National Geographic : 1952 Jul
Today on the Delaware, Penn's Glorious River Joseph did go to America in 1816 and lived for 23 years on the large Point Breeze estate on the outskirts of Bordentown. Of this Bonaparte Park, 242 acres and one of the original Bonaparte buildings remain intact, now in the hands of a religious order. On the outskirts of town I scrambled up a weed-covered railroad bank to stand on the first piece of railroad track built in New Jersey. This formed a part of the Camden & Amboy Railroad, one of the first sections of track of the vast Pennsylvania Railroad system. Here was assembled and tried out on November 12, 1831, the famous John Bull locomotive, now in the Smithsonian In stitution in Washington, D. C. The parts had been brought from England. On the river's edge in Burlington stands St. Mary's Hall, an Episcopal Church school for girls, founded in 1837 by one of America's best-known hymn writers, Bishop George Washington Doane. In his residence, River side, now part of the school, he wrote "Fling Out the Banner" and "Softly Now the Light of Day." Dredges Gouge Artificial Lakes Millions of Pennsylvania Railroad passen gers between Philadelphia and Morrisville must have noticed several big artificial lakes made by dredging out gravel. The ice cap which once covered so much of the continent left large deposits of sand and gravel along the Delaware at this point, and the Warner Company, founded in 1794, owns 200,000,000 tons of it on land adjoining the new Fairless Works. The deposit is one of the richest in the country, and many of the streets, subways, schools, churches, office buildings, and manu facturing plants in Philadelphia have been made from this material, which is carried down the river on barges. The Warner land is leased to the King Farms Company, which supplies much of the food used in the whole coastal area from Bos ton to Washington. It raises asparagus, broc coli, spinach, string beans, and beets on its completely mechanized and irrigated farm, the water being piped from the artificial lakes made by dredging gravel. It is one of the largest farms of its kind in the country and uses 1,000 temporary laborers at harvest time. In 1932 the Warner Company gave Penn sylvania nearly 10 acres of the original Penns bury Manor tract on which, in 1683, William Penn built a noble mansion facing the slow moving river. Archeologists of the Pennsyl vania Historical and Museum Commission have unearthed enough of the house to make possible a handsome restoration, well worth a visit. Twelve miles below Pennsbury Manor and the new steel mill the river nudges the ex treme northeastern corner of that great sprawl ing metropolis, Philadelphia. The Nation's third largest city stretches for some 20 miles along the Delaware River. Philadelphia's "Scituation" Grows William Penn planned and built the original city at the junction of the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. "The Scituation," he wrote, "is a Neck of Land and between two Navi gable Rivers . . . whereby it has two Fronts upon the Water. . . ." Since then the city has spread out from an area 2 miles square until it now covers 135 square miles. Some 50 years ago Henry James, novelist and essayist, wrote of Philadelphia's "admi rable comprehensive flatness," of the "absence of the note of the perpetual perpendicular, the New York, the Chicago note . .. " Philadelphia's great abundance of flat land has resulted in a natural spreading out of population and industry alike. Thousands of workmen live near the plants where they work, in single two-story row houses, many owned by occupants, rather than in tall, rented apart ments, as in New York. Although Philadelphia was the largest sea port in the country for about a century and is now the second largest in tonnage of water borne commerce, there is very little feeling of the sea about it, no tang of salt air. A per son may live in Philadelphia all his life and not even know it is a seaport. This is natural because the city is 101 miles from the ocean. Yet 17,635 vessels arrived at and cleared from the Port of Philadelphia area in 1951, bound from and to most of the ports of the world. $500,000 for a Street The Philadelphia water front is well worth a visit. When you get within a couple of blocks of the river, you suddenly and abruptly leave department stores and ordinary office buildings behind and come upon customs bro kers, marine insurance companies, stevedoring companies, and dealers in marine and ship supplies. Stephen Girard, early merchant, philan thropist, mariner, and banker, and founder of Girard College, dreamed of a tree-lined boule vard along the water front, but did not live to see it. He left the income from a $500,000 trust fund "to lay out, regulate, curb, light, and pave a passage or street, fronting on the Delaware River, to be called Delaware Avenue." And there it is, Delaware Avenue, not tree lined but a fine long, broad water-front thor oughfare.