Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

Retaining Wall, c.1930
4200 Block of Main Street, Philadelphia PA

Sara Jane Elk, Workshop of the World (Oliver Evans Press, 1990).
Part of Manayunk's unique character can be attributed to the relationship of its built environment to its surrounding topography. The continued need to maneuver among the hills provided the impetus to engineer and construct such things as overpasses, retaining walls and stairways. Many of these features remain hidden unless one travels by foot.

Of the many retaining walls, the curvilinear stone pile behind the Arthur Ashe Tennis Center on Main Street, evokes considerable interest as it combines a natural outcropping with a sweeping rubble wall. Topped with stone cresting, it also utilizes a stone buttress for additional support. This particular wall was constructed as a part of the effort to elevate the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad about 1930. A sizable and interesting work of masonry, the curve may actually reflect the earlier use of the site. Gas storage tanks for the Manayunk Gas Company sat near the edge of the wall.


Update May 2007 (by Sara Jane Elk):
No change.