GeoHistory Resources

Topographical Plan of Fairmount Park, 1938

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Work Title:
Topographical Plan of Fairmount Park, 1938
Creator:
Works Progress Administration
Date:
1938
Description:
These forty map panels, executed under Works Progress Administration (WPA) Project No. 15054-1938, individually measure 50.5"x 24" using 1" to 50' as the scale. Drawn in 1938 and depicting the 4000 acres of East and West Fairmount Park excluding the 33 acres occupied by Philadelphia Zoological Garden, these panels represent one of the major efforts to comprehensively map Fairmount Park throughout its history. The other campaigns occurred in 1870 and 1983, respectively.

Following the establishment of the WPA in 1935, Fairmount Park benefited from an enhanced workforce. Motivated by the Roosevelt Administration's call for "human conservation" through physical recreation, park forces began designing and building outdoor sporting amenities. In parks throughout the system, crews built public shelters, amphitheaters, bathing lakes, comfort facilities, skating rinks, tennis courts, ballfields, golf courses, bicycle and bridle paths, locker rooms and club houses.

White collar workers such as surveyors, architects, archivists, and curators worked to produce architectural renderings, art catalogs, and this park map seen here.

These forty panels are hand-drawn in ink/watercolor on canvas-backed vellum and depict infrastructural features such as buildings, sculptures, roads, culverts, catch basins, and footpaths as well as natural landscape features such as trees and watercourses. Topographic contours are in 5' increments.

Thoroughly used by engineering staff, these drawings reflect ongoing changes in the landscape of Fairmount Park. Park engineers often made notes and sketches directly on them. Most noticeably is the 1950s addition of the Schuylkill Expressway applied in whitewash. Engineers plotted the road's course—along with on and offramps—from the Park's Belmont Offices to the Sweetbriar cutoff. Streams, roads, and statues are still visible beneath the whitewash.

Guide to Abbreviations:

T.P. -- Telephone pole
C.B. -- Catch basin
G.B. -- Guard Box
L.P. -- Light post
P.T.P. -- Park Trolley Post
M.H. -- Manhole
Notes for this Image:
Digital mosaic created from 40 separately scanned sections.
Source:
Geography (this work):
Philadelphia, PA (West)
Image File(s):
WPA1938.​jp2 (250.8 MB)