Held at: The Historical and Interpretive Collections of The Franklin Institute [Contact Us]222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA, 19103
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the The Historical and Interpretive Collections of The Franklin Institute. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Frederick Graff (1775-1847) was a hydraulic engineer best known for designing Philadelphia's landmark Fairmount Water Works in the 1810s. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Graff learned carpentry and drafting skills and at the age of twenty was hired by Benjamin Latrobe as assistant engineer in erecting the city's first water works, located at Centre Square (now the site of Philadelphia City Hall). This was the first municipal water system in the world. In 1805 Graff was made superintendent and engineer of the system. The system proved inadequate, however, and in 1811 Graff and John Davis, the previous superintendent, recommended that a new water works be built on the Schuylkill River at Fairmount. The Philadelphia Watering Committee approved the plan and put Graff in charge of its design and construction. Work began in 1812 and the new facility was in operation by 1815, with various re-designs and improvements made through 1822. The Fairmount Water Works included many innovations of Graff's design and its success won him wide acclaim. He subsequently served as consulting engineer for water works in New York, Boston, and many other cities. Graff worked for the city of Philadelphia for forty-two years. Upon his death in 1847, his son Frederick Graff, Jr. (1817-1890) took his place, serving as chief engineer for the Philadelphia Water Department from 1847 to 1856, and again from 1866 to 1872, after which he opened an independent practice as a water works engineer.
In addition to the technological advancements it represented as an innovative municipal watering system, the Fairmount Water Works was widely recognized for its aesthetic beauty and the architectural style of its Greek Revival buildings. The Fairmount Water Works immediately became a major Philadelphia landmark and one of the most popular tourist attractions in early nineteenth-century America. After nearly a century of operation, it closed as a working water works in 1909, after which the facilities were put to several uses, including an aquarium and indoor swimming pool. Since 2003, it has been home to the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, a historical and educational center managed by the Philadelphia Water Department. The Fairmount Water Works has been designated a Civil Engineering Landmark and a National Mechanical Engineering Landmark and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Fairmount Water Works. "About Us." 2015. Accessed August 16, 2016. http://fairmountwaterworks.org/about-us/.
Graf, Walter A. "The Water Works of the City of Philadelphia: The Story of Their Development and Engineering Specifications." Last modified 2014. Accessed August 16, 2016. http://www.phillyh2o.org/backpages/GrafHistory_HSP.htm.
Tatman, Sandra L. "Graff, Frederic, Jr. (1817 - 1890)." Accessed September 9, 2016. https://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/ar_display.cfm/33318.
Frederick Graff maps, technical drawings, and plans on Philadelphia (Pa.) water engineering projects, circa 1683-1875, consist of maps, drawings, and plans related to both the elder and younger Graff's work as water engineers. Most of the materials relate to the Fairmount Water Works, but some pertain to other water engineering projects in Philadelphia.
The collection is organized into nine series: Series I. Graff portraits (lithograph 1820, phototype circa 1870s); Series II. City maps; Series III. Centre Square; Series IV. Fairmount steam powered system; Series V. Fairmount water-powered system: 1822-1867; Series VI. Fairmount turbine system: 1870-1911; Series VII. Water mains, pipes, and hydrants, Series VIII. Miscellaneous, Series IX. (unlabeled). An inventory is available on-site.
There is also an oversized board with photographs of water works, circa 1870.
Gift of Mrs. Frederick Graff, 1890
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact The Historical and Interpretive Collections of The Franklin Institute directly for more information.
- The Historical and Interpretive Collections of The Franklin Institute
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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