Turbines to Tanks


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  • Works for why am I studying Philadelphia Aquarium and why did Philadelphia get an AquariumDepartment of Fisheries (1903)NE statesNew York (1868)New Jersey, Alabama, Virginia and California (all before 1872)
  • Son of Thomas Meehan – who helped restore Bartram’s Garden, owned a nursery and was a botanist1885- natural history/ science journalist1892- basically the naturalist on the expedition
  • Live fish were the main exhibit- three different railway cars were sent with fish (first two loads died completely because of lime and aluminum in the water as well as high water temps) 35 tanks
  • Pennsylvania’s Fish Exhibition at the Chicago Columbian Exposition, 1893
  • Water works had been shut down since 1909
  • You can have the tanksOrdinance March 16, 1911Tanks stored at zoo1,500 to begin with
  • 4 inch pipe for fresh water when aquarium opens- have to rip this out and put in a 6 inch pipe. 120,000 gallons a day to 150,000 gallons a day.
  • Artesian well 1925 –
  • Eventually McCormack and company. Take on water as bilge in Gulf of Mexico and drops it off at the dock.Shedd uses railroad.
  • Philly ends up with three water system- warm and cold fresh water, warm salt water.
  • DonatedAlso goldfish from aquarist groups
  • Employs an animal dealerHe asks for 12-
  • Shares them- with other aquariums (NY, Million Dollar Pier, etc.)
  • Catches own… has permits for every surrounding state
  • Gets it from hatcheries
  • Wayne county hatchery #4
  • Go to the hatcheries
  • Next slide: Key West
  • Go on a long distance fishing expeditionMowbray (New York Aquarium)- 1916 first partners with NYA and Detroit, 1925 we get our own
  • Could be Robert O. Van Deusen?
  • Previous to 1926
  • None of these aquariums chargeAll of them are open every dayPhiladelphia Aquarium allows us to see the negotiations an aquarium had to make What’s special about Philly AquariumOperating budgetBuildingSlow progress
  • Turbines to Tanks

    1. 1. Turbines to Tanks: The Early Days of the Philadelphia Aquarium at the Fairmount Water Works Samantha Muka PhD Candidate University of Pennsylvania History and Sociology of Science
    2. 2. Why Philadelphia?• One of the first states with a Fisheries Department – Pennsylvania Fish Commission(1866)• Strong Network of People Interested in Fish – Henry Fowler; Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences – William T. Innes; Publisher/Hobbyist/ Fish Photographer – Fish Commission and Fisherman on the Delaware
    3. 3. St .L ou i sE26 xp 6, os 44 iti 8 Op en on i ng of35 t he 2, 70 9 M Gr ar af in f sM eH al an lF sio in n Fr i sh Fr es ed es h wa hw at te rH e rA21 2, ou qu 60 8 Ar s e ar iu te Fin m sia n ish W ed el ld Ph r il le il a d de be lp lo hi w30 a W 0, M at 54 1 M us er ee eu m W ha or Philadelphia Aquarium at Fairmount Park Timeline n of Ar ks Re /m40 tir to ak 0, 39 es ;V pe e 5 ns ow an in n De cu tri us rre p en nt to82 Ke 2, su lo yW 29 pe ca 6 rin tio es te n t nd en98 6, t 68 3 1904 1911 1916 1921 1925 1928 1930 1931 1932 1933
    4. 4. William E. Meehan 1853-1930• Son of Thomas Meehan – a wellknown botanist and horticulturist inPhiladelphia (Germantown)•First went into cut flower supplybusiness•In 1885 became reporter for the“Public Ledger” a PhiladelphiaNewspaper•Traveled as reporter/botanist toGreenland with the Perry ReliefExpedition of 1892•Interviewed Superintendent ofFisheries (Henry C. Ford); writesdefinitive history of PA fisheries forColumbian Exposition, 1893•After Ford’s death, appointedsuperintendent of Fisheries andeventually Commissioner•Resigned in 1911- The same yearhe became Superintendent of thePhiladelphia Aquarium at FairmountPark
    5. 5. 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair
    6. 6. Lambert, James The story of Pennsylvania at the Worlds Fair St. Louis, 1904, Vol. II
    7. 7. Meehan, William E. Fish, Fishes and Fisheries of Pennsylvania 1893
    8. 8. Why does Philadelphia Need an Aquarium?• Public Education – People love looking at live fish!• Nothing at the Water Works – Water source readily available – Equipment can be sold to pay for start up money• Fisheries Purposes – Hatchery – Laboratory• Government Interests – Fur Seals
    9. 9. We’re not New York City…We’re Better!• Fisheries Bureau established in 1868 (two years after PA)• Strong Fish Culture – American Museum of Natural History – Brooklyn Aquarists Society (1905)• Aquarium opens in Battery Park in 1896• This is the largest, most talked about aquarium in America by the turn of the twentieth century• If they can do it, we can do it…better.
