Steam Boats ~ Navy Yard ~ Ship US Pennsylvania

Steam Boat Landings, &c

Several Steam Boat Landings are established on the north and south side of the Landing at the front of Market Street and in the immediate vicinity of this location, north and south are numerous packet stations. Arch street Wharf, Chesnut, Walnut, Spruce, and Cedar Street wharves have been made into commodious Steam Boat Landings. At Callowhill and Almond street wharves. Steam Boats have occasional landings. From these positions. Steam Boats depart at stated times, for the various towns and villages in the vicinity of the Delaware River and the lines of communication north and south originate.

Launch of The U. S. Ship Pennsylvania

The launch of this great ship is referred to, as one of the leading events of this city: It took place, on the eighteenth of July 1837, a day well calculated, by its serenity and clearness, to give brilliancy to the circumstance, noticed more particularly at length in the following extract from the "Commercial Herald," (then) Edited by N. Sargent, Esq. published on the day after the Launch. "The noble Ship Pennsylvania the pride of our Navy and one of the largest ships in the world, if not the very largest, entered her destined element yesterday, at precisely half post two o'clock, amid the deafening cheers of at least one hundred thousand spectators. It was an animating, a majestic sight.

The river, for a great distance around, was covered with vessels, steam boats, and every variety of water craft, whose decks were crowded, and whose masts, shrouds and rigging were alive with people. Every tree, every post, every fence, every window, every roof which overlooked the scene, had its occupants.

Wherever we turned our eye, masses of human beings presented themselves.

At length the note of preparation is sounded; the ominous click of the hammer is heard every eye is riveted to a common centre every heart palpitates with anxious expectation, and now, after a delay, during which minutes seemed hours, and hours days, the signal guns are heard, a general move is made among the mass, the breath is held, not a word is spoken, the flag at the stem flutters, ''she moves! ''she moves!'* is heard, and lo! the huge, but beautiful structure walks forth, and descends slowly but majestically, to her element; and having entered gracefully, yet proudly rises, as if conscious of her high destiny, and looks down upon the surrounding craft, with dignified condescension and proud complacency. Immediately the shouts of the multitude are like the rushing of a mighty storm, land answering onto water, and water unto land; and the reverberations swell upon the air and roll upon the deep, mingled with the roar of cannon, announcing the event to distant parts. Not an accident has occurred to mar the scene, not a limb broken, nor a finger bruised.

And now, as the Leviathan of the Navy sits with the grace of a swan upon the waters, see the animating scene upon the river! Thousands of boats are darting to and fro, swarming round her like pigmies, lively pigmies, around a huge Titan. The river is alive, and recalls to recollection the graphic accounts of the annual marriage ceremony on the Adriatic at Venice. Nothing can be more beautiful or exhilarating; would that our pen were a pencil, that we might present this scene of life to the gratified eye of our reader, in all its freshness, its variety, its constantly varying phases; the task is, however, beyond our powers; ours would be a picture wanting the breath of vitality, the spirit stirring animation, the feverish excitement of reality:

But we must not lose sight of the all absorbing object, the noble Pennsylvania, the worthy daughter of the Keystone State, the future defender of our Country's honor, and her proud and lofty representative, in distant seas. There she is and what American heart does not beat with a quicker throb, and warm with a more ardent patriotism as he looks upon her graceful towering form, and sees her in his mind's eye, annihilating with her thunders those who shall have dared to offer an insult to our flag, and commanding respect, and