Fairmount Waterworks

Unidentified Artist

Fairmount Waterworks


Unidentified Artist


ca. 1839-1850


Pencil and ink wash on cream paper


9 1/2 x 14 1/8 in. (24.13 x 35.8775 cm.)

Accession #:


Credit Line:

Asbell Fund Purchase


The wire suspension bridge at Fairmount, built in 1842 by Charles Ellet, was the first of its kind in America. As an innovative piece of engineering, the bridge only added interest to the nearby ensemble of the Schuylkill Waterworks, which had been one of Philadelphia's favorite tourist sites since 1822. The 1839 watermark on this drawing suggests that the view was sketched not long after and certainly before 1875, when a new steel structure replaced the suspension bridge. Details of costume suggest also that the drawing was made before 1850. Since numerous artists and amateurs sketched or painted this scene, a specific attribution may remain elusive.