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The central Philadelphia waterfront along the Delaware River is surely the most storied and interesting section of the City of Brotherly Love. In this area in 1682, William Penn first stepped onto Philadelphia soil to found his "Greene Countrie Towne." The young city's riverfront quickly became the axis of the Port of Philadelphia's maritime, commercial and political bustle.

Here was where wheeling and dealing went on to encourage local, regional and national enterprise. Here was where a good amount of the nation's military forces got their start. Here was where transportation advances and other inventions were created and exhibited. Here was where early American capitalists made their fortunes. And here was where the individual American colonies were crafted into a nation. Of all places in Philadelphia, the central waterfront has changed the most over time; a strong case can be made that it has changed more than any place in America.

Exactly three hundred years after Penn founded Philadelphia, work began on refurbishing two abandoned municipal piers at Penn's Landing for residential use. The rehabilitation of Piers 3 and 5 North was the first new housing on the Delaware River in over a hundred years. Here is their story, as well as that of the immediate waterfront district in which they stand.

In 1907, the City of Philadelphia established the Department of Wharves, Docks and Ferries as a division of its Department of Commerce to meet the needs of the city's growing foreign, inter-coastal, coastal and Delaware River trade....  The Department of Wharves, Docks and Ferries built Pier 3 North and its sister building Pier 5 North in 1922 and 1923 as the last component of this particular phase of improvements to the Port of Philadelphia.  continued

Piers 3 and 5 were at the center of port activities along Philadelphia's river district at the time of their construction and afterwards, from the 1920s to the 1950s.  Dozens and dozens of ships would anchor in the Delaware River waiting to unload their freight at several docks lining the water.  Delaware Avenue was then the main transportation corridor for all of Philadelphia's shipping and handling of food, goods and general cargo.  continued

 Photo History 
Pier 3 Condominium on the Philadelphia Waterfront - 3 N Columbus Blvd - Philadelphia, PA 19106 - 215.351.4003