We’ve had the historic photo in our office since before we opened. When we realized the 100th anniversary of the photo was coming up, we turned to some local historians for some info about the event. But who would have imagined such a similar scene today!
Adam Levine, a Historical Consultant for the Philadelphia Water Department, provided us this info:
From The Inquirer (in early June 1912)
“Lightning Wrecks Train, Kills Man and Injures Many — Fires Floods and Caveins Caused by Severe Storm — Death Dealing Humidity Preceeded Heavy Downpour of Rain”
“…Weakened by the flood of water which found its way into it, the old mill sewer which follows a course under Baltimore avenue collapsed carrying a large portion of the street and pavement with it between Forty-second and Forty-third street.
The cave-in caused considerable excitement among those living in the vicinity. Houses were undermined by the cave-in, and to add to the danger, strong gas fumes, which escaped from broken mains, found its way into many of the dwellings. Many persons left their homes fearing that they would collapse…”
Here is a mention of the repair work from the Department of Public Works:
“This section of the sewer is in a very poor condition, having been built many years ago, and, as is to be expected of structures of this sort, after= many years of service, it is now about worn out. A section of this sewer, across Baltimore avenue at Forty-third street, collapsed during the early part of this year. The work of reconstruction was done under an emergency order from the Director, at a cost of $8,519.73, and paid for by ordinance of Councils at the completion of the work. Liberal appropriations should be made for the continuation of the rebuilding of this old sewer at numerous other points where it is on the verge of collapsing.” [Bureau of Surveys, Department of Public Works, Philadelphia. Annual Report for 1912, p. 97.]
And from our friend and neighbor, author and retired reporter for the Inquirer Murray Dubin, some fun historical nuggets about June 18, 1912:
Locally, on that date, the Phillies were 5th in the eight-team National League with a record of 20-24, behind Chicago in the standings and ahead of St. Louis.
The trolley tracks that you see in the photograph were installed in 1895.
Nationally, June 18 was the first day of the GOP convention in Chicago, pitting Teddy Roosevelt against William Howard Taft. Taft would win the nod, Roosevelt would bolt the Republicans and form the Progressive Party and both men would lose in the fall to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
Roosevelt came in second, becoming the answer to the presidential trivia question: who was the last presidential candidate to come in second in the general election and not be the nominee of one of the major parties.
Thanks Murray and Adam!