the United States Hose Co. of Philadelphia.” Although the artist of this work is unknown, it is possibly the work of James Fuller Queen (circa 1820–86), a Philadelphia lithographer and pioneer chromolithographer known for his attention to detail.  Queen was a volunteer firefighter who made prints of other fire companies.

Last updated: January 8, 2018