From Stream to Sewer: A History of Philadelphia’s Landscape

A Presentation by Adam Levine

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Wagner Free Institute

As we walk around the city of Philadelphia, few of us think about the hidden world of streams that once meandered across the city. Adam Levine will present a fascinating illustrated lecture that will uncover part of the city’s history that few people ever think about – the drastic changes made in the urban landscape since the city’s founding in 1682. Levine has been digging into the history of the city’s sewers and drainage systems since 1998. His talk will focus on the systematic obliteration of hundreds of miles of city streams—including Cohocksink Creek in the Wagner’s vicinity, Mill Creek in West Philadelphia, and Wingohocking Creek in Germantown. These streams, with watersheds that covered thousands of acres, were wiped off the city’s map, buried deep underground in pipes as large as 20 feet in diameter to serve as main drainage arteries in the city’s 3,000 mile sewer system. The combined flow of sewage and stormwater in these pipes, which periodically overflow, has environmental repercussions that are still being dealt with today—not only in Philadelphia, but in any older city with a similar sewer system. This lecture is guaranteed to reveal a side of urban infrastructure you have never seen, and change the way you think about cities in general.

Museum open until the talk begins at 6 p.m. Registration is free, but donations ($5 suggested) are welcomed at the door!

About Adam Levine:

Adam Levine, a historical consultant for the Philadelphia Water Department and webmaster of, is the expert on all things water (or sewer) related in Philadelphia. Levine has been digging into the history of the city’s sewers and drainage systems since 1998. He is also editor in chief of PHS Grow, the magazine of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and author of five books on gardening

Date And Time
Wed, February 20, 2019
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM EST

Wagner Free Institute of Science
1700 West Montgomery Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19121

Check this link to register for the free event and see some eye-opening photos. Below that is information on transport to the musum.

Annual Dinner Date

In case you missed earlier postings from this website and from the secretary, the annual dinner is scheduled for this coming Saturday, February 2nd. The date for extension of reservations is this Thursday, January 31st.

Sorry this information wasn’t included in recent postings.

Dinner Deadline Extended

Dear Members,

A final reminder to make reservations for our 34th Annual Dinner Meeting to be held at Gallo’s Restaurant on Roosevelt Blvd. at Stanwood St. in Philadelphia. By various personal  testimonials, the food at Gallo’s is excellent. The dinner will be buffet with four different main course selections.

Please note that we have changed the day from our usual Friday to Saturday, Feburary 2nd to avoid the ever-present Friday rush-hour traffic. the speaker for the evening will be Fred Moore, Historian with the Northeast Philadelphia History Network and his subject will be “The Birth of the US Airmail Service” with its first stop at the Bustleton Airfield in NE Phila.

New Deadline for reservations is this coming Thursday, January 31st.

Just phone or email Tom Brady with number of reservations

PHONE 215-518-8038                   EMAIL


Correction on Annual Dinner

All entrees will be served buffet style. Selections may be made as you choose.

Garden salad, Honey soy glazed salmon, Gallo’s lump crab cakes,  Chicken marsala, Penne with pancetta and tomato vodka cream sauce, garlic & herb roasted potatoes, fresh vegetables, warm apple cobbler & vanilla ice cream, tea, coffee.

COST: $35 per person. Send check by January 26th, payable to OE/SIA

MAIL TO: Tom Brady, 2024 Glendale Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19152-4013 215-518-8038         


NAME:_______________________________________ PHONE:_______________________


No. of Reservations @ $35 ea. = Amount enclosed $_______  DEADLINE: JANUARY 26th


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Philadelphia and the Birth of Airmail

An Illustrated Lecture by

Fred Moore, Historian, Northeast Philadelphia History Network


With American forces still fighting in World War I, the famous U S Army Air Service Curtiss “Jenny” trainer planes were assigned to a new mission: Deliver the mail on a regular schedule between New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. Army pilots made history when the very first airmail was delivered from New York to Philadelphia,  May 15, 1918. The Washington-bound airmail took off in front of throngs of officials and excited citizens who came in Model T’s, farm wagons, and on horseback to Bustleton Airfield, located at today’s Red Lion Rd. and Haldeman Ave. Airmail instantly became an integral part of communications. Commercial aviation was born.

Fred Moore is an historian with the Northeast Philadelphia History Network, president of the trustees of Lower Dublin Academy, treasurer of Pennepack Baptist Historical Foundation and past president of Holmesburg Civic Association. Fred is a retired chemical engineer with Rohm and Haas Co. and a consultant on the history of Northeast Philadelphia.

