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Philadelphia Water Department
Water and Drainage History Course


Ellen Freedman Schutz, Adam Levine and Drew Brown originally developed this seven-module course to help train interns, volunteers and staff at the Fairmount Water Works, but it has proved so useful that we are now making it available to everyone through the Web.

Click the pictures or numbers
next to each title to open that course lesson

1. Philadelphia before William Penn

2. Water and drainage in 18th century colonial Philadelphia

3. Water systems predating Philadelphia’s system

4. Philadelphia's first water supply system at Centre Square, 1801-1815

5. Philadelphia’s innovative water works at Fairmount, 1815-1909

6. Industrial and sewage waste lead to need for water filtration, 1854-1914

7. Sewerage and drainage for the city

For best comprehension of this complicated history, we would recommend that these course modules be viewed in the order presented below. That said, for anyone with limited time or a special interest they can also be viewed individually. The course material presented in these modules is a condensation of many sources, some of which we hope to make available in the future as links to each module. Two excellent sources from which we drew extensively in the creation of this course material are Water for the Cities, by Nelson Blake, and "Fairmount Water Works," by Jane Mork Gibson. Both these publications are out of print, but they are available from PWD in PDF form.

We would welcome your feedback about these course units, especially if anything is unclear, or if you have other topics you would like to see us cover. Of course, if you think the course is wonderful, we would enjoy hearing that, too!

To contact us, click here to open up an e-mail link.
To begin the course, click on any of the links above.

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