Stand Pipe for West Philadelphia Water Works


This lithograph from circa 1853 shows the proposed design for a standpipe with an ornate spiral staircase, topped by a statue of George Washington. The standpipe was to be erected at Thirty-Fifth and Sycamore streets as part of the Twenty-Fourth Ward Water Works (i.e., West Philadelphia Water Works). On the ground, individuals are shown gazing up at the structure from its base. Other men and women ascend the staircase and view the vista from the observation deck of the standpipe. Completed circa 1855 (without the statue) after the designs of engineers Birkinbine & Trotter, the standpipe served as a reservoir for the waterworks located on the west bank of the Schuylkill River, north of the Fairmount Dam. It was removed in 1870. A note on recto of this print notes a height of 130 feet and a diameter of five inches, and states it should be “made of B[illegible] iron.” The maker of the print is listed as the firm of Rease & Schell, a partnership formed in the 1850s by William H. Rease and Francis H. Schell. Born in Pennsylvania circa 1818, Rease was a prominent mid-19th century Philadelphia trade card lithographer. He was known to highlight details of human interest in his advertisements. Schell was born in Philadelphia in 1834 and is best known for his work during the Civil War as an illustrator for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. The printer was Thomas S. Sinclair (circa 1805–81). Sinclair was born in the Orkney Islands of Scotland and was active in Philadelphia by 1833, where he soon had his own business and was one of the first local printmakers to experiment with color lithography. A practical lithographer throughout his career, Sinclair produced all genres of lithographs, including maps, advertisements, city and landscape views, sheet music covers, portraiture, political cartoons, certificates, and book illustrations.

Last updated: December 29, 2015