Look Down!

 

Former Cummings Coal building | Photo: Ehtan Wallace

Former Cummings Coal building | Photo: Ehtan Wallace

Down below the suddenly hot Reading Viaduct: a small, nondescript building, with only the faint “Cummings Coal” spelled out next to the door (thanks to Lawrence O’Toole’s Ghost Sign Project for deciphering the words).

The Edwin J. Cummings Coal building pictured here appears to be in the same location as the current “Cummings Coal” building. Perhaps a second floor was added at a later date

This is the last vestige from the days when coal yards dominated the landscape along the Viaduct, particularly along Callowhill Street. Coal was essential to the economic success of the Philadelphia & Reading. Indeed, without coal there may not have been a Viaduct–the P&R was specifically built to bring anthracite from the coal region down to Philadelphia.

Coal dealers, north side of Callowhille Street

The treasure trove of tools and coal and railroad memorabilia shown in the photo essay at the top dates back to Cummings Coal days. It’s likely the objects, which were left in the building after the rest of the coal yard was turned into a parking lot decades ago, were collected by the current owners, a family that has owned the land for generations. The family hopes one day to restore the structure for future use as a restaurant or retail space, and incorporate many of these items in the renovation.

Photo: Ethan Wallace

About the author

Ethan Wallace attended Temple University, where he received a BA in Communications. He has always been interested in the forgotten, unknown, or unseen parts of the city and has spent the last several years photographing Philly’s hidden and vanishing locations. He is also involved with the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem, Pa. More of Ethan's photography can be seen HERE

Send a message!



No Comments


Trackbacks

  1. Coal History in the Loft District
  2. ABOUT COAL | viaductgreene blog
  3. ABOUT COAL – VIADUCTgreene
Recent Posts
Then And Now: North Broad And Lehigh

Then And Now: North Broad And Lehigh

May 22, 2015  |  Then & Now, Vantage

The square block at North Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue has been a bit worse for wear for decades. Though, with recent, high-stakes investment North of City Hall, that may soon change, returning the area to its former glory when the Philadelphia Phillies claimed the block for their first home stadium, Baker Bowl. Jennifer Rogers brings it all back with her series, Then and Now > more

Indego Goes Well

Indego Goes Well

May 22, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Indego’s first month by the numbers, spot zoning fears in Andorra, finding your way through East Passyunk, and vacant land in Fishtown being developed > more

Planning Commission Fails To Recommend Empowering Bill For New Holmesburg Prison

Planning Commission Fails To Recommend Empowering Bill For New Holmesburg Prison

May 21, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Debating land usage on the Northeast’s waterfront, Temple inks deal for advanced dentistry equipment and technology, PAFA renovations, and why the Streets Department doesn’t bury those utility boxes > more

Replacing The Boyd

Replacing The Boyd

May 20, 2015  |  News

As the Boyd Theatre's demolition crawls along, plans for its replacement, along with redevelopment of 1900 Chestnut Street, go to the Historical Commission on Tuesday for final approval. Brad Maule reports > more

Beyond The Blue Bin: On The Floor Of Citywide Curbside Recycling

Beyond The Blue Bin: On The Floor Of Citywide Curbside Recycling

May 20, 2015  |  Vantage

Ever wonder what happens to those plastic bottles and cardboard boxes after they leave your blue bin? Hidden City's Michael Bixler ventures deep into Philadelphia's curbside recycling machine in Grays Ferry > more

Wagner Celebrates 150 Years With

Wagner Celebrates 150 Years With “Philadelphia 1865: A City On The Edge” Lecture And Cake Competition

May 19, 2015  |  Buzz

The Wagner Free Institute of Science observes its 150 year anniversary this month with a lecture and birthday cake competition to commemorate the building's enduring legacy > more