Cold Storage, Warm Light

October 17, 2011 | by Harry Byrne


The Philadelphia Warehousing and Cold Storage Co. on Delaware Avenue between Spring Garden and Noble Streets is best known for the massive United States flag mural on its south side, but its buildings are a marvel in their own right.  The company was founded in 1873, and once boasted what may have been the largest ice machine in the country.  Although there have been additions over the years, the buildings pictured in the 1891 Hexamer survey below are still identifiable.

Hexamer Survey, 1891

The company is still very much in business, unlike so many of its counterparts.  As Hidden City Daily contributor Harry Kyriakodis puts it in his his new book Philadelphia’s Lost Waterfront, these are “the city’s oldest and largest cold storage houses and represent the numerous long-demolished warehouses that used to line the central Philadelphia waterfront.”

Photos by Harry Byrne


About the Author

Harry Byrne Harry Byrne is a lawyer based in Bala Cynwyd, he is a past Chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Family Law Section, and an Articles/Comments editor of The Pennsylvania Family Lawyer. He has written and lectured extensively on family law topics. He began shooting pictures as a hobby about 5 years ago, is self taught, and enjoys shooting landscapes in the west of Ireland, as well as urban scenes around Philadelphia. His work can be seen here on flickr.


  1. Harry Kyriakodis says:

    hear, hear!

  2. Rachel Vickalitis says:

    Great article! My dad was the last one to close the doors to Philly Cold this month. Love reading about its history!

  3. Mark Melito says:

    I worked there for 36yrs asa Refrigeration mechanic and the last 16yrs as the Head Engineer,sad to see it go,it was the oldest Cold Storage Plant in North America,the Compressors i took care of were put in 1947still running like new

  4. Sandra Streeter says:

    My dad Samuel Streeter Sr. was the first African American to work at this establishment. He worked there for 33 years. He was loved by all. My dad passed away in March 2022. Each time I ride by the Warehouse, I remember the stories our dad shared with us about his friends who became like a family.During my dad’s illness he would asked if his job was still there. I didn’t realize it was sold until 4/30/22.

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