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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Market Street: 1905

Market Street: 1905

Market Street at Eighth in Philadelphia circa 1905, with the Lit Brothers building at right. Detroit Publishing Company glass negative. View full size.

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Question about buildings.

What is the name of the building in the center, with the clock tower and man on top? Also the building to the left of it that has a pagoda looking top. I have 2 glass negatives of this area with people walking, riding bicycles, horse and buggy, but no vehicles. I don't see the arch in this picture.

[The building with the clock tower is City Hall. - Dave]

Market Street Subway.

The Market Street subway was always underground from river to river. The extension in the 1950s buried the elevated portion from 23rd to 46th streets. It was never elevated at 15th.

Market Street

Wow. I lived in Philly for eight years near Market Street, which I walked frequently from Olde City to Broad. The scene looks remarkably similar today. As a previous commenter mentioned, the altered first-floor facades really trashed up the appearance of the architecture, but above those I would say more than a good half of the buildings in the pic still look the same. One of the truly remarkable things about Philly is its architecture. Unfortunately most people forget to look up a little when walking down the street.

That's where I am right now!

As I read this I am currently on the 4th floor of the Lit Brothers Building, which still looks much the same, though due mostly to an extensive restoration about 15 years back. And indeed it is mostly offices with a Ross Dept. Store on the 1st floor. The IRS and Mellon Bank have offices there. Many of those buildings are still there (at least more than I'd have thought) though they've gone through that very unfortunate phenomenon of the 70's and 80's where some nitwit decided to "wrap" the 1st floor (and some 2nd) facade in retail crap decor, which ages horribly and ends up looking crappier than you can imagine. But then you look UP and see all this wonderfully ornate and diverse architecture. Its a bit of a split personality disorder. For instance Thomas Eakins' studios were in this utterly fantastic Second Empire (I think) style corner building. It is so detailed and gorgeous, but some nut job (apparently not stopped by the city or any historic commission) wrapped the bottom in an atrocious Valu-mart, which is in very poor disrepair. But look up and you are like "Holy Crap!"

Plus it's neat to think that, while highly unlikely, one or two of those busy bustlers were my great grandparents who lived and worked downtown, right during this period. Could be, anyway, right?


About ten years after that photo was taken, my grandfather and a friend of his who owned a plane flew down Market Street between the buildings. It hadn't been made illegal yet.

Philadelphia Subway

Opened December 1905.

Philly Underground

According to:

Market-Frankford Line

1907: 69th St- 15th St (all elevated)
1908: 15th St - 2nd St (underground)
1915-1922: 2nd St - Frankford (Bridge-Pratt) (elevated)
1955: 40th St - 15th St rebuilt underground

Philly Subway

Was there really a subway in 1900? Wikipedia seems to say there wasn't one at that time. Is it like one of those London subways, which is really just a tunnel from one side of the street to the other?


Thanks for the photo. I work in Philly and have lived here all my life. I love old pictures of the city.

Don't Make 'Um Like They Use Ta

The architectural variety in this picture is just amazing. This makes my jaw drop much further than any modern skyscraper.

Modern Life

Popping out of a subway tunnel and into the hustle and bustle of the big city, anyone would think this is modern times until they saw the clothes and the horses. So much is going on!

Lit Brothers

The Lit Brothers and the Strawbridge & Clothier buildings are both standing but sadly not as department stores. The Strawbridge building is on the other side of 8th street. Both are used as office space.

Market Street, Philadelphia

I was stationed in Philadelphia with the Navy, 1957-59. The trolley cars were still active when I first arrived. We rode them many times from the Navy Base into center city. Many streets were still cobblestone at that time. I met my wife there and we will have been married 49 years in a few days.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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