Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Brickmaking and Brickmakers

Brick Skyline

A color painting of Philadelphia from a distance. The background contains images of row homes and buildings that made up Philadelphia in the early seventeen-hundreds. The foreground is water and has more than fifteen sailboats in a variety of sizes.

Bricks defined the appearance of early Philadelphia, portrayed c. 1718. (Library Company of Philadelphia)

Library Company of Philadelphia

The coloring of early Philadelphia, as seen in The South East Prospect of the City of Philadelphia, attests to the availability of clay and industry of brickmakers in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The c. 1718 oil painting by Peter Cooper, twenty inches high and seven feet, three inches long, depicts the city and its port from the perspective of the opposite side of the Delaware River in New Jersey. When George M. Dallas, Minister to Great Britain, donated the painting to the the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1857, he reported that a member of the British Parliament had found it in the rubbish of a London curiosity shop.

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