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From Stream to Sewer: A History of Philadelphia’s Landscape (Rescheduled Da...

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Wagner Free Institute of Science

1700 West Montgomery Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19121

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This is the rescheduled event from February 20th. Due to popular demand, we are now offering this talk twice: Wednesday, March 20th and Thursday, April 18th. Please only register for one date.

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

Join us for a Weeknights at the Wagner lecture by:

Adam Levine, Historical Consultant for the Philadelphia Water Department

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 PhillyH2o.org, 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.

Main image: Break in Wingohocking Creek Sewer at intersection of Camac and Courtland streets, July 16, 1914. Philadelphia City Archives.

Below: Wingohocking Creek Sewer under construction in Courtland Street, April 30, 1901. Source: Philadelphia City Archives

Historical photograph of the Courtland Street sewer under construction, 1901. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Water Department.

FAQs

What are my transportation options for getting to and from the event?

From I-76 or I–95, take 676 to the Broad Street exit. Follow Broad north to Norris Street (look for Temple University’s red banners). Turn left on Norris, go three blocks to 17th Street, make a left and follow 17th Street one block to Montgomery Avenue.

The closest SEPTA Regional Rail station is Temple University (a 15-minute walk from the Wagner). If you are coming from within the city, you can take the Broad Street subway (Orange Line - LOCAL only) to Temple University/Cecil B. Moore Avenue. Walk one block north to Montgomery Avenue, three blocks west to 17th Street.

By bus: The number 2 SEPTA bus stops at 16th Street and Montgomery Avenue heading north or 17th Street and Montgomery Avenue heading south.

Where can I park near the Wagner?

Street parking is available on Montgomery Ave. in front of the Wagner and on surrounding blocks. Parking on 16th St. and 17th St. is free and without time limits. Parking on Montgomery is free, with a two-hour time limit west of 18th St until 8 p.m.. Parking on Bouvier St. is free, with a two-hour time limit until 8 p.m. Parking on Cecil B. Moore (one block south of the Wagner) is metered and two-hour. We encourage arriving early if you would like to park near the Wagner.

Garage parking is available at Temple’s Liacouras Center; the garage entrance is on 15th Street,
below Montgomery Avenue. $3/hour, Monday – Friday; $17 all day on weekends.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, we do not need to see your ticket at the door.

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Location

Wagner Free Institute of Science

1700 West Montgomery Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19121

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