Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Slavery and the Slave Trade

The London Coffee House

lithograph of the London Coffee House

A slave auction block is visible in the scene of the London Coffee House, Front and Market Streets. (Library Company of Philadelphia)

Library Company of Philadelphia

This lithograph by Kennedy & Lucas depicts the London Coffee House as it stood in 1830. Once located at the southwest corner of Front and Market Streets in Philadelphia, the London Coffee House was more than just a place to get a drink. Owned by printer and entrepreneur William Bradford, the London Coffee House served as a center for economic transactions in early Philadelphia. In this image an auction block with slaves standing upon it is visible outside the Coffee House. For colonial Philadelphians, this would have been a common sight. The first slaves arrived in Pennsylvania in 1684 when the Isabella docked and disembarked slaves not far from the London Coffee House. The sale of human beings was just one of the many routine business transactions at the Coffee House.

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