East Falls Timeline


From a Native American fishing village to East Falls, Philadelphia:

Pre 1600’s – 1775 (ish) Lenni Lenape tribes settle villages along the “Ganshewahanna” (meaning “noisy river”)
1660 — Oldest house in Philadelphia, “Boelsen Cottage” built on West River Drive

1668 — Grist Mill erected at mouth of Wissahickon, on grounds of Philadelphia Canoe Club
1677 -1680 — Garret Garrettson (a Swede) buys land from the Lenni Lenape to build a one-room log cabin at Vaux and Ainslie
1682 — Richard Townsend builds first mill on the Wissahickon
1685 — Second-oldest house in Philadelphia, the Rittenhouse homestead, is built along the Wissahickon
1686 — Provincial Council of Pennsylvania orders construction of the “King’s Highway” following
the existing Native American trail from Philadelphia to Trenton NJ, part of which is now Lincoln Drive
1686 – 1689 — Robinson Mills built at Ridge Ave and the Wissahickon
1689 — William Penn Charter School founded
1690 — Ridge Road and “Rocks Burrow” established as prime farming & milling locations
1695 — One-room house of Kelpius the Mystic built for the “Ridge Hermits” of Hermit Lane
1730’s — Heyday of stagecoach travel on Ridge Road, “The Great Road from Philadelphia to Reading”
1731 — The Falls Tavern opens at the foot of Indian Queen Lane and Ridge Ave
1732 — First fishery in East Fall built “Fort St. David”
1777 — Battle of Germantown
Continental Army camps land where hill of Queen Lane Reservoir now stands
Lafayette sets up headquarters in McMichael Park
1802 — Ravenhill estate built for pharmaceutical tycoon William Weightman
1811 — Ridge Road paved
1819 — William Smith donates land for Carfax Building on Indian Queen for education and religious services
1834 — Philadelphia rowing clubs begin to hold regattas
The first train passes through East Falls on its way to Manayunk
1835 — Laurel Hill Cemetery is chartered
1842 — The Philadelphia & Reading Railway opens, providing transport of hard coal from Schuylkill County’s anthracite fields to the city’s harbors
1846 — Nations first iron railroad bridge opens on the Philadelphia & Reading near Manayunk
1848 — Powers, Weightman & Harrison Chemical Company opens its doors on Ridge Avenue
1850 — Female Medical College is formed by group of male Quaker reformers to educate women as doctors
1851 — Cornerstone laid for Falls of Schuylkill Baptist Church
The “Old Yellow Schoolhouse” aka Forest School is erected
1852 — Pittsburgh & Philadelphia are linked by rail & inclined planes (travel time: 3 ½ days)
1853 — Cornerstone laid for St. Bridget Church
1855 — Dobson Mills is built on Scotts Lane
1857 — German stone mason Henry Becker opens Becker Brewery in Dutch Hollow
(area between Henry and Ridge, along & around Indian Queen Lane)
1868 — The Mason’s building on Ridge completed
. Known then as an International Order of Odd Fellows Lodge (Falls of Schuylkill Lodge, Number 467 )
1870 — Jacob Hohenadel takes over Becker’s Brewery, renames it Falls Park Brewery
1872 — Dobson Mills destroyed by Fairmount Park Commission
East Falls Methodist Episcopal Church completed
1875 — Ridge Avenue Farmers’ Market built (a brick & brownstone one-story since demolished)
1878 — Arnholt & Goldbeck families establish Philadelphia Brewing Company in Dutch Hollow
James Dobson builds “Bella Vista” mansion designed by famed Philly architect Samuel Sloan
(on present-day grounds of Abbortsford Homes)
“Gale of ’78” slams East Coast, causing $2 million of damage in Philadelphia alone (a huge sum in 1878)
1884 — Philadelphia Textile School aka Philadelphia University founded in Spring Garden
1894 — Hohenadel Brewery (aka Falls Brewery) opens at Conrad and Indian Queen Lane
1895 — Falls Bridge completed, linking East Falls to West Fairmount Park
1902 — The 15-foot Lenni-Lenape statue is hauled by workhorses to its current site in the Wissahickon
(erroneously believed to be Chief Tedyuscung, but actually just a random warrior in an
historically inaccurate Western Plains war bonnet)
1913 — Falls of Schuylkill Branch library opens
Dedication of Lincoln Highway aka Route 1
1914 — Daniel Carstairs commissions “White Corners” residence at Henry & Schoolhouse
1919 — William Weightman’s daugher, Anne (at one time the world’s richest woman), deeds
Ravenhill to the Religious of the Assumption, who open a private Catholic girls’ school
1920 — Big band heartthrob Harry Prime is born above what is now Epicure Cafe in East Falls
1923 — Old Academy Players established in East Falls
1929 — Grace Kelly is born to Jack & Margaret Kelly
McMichael Park established, named for former mayor of Philadelphia
1930 — Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania relocates to East Falls (from Center City)
1932 — Inn Yard Park dedicated by Fairmount Park Commission
1933 — East Falls train station opens on Cresson Street
1936 –Thomas Mifflin School built & named for PA’s first governor and East Falls resident
1941 — John Hohenadel and John B. Kelly fund expansions to Old Academy building (for Grace Kelly’s stage debut)
1941  “Bella Vista” torn down  (the only remnant of this estate is Chestnut Hill Coffee in the estate’s former gatehouse on the grounds of the old medical school)
1942 — Philadelphia Textile School aka Philadelphia University relocates from center city to its present home in East Falls
1947 — John B Kelly Jr (Grace’s brother) wins Sullivan Award for “outstanding amateur athlete in the United States”
1953 — Hohenadel Brewery closes for business

1956 — Grace Kelly weds Prince Rainier of Monaco
John B. Kelly Jr takes bronze medal for single scull rowing in the Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia
1982 — Grace Kelly suffers a stroke while driving in Monaco, and dies at the wheel
1997 — Ruins of Hohenadel Brewery demolished
2005 — Women’s Medical Hospital closes
2011 — Playground opens at Inn Yard Park

6 thoughts on “East Falls Timeline

  1. Hello, To what train station are you referring that was opened on Cresson in 1933? I am thinking the East Falls Depot which opened in 1912?

    1. To clarify my question: There is evidence that the Depot was being built in 1912. Did it take that long to open?

      1. Hi: Sorry for the delayed reply. The 1933 date is mentioned on page 44 of “East Falls: 300 Years of History”–“The present station wasn’t built until 1933, when the Warden estate purchased the land from the Wiehle estate. The property was generously donated to the railroad as a site for the East Falls station.” I dug around a bit more–based on photos of both the Depot and the EF Train Station on the EFHS site (http://eastfallshistoricalsociety.com/gallery/building-photographs/) the two buildings seem to be completely different. However, the caption below the EF Station photo says “completed 1913,” so the 1933 date is questionable. The 300 Years book does have some inconsistencies and I think this may be one, after looking at a 1925 atlas image. There is quite clearly an East Falls Station on the map. http://www.philageohistory.org/rdic-images/view-image.cfm/BRM1925.NorthPhila.010.Plate07 Here’s another atlas image from 1901 showing a coal yard on the same ground. Would make sense to build a depot there. Whether the Depot and the EF Station are one and the same is hard to say, but the dates are far closer than the EF 300 Years book suggests.

    1. Sadly, not this year. Hohenadel’s owner has said she’d like to do a house party 2, but she’s been busy with other projects this year (as have we). Maybe next year. We certainly loved doing it and would jump at the chance if things work out.

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