W.H. Rease. [Joseph Ripka’s Mills. Manayunk 21st. Ward]. (Formerly the Connelly Container site and present location of the proposed residential buildings Venice Island 4432-42). "Manayunk 1856" in calligraphy on mat. From Colton’s Atlas of America.
New York: J.H. Colton & Co., 1856. 18 1/2 x 30. Lithograph printed by Wagner & McGuigan. Hand color. Margins trimmed close to image bottom and sides. Loss of two to three inches of image at top. Upper right corner of image missing. With center fold as issued. Additional fold to left. Repaired tears into image. Else, good condition. Framed. Prints of Philadelphia: 188; Wainwright: 211. A/A
In 1856, J.H. Colton & Co. issued a Philadelphia commercial edition of its Atlas of America. Included amongst the many fine maps were advertisements for numerous Philadelphia firms. Several of the larger businesses purchased larger, double page illustrations of their businesses. These are amongst the most interesting and decorative trade ads of the period, and this ad, for Joseph Ripka’s Mills, is one the best from the Colton atlas for it shows the town of Manayunk, now a very popular section of Philadelphia.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Manayunk--which took its name from the Indian word meaning “place of drinking”--was a very prosperous mill town. It had its origins in the dam, canal and locks built by the Schuylkill Navigation Company in 1821. The regular use of this canal, the steady stream of water power, and the easy transportation to Philadelphia and markets further afield created a good business climate for the mill owners of Manayunk. Joseph Ripka, “Manufacturer of all descriptions of Plain & Fancy Cottanades For Men & Boy’s Clothing,” had set up his mills in Manayunk in 1831 and by the time of this print he was the largest cotton manufacturer in the United States. His mills are depicted from a vantage point on the west bank of the Schuylkill, with the growing town surrounding them. On top of the ridge behind the mills is the shown the then small community of Roxborough. A wonderful industrial image and the most desirable view of Manayunk.