One Hundred Years - One Hundred People

By Harvey Cantor

IN THE BEGINNING - Pennypack Park Ordinance of March 20, 1905

AN ORDINANCE

To place upon the City plan a certain tract of ground as an open public place and park along the Pennypack Creek in the Thirty Fifth Ward, for the health and enjoyment of the people, and the preservation of the purity of the water supply of the City; also, to lay out upon the plan the necessary driveways and boundary avenues along said creek.

Section 1 - The Select and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia do ordain, that the Department of Public Works (Board of Surveyors) be authorized and directed to place upon the City plan a park, all those certain tracks of ground situated along both sides of the Pennypack Creek between Frankford Avenue and Pine Road, of widths that by passing the boundary lines generally along the crests of the heights, which are on either side of the creek, the purity of the water of the creek may be protected and thus the beauty of scenery preserved. The lines thus determined and established upon the City plan shall define the limits the park to be taken by the ordinance. The Department of Public Works (Board of Surveyors) is further authorized to lay out upon the plan the necessary driveways and boundary avenues along said Pennypack Creek.

As we enter the centennial year of Pennypack Park we want to honor the men and women who helped create and maintain the park.

George Smedley Webster

I have been asked who was the most prominent in its development. George Smedley Webster is the name that comes to mind. Webster was from a prominent family from Frankford. His career spanned decades. As a young engineer he first worked on the building of the 1876 Centennial. He planned the biggest public works project of its time, the Pennsylvania Subway, which connected the Reading Terminal with the Schuylkill and the main line of the B&O railroad and connection with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Webster was Chief of the Board of Surveys, thus a successor to Thomas Holme, William Penn’s Surveyor General, who is buried in our park. Webster was Chief Engineer of the City. In his later years he was the President of American Society of Civil Engineers.

Through his convictions and foresight the ordinances creating the park was introduced in March 1905.

METTAMICONT, Richard

An Indian Chief, who was reputed to have lived along the Creek. On June 7th, 1684, he sold both banks of the Pennypack Creek to William Penn.

TAMANY, WEHEELAND, WEHEQUEEKHON & QUENAMOCHQUID

Indian Chiefs who sold the land between the Pennypack and Neshaminy Creeks to William Penn on July 5, 1697. The original deed in the PA Historical Society shows that the ground extended in a northwesterly direction from the Delaware River as far as a horse could go in two days.

RAMBO, Peter

Believed to have been the Pennypack’s first white settler. He was born in Upland, Pa. in 1653. He was of Swedish descent. The Swedes had a good sized settlement in the Tacony area as early as 1640. Rambo’s plantation extended up-stream for more than a mile – about where the Bustleton Branch Railway crosses the creek at the Holmesburg Dam (Frankford Ave.). Near his home, there was a village called Rambodorf, on the south bank. The remains of this village were cleared to permit the building of the public institutions such as the House of Corrections and others along State Road.

CRISPIN, Silas

Reputed to have been born in an Indian wigwam along the creek, was the son of Esther Holme and Silas Crispin. He is buried in the family burial ground on Holme Avenue east of Holme Circle. Holmesburg is believed to have been named for John Holme, a distant cousin of Thomas Holme, Chief Surveyor-General for the Penn Family.

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