Bustleton Airfield today is a shopping center, housing development, and a recreational field.


DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 2019

5:30 Cash Bar 6:00 Buffet    7:00 Program

PLACE: Gallo’s Seafood Restaurant, 8101 Roosevelt Blvd., Phila., PA 19152

The restaurant is on the east side of the Boulevard (use far right lane) at Stanwood St., one block north of Rhawn Ave. Free parking is available. Accessible by SEPTA bus routes 1,14, 20, 50.


Garden salad, 1. Honey soy glazed salmon, 2. Gallo’s lump crab cakes, 3. Chicken marsala, 4. Penne with pancetta and tomato vodka cream sauce, garlic & herb roasted potatoes, fresh vegetables, warm apple cobbler & vanilla ice cream.

COST: $35 per person. Send check by January 26th, payable to OE/SIA

MAIL TO: Tom Brady, 2024 Glendale Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19152-4013



NAME:_______________________________________ PHONE:_______________________


No. of Reservations @ $35 ea. = Amount enclosed $_______  DEADLINE: JANUARY 26th

Dinner Selection(s)  

 Salmon ______   Crab cakes ______  Chicken ______  Penne ______


Diffusing Knowledge to Workers: The Heroic Mechanics’ Institute Movement

Joseph Priestley Society presentation

Thursday, January 10, 2019

11:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m.

A luncheon and program featuring Robert G. W. Anderson, president and CEO, Science History Institute.

Mechanics’ institutes were independent bodies established by workingmen, often with the support of philanthropists, beginning in the 1820s. They flourished in the British Isles, North America, and Australia, and provided evening classes to teach mathematics, mechanics, and chemistry. Usually the buildings included libraries and often museums. It was not until public education became freely available that the institutes declined.

The movement was a heroic effort in self-education. Typically, workers returned home from work at 7:00 p.m., when they changed into their best clothing and began two hours of study; they would have to be at work again at 6:00 a.m. the next day. In the heyday of these institutes thousands of them existed, broadening the horizons of many hundreds of thousands of workers in the sciences and engineering. Today they are all but forgotten, but when studied, they provide us with an inspiring understanding of our Victorian forebears.

About the Speaker

Robert Anderson is the current president and CEO of the Science History Institute. He studied chemistry at Oxford University, receiving a doctorate in inelastic neutron scattering. Later, he took an Oxford diploma in British archaeology.

Deciding to pursue a museum career, he became a curator in the history of science at the Royal Scottish Museum and then moved on to the Science Museum in London, where he became keeper (or head) of the chemistry department. Before long he was recalled to Scotland as director of the National Museums, merging the Museum of Antiquities and the Royal Scottish Museum to form a single entity. Then in 1992 he was appointed director of the British Museum, where he oversaw the building of the Great Court. After a decade there, Anderson stepped down as director to concentrate on research, first at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and later at Cambridge University.

Event Schedule

  • 11:30 a.m.
  • Networking Reception
  • 12:15 p.m.
  • Luncheon
  • 1:00 p.m.
  • Program

Tickets for the event are $25

Science History Institute

315 Chestnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

United States

Link for further information and tickets:

Reminder: Oliver Evans Chapter Event


A Glass Lantern Slide presentation by Martha Capwell Fox, Historian and Archives Coordinator, National Canal Museum/ Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor

Date: Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Time: 6PM Program     Reception to follow

Cost: $15 for members of sponsoring organizations and guests. $20 for all others.


Place: Wagner Free Institute of Science, 1700 W. Montgomery Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19121

Questions: E-mail:

Using the Wagner’s vintage glass lantern slide projector Martha will present a program featuring 19th-C views of Philadelphia by famed photographer William H. Rau, (January 19, 1855 – November 19, 1920).  Born in Philadelphia, at the age of 13, he started doing photographic work for his future father-in-law, William Bell, a medical and survey photographer for the federal government. In 1874, with Bell’s recommendation, Rau joined an expedition to Chatham Island in the South Pacific to photograph the Transit of Venus. After returning, Rau worked for the Centennial Photographic Company, the official photographers of Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Exposition. After the exposition, he joined his father-in-law’s stereo card studio, which he purchased in 1878. He operated this studio in partnership with his brother, George, until 1880. From that point into the 20th-C he traveled the world making photographs on commission for numerous groups.  He spent a significant portion of the 1890s doing photographic work for both the Lehigh Valley Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad, and published collections of his railroad photos in 1892 and 1900. He was the official photographer for the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 and the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland the following year. His work is now included in the collections of several prominent museums, libraries and archives around the world.