    10. 10. Start of Philadelphia Aquarium• April 22, 1905• March 16, 1911• Use tanks from St.Louis World’s Fair• Sell water worksequipment for money• Temporary Aquarium •32 tanks •All freshwater fishes •Alligators •turtles
    11. 11. Opens Nov. 24, 191110,000 Visit New Park Aquarium To Rave Reviews!November 25, 1911City’s Display Opened to the Public Proves a Big Attraction Display to Be Increased More than ten thousand persons sought admission to the PhiladelphiaAquarium in Fairmount Park, which is located at the old water worksbetween the Green Street entrance of the Park and the Spring GardenStreet bridge over the Schuylkill River. It opened to the publicyesterday, and when the doors were closed on account of darkness there When the other sections of the aquariumwere scores of disappointed ones unable to get a look in at thefishes. are completed, Mr. Meehan will addThe picture of pleasure on the faces of those who passed within theaquarium told forcefully that the display had met their expectation. It tanks for snails, lobsters, crawfish andwas a great day for sportsmen, fish culturists and lovers of fish, who camein groups from Bucks, Lehigh and Montgomery Counties. So deep crabs. In the two other buildings whichis the interest in Bucks County in the aquarium that a delegation fromCamp 53, of Doylestown, was present, many of the members having will not be ready for two months, the fishtheir wives and little ones with them. from the mansion room will be exhibitedHappy Days for MeehanIt was a happy day for William E. Meehan, in charge of the aquarium, who along with other varieties in a total ofhas devoted a great portion of his life to the study and propagationof fish, and the more the crowd increased in numbers, the more he 120 additional tanks. It is Mr. Meehan’sseemed to appreciate that the city had pursued a course that met withthe approval of the people. The doors opened at nine o’clock, and from intention just as soon as funds willthen until one o’clock only several hundred visitors passed in, butafter that hour they came by the hundred from various points in the Park. warrant to establish in the back part ofLawyers, physicians, merchants, manufacturers, mechanics and the forebay between the pumpinglaborers, representing the thrifty industrial classes, lined up and movedalong side by side. station and the reservoir one of theJudge George B. Orlady, of the Superior Court, accompanied by James F.McLaughlin, chief of the Electrical Bureau, was one of the visitors. largest pools for seals in the country.The Judge, a fisherman and hunter from his boyhood days in themountains in the central part of the State, was delighted and took Part of the station nearest to thepleasurein telling others of the different kinds of fish that each tank contained. Schuylkill also will be utilized for saltMonster Catfish water fish. The salt water will be broughtA freak catfish caught recently in the Delaware was the star attractionamong the individual fish and delayed the passing of the line longer from the ocean in tanks.perhaps than all the fish put together. Though like a catfish in shape, hiscolor turned a milked white huge with pink eyes and fins. Meehan says heis one of the Albino family so numerous decades ago on the coast ofPortugal.
    12. 12. Opens Nov. 24, 1911Dear Madam: to poor reviews Philadelphia being my home city, I naturally dislike to constantly hear the unkind flings of New Yorkers at my birthplace of which I have many reasons to be proud. I had an experience, however, yesterday that I think on investigation at your doorway almost, you will be glad to see shall not occur to another visitor from New York. I had read of the new Public Aquarium recently established at the old Fairmount Water Works, and having visited the splendid Aquarium here, I went to see what Philadelphia has to exhibit. Of course I was prepared to make all due allowance for the exhibition being new, expected a start in a small way, but my pride was unnecessarily hurt by what I encountered, and being a woman, I concluded the helpmate of our new and justly honored Mayor should know of it. I doubt not in good time the approach down the lane will have a side walk that couples can pass on without one side-stepping into the gutter, but when you step onto the platform leading to the left, to the Aquarium building, you will encounter dirt, ashes and litter disgusting to any tidy housewife. There was no excuse for this condition on such a sunshiny, beautiful day, for the janitor and a broom could have corrected it in half an hour. At risk of my skirts and Sunday shoes, I crossed the long, dirty approach and reached the door over which was the sign “public aquarium”. Around the sides and down the middle were the usual glass cases containing minnows, perch, sun fish, bass, cat-fish, trout, four little alligators and lots of mud turtles. I almost forgot to mention the lone bull-frog. This was all right too for a starter, but the brown painted, unsightly boards skirting the top, with the poorly executed pen and ink printed descriptive cards, certainly gave one the impression that Philadelphia had gone economy mad. Any other Philadelphia typewriter girl would be glad to supplant these poor house cards, if no public spirited printer be willing to present properly printed ones. I am sure you have not paid a visit to the Public aquarium, but I wish you would, and put a flea in your husband’s ear.
    13. 13. April 2, 1913 Agitator- local newspaperSir- I am a Philadelphia born and bred, and asagitation appears to be the order of the day Iherewith start some.Entering the Fairmount Park at CallowshillStreet I shortly pass into an aquarium, housedin a dingy, ramshackle building that has notproperly been touched up during the last 40years. The aquarium is not a huge joke it issimply a small joke- and to my uninstructedmind is a positive farce for a city likePhiladelphia to ask its people to go to. Afterviewing the small uninteresting fish display Istrolled northward through, or rather by, somebuildings that reminds one of the ruins ofPompeii, for of all the disreputable shacksallowed to stand and offend the eye the oldwater works are the limit. I can rememberthem away back 40 or more years ago and Iwonder if any paint or repairs have beenadded to them in that time.
    14. 14. St .L ou i sE26 xp 6, os 44 iti 8 Op en on i ng of35 t he 2, 70 9 M Gr ar af in f sM eH al an lF sio in n Fr i sh Fr es ed es h wa hw at te rH e rA21 2, ou qu 60 8 Ar s e ar iu te Fin m sia n ish W ed el ld Ph r il le il a d de be lp lo hi w30 a W 0, M at 54 1 M us er ee eu m W ha or Philadelphia Aquarium at Fairmount Park Timeline n of Ar ks Re /m40 tir to ak 0, 39 es ;V pe e 5 ns ow an in n De cu tri us rre p en nt to82 Ke 2, su lo yW 29 pe ca 6 rin tio es te n t nd en98 6, t 68 3 1904 1911 1916 1921 1925 1928 1930 1931 1932 1933
    15. 15. G. Ralph Smith, WPA 1930sDrawing of Aquarium, 1950s
    16. 16. Funding issues from the beginning• money from selling of water works equipment is tied up – $1,500 from initial sale comes through but rest of money not forthcoming – Eventually get money in fits and starts But, the work that needs to be done totransform Turbines into Tanks is extensive and expensive…
    17. 17. A building not meant for an Aquarium June 30, 1914 I have to report that this morning while the men who are delivering the boilers endeavored to cross the forebay bridge, they smashed two-thirds of the South railing, most of it falling into the forebay. They also smashed nearly one- half the northern railing.
    18. 18. And it’s old
    19. 19. Sept. 24, 1915 My dear Dr. Townsend- Enclosed please find my personal check for $250.00 in payment of the share of the fishes, for the Fairmount Park Aquarium, collected at Key West. I placed your receipted bill among my personal incidental expenses. That enabled me to have the money in my own warrant and pay you a week or two quicker than otherwise would have been the case. I am sorry to say we are in a pretty bad mess.Our money has suddenly given out and I only have glass enough for one side of the SeaWater House and that I expect to start and put in next week so that it will be two or threeweeks yet before I can send for the fishes. I think it only fair that we should pay for thekeep as they are virtually in storage in your place and I would suggest that you keep aseparate account of the cost of the food that they require. I will try and get over some daynext week to see you.
    20. 20. October 19, 1915Sir:Owing to the lack of funds, you arehereby notified that any workperformed by you for theCommissioners of Fairmount Park isdone at your own risk, until thepending appropriation is made byCouncils.Yours Truly,J.T. VogdesChief EngineerYou will read this notice to all men onyour roll.
    21. 21. Eventually, we have tanks• Marine Hall finished in1916 •25 stationary tanks around the walls •8 all glass tanks in the center •Contains largest fish tank in the United States• Main Hall finished in1922 • 43 tanks• Large Seal “pool”outside
    22. 22. So let’s put in the water! Fresh Water Salt Water• Source • Source – Schulykill River – Off the coast of New York or New – City Water Jersey• Temperature – Open Ocean – Warm water for some fishes • Temperature • Bass, catfish, bluegill, sunfish – Warm water for some – Cool water for others • Fishes collected in Key West- angel fish, guppies, clown fish, etc. • Salmon, herring, whitefish – Cool water for others• Flow • Any kind of North Atlantic variety – Oxygenation of water of salt water fish extremely important to health • Salinity of fish – How often do you change it? • Cold water vs. warm water – How much can you dilute it?
    23. 23. Fresh Water• Schuylkill water does not sustain a lot of fish varieties – Different species need different water – Pollution• City filtered water works for most species but… – de chlorinated with filters – Need a proper flow to keep it oxygenated and clean – Heated or cooled depending on the season • Heating system • Cooling system (ice)
    24. 24. Cooling System
    25. 25. Salt Water• Berlin Aquarium (1869) uses artificial saltwater, but most aquariums think that the fish do not like it.• New York Aquarium has used the same salt water for almost 20 years (1896). Just mix in new water to keep salinity constant. – After using water off the coast of NY, they decide to use open ocean water and suggest that Philly do the same
    26. 26. We have water!• Warm fresh water – City water supply – 1919 4 inch pipe replaced with 6 inch; from 130,000 gallons a day to over 150,000 gallons a day• Cold fresh water – Artesian well drilled 1926 – Filter added 1927 because of iron content• Warm salt water – 1916 first delivery of salt water from gulf ($) – 1920 Moore & McCormack Steamship Company delivers salt water to Philadelphia docks for free-
    27. 27. Let’s add displays… June 21, 1914 Dear Sir: We are sending you tomorrow by Adams Express from Newport, NY, a large and very fine specimen of Sea Turtle. Will arrive in Philadelphia Monday evening. If you will kindly arrange for delivery on Monday night or early Tuesday morning, it will be a relief to the animal. Yours Truly, A.H. Allen
    28. 28. Apr. 19, 1914 I am preparing for my usual Spring seal business. I thought I would drop you a line to see if you wished any seals from the ParkAnd if so, to kindly let me knowas soon as possible.Respectfully,Janet MacDonald
    29. 29. Sept. 18, 1915 Yours of the 16th received. I will be on the lookout for the seals and will be glad to receive them. Do you keep your Aquarium during the winter? If not, instead of releasing the fish in your tanks, if you have no use for them I will be very glad to have them, and possibly next summer, when you open up I might be able to let you have something that you do not posses and cannot get in return.If you do not carry your fish and turning them over to me meets with your approval, Iwould, of course, send the can for them and pay all express charges.
    30. 30. Report of the Department of Fisheries, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1910-1911
    31. 31. Wayne County Hatchery #4
    32. 32. I have a very peculiar case of fatality amongone special species of fish- the pearl roach orGerman rudd-the source of which I havebeen unable to identify.Perhaps some six weeks ago, out of about 25or 30 pearl roach on exhibition, one suddenlydarted to the surface, then slightly turnedover. For an hour or more, nothing abnormalhappened, then it repeated the performance.
    33. 33. October 26, 1918There were received 663 fishof which 354 were sea and309 fresh water fish. Thedeaths were 454 of which167 were sea water and 287fresh water fish. Nearly onehundred of the deathsamong the sea water fishwas due to an unavoidableaccident one night and theexcess deaths of fresh waterfish was due to a shortage ofboth supply and pressure inthe month of June.
    34. 34. Seals and Sea Lions
    35. 35. We have sustainable displays• Fresh Water – Hatcheries – Caught by aquarium staff – Donated/shared• Salt Water – 1916 Key West trips with Boston, New York and Detroit (Mowbray heads expedition with NYA funds) – 1925 Aquarium takes its own trips (Van Deusen)Fish fatalities become less and less as the aquarium stafflearns to take care of the exhibits. (or, at least, theydon’t make the same mistake twice)
    36. 36. City La Jolla, CA New York, NY Detroit, MC Philadelphia, PA Scripps New York Belle Isle Fairmount Park Institution Aquarium Aquarium AquariumOwned by University of City City City CaliforniaControlled by Regents of the New York Zoological Department of Parks Fairmount Park University Society and Boulevards CommissionWhen opened 1916 Dec. 10, 1896 1904 Nov. 24, 1922, complete*Annual Maintenance --- $70,000 $28,000 $30,453Cost Exhibition tanks 19 89 58 114 Linear Feet glass 72 455 280 511permanent wall tanks Number of exhibits 1,350 3,700 4,837 2,749 (1927) fishes 1,300 2,700 4,600 2,438 mammals none 2 4 none Persons employed 3 29 6 (and 4 part time) 21 *Tropical House opened June 15, 1915; temporary aquarium opened Nov. 24, 1911 Compiled by Ida M. Mellen (1927) for NYA and published in The Public Aquarium: Its construction, equipment, and management Charles H. Townsend: Bureau of Fisheries Document No. 1045, 1928
    37. 37. Acknowledgements• Director Karen Young and Ellen Schultz Education and Outreach Coordinator- Water Works Interpretive Center• Adam Young- Archivist and Paul Fugazzatto- Public Relations- Philadelphia Water Department Archives• Rob Armstrong- Fairmount Park Archives• David Baugh- Philadelphia City Archives• Archivists at the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia Museum of Natural History, Franklin Institute , the Temple Urban Archives• History and Sociology of Science; University of Pennsylvania
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