Thomas Birch. “The Upper Ferry Bridge over the River Schuylkill near Morris Street in the County of Philadelphia.”
Philadelphia, ca. 1814-19. 14 x 19 3/4 (image). Engraving by Jacob J. Plocher. Very good condition. A/A
The subject of this distinctive Philadelphia view is the Upper Ferry or Fairmount Bridge, a covered bridge over the Schuylkill at Fairmount. The bridge was built between 1809 and 1812. It was made entirely of wood and spanned a distance of 340 feet. Until it was destroyed by fire in 1838 the bridge was a Philadelphia landmark, both for its fine appearance and as an engineering feat. Thomas Birch worked on this print with another celebrated local engraver, Jacob Plocher. The result is a charming and detailed image showing the bridge off against the lush surroundings of Fairmount Park. Several of the park houses can be seen in the distance, and in the foreground a boat on the Schuylkill River and several incidental figures, horses, and a wagon animate the scene. As a print that is both informative and visually effective, this is one of the prized early Philadelphia views. Ref: Stauffer, American Engravers, 2549; G. G. Deak. Picturing America 1497-1899. Princeton, 1988. #314; Snyder, Mirror of America, 754; Wolf, Philadelphia, p. 134.