In the mid-1870s, the Pennsylvania Railroad consolidated its livestock operations in Philadelphia and built sprawling stockyards and a slaughterhouse on the Schuylkill River’s west bank. Now the site of Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, for nearly half a century, this area was Philadelphia’s version of Chicago’s Packingtown.
Philadelphia stockyards and abattoir shortly after they were completed illustrated in Hexamer’s General Surveys of Philadelphia, Vol. 12 (1877).
Before the Pennsylvania Railroad complex opened, hogs, cattle, and sheep were held and sold at independent drove yards along rail lines leading into the city. Many of the yards were located in West Philadelphia near today’s University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University campuses.
Avenue Drove Yard, near Lancaster Avenue, West Philadelphia (formerly Hestonville), c. 1867.
Wednesday afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving, I got a call from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Bob Bauder. Bauder was working on a story about the demolition of buildings located along the north shore of the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh. The reporter had gotten my name from a colleague who had kept a copy of a 1997 web page I had written about some historic preservation regulatory review work done along the road where the buildings known as the Millvale Industrial Park were located. Bauder wanted to get some more information on the building he had driven by many times and his story ran in the November 26, 2010, edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Continue reading
Earlier this month PBS aired Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City. As an architectural historian I have long admired Burnham’s work. Union Station and the Mall are incredible amenities for folks like myself living in the Washington area. My interest in Burnham, however, goes beyond the architectural and city planning spheres. When he married Chicago Union Stockyards president John B. Sherman’s daughter Margaret, Burnham became part of the extended Allerton family, livestock entrepreneurs who profited from the shipment of most of the meat animals shipped into New York City during much of the nineteenth century.
Although Burnham never went into business with his father-in-law beyond his firm’s design of Sherman’s home and the Chicago Union Stockyards landmark gate, he did benefit from Sherman’s Chicago interests and he may have benefited from Sherman’s longtime relationship with the Pennsylvania Railroad. John B. Sherman (1825-1902) and Samuel W. Allerton Jr. (1828-1914) were cousins whose families had been in business together since the first decade of the nineteenth century. Continue reading
My paper on the development of stockyards in the eastern United States (and ultimately, Chicago) was presented at the 2009 Vernacular Architecture Forum conference in Butte, Montana.
Last week I learned that a revised and expanded version will be published later this year. Details to come. The paper was published in Western Pennsylvania History: Model for the Nation: Sale, Slaughter and Processing at the East Liberty Stockyards (2010).
In the meantime, here’s an illustrated version of the 2009 VAF paper abstract: