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

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Docomomo PHL To Host

Docomomo PHL To Host “Wake” For Modernist Store

June 18, 2018  |  News

Modernist architecture advocacy group will hold a demonstration to protest Philadelphia's historic preservation crisis. Michael Bixler has the details > more

The Rise, Fall, & Revival Of North Broad's Opera Palace

The Rise, Fall, & Revival Of North Broad’s Opera Palace

June 14, 2018  |  Vantage

Rob McClung takes us on a journey through the turbulent history and present reawakening of the mighty Metropolitan Opera House at Broad and Poplar > more

A Brief History Of Race & Contested Space In West Philly

A Brief History Of Race & Contested Space In West Philly

June 11, 2018  |  Vantage

Mariam Williams dives deep into the social evolution of Malcolm X Park to unearth the history of race and economics within a neighborhood space > more

Italian Market Project Puts Fresh Eyes On A Philly Staple

Italian Market Project Puts Fresh Eyes On A Philly Staple

June 8, 2018  |  Vantage

The Italian Market Project mixes a walking tour with Philly-accented theater in a fun, immersive experience. Mickey Herr has the details > more

Taking History To The Streets With Preservation Activism

Taking History To The Streets With Preservation Activism

June 6, 2018  |  Soapbox

Ali Roseberry-Polier discusses civil rights history, selective public memory, and why she created an historical marker for a Black female activist who challenged segregation in 19th century Philadelphia > more

A Buzzy New Beginning For Poth Brewing Company

A Buzzy New Beginning For Poth Brewing Company

June 4, 2018  |  Last Light

Before renovations begin, Michael Bixler takes us inside the remains of Poth Brewing Company with this photo essay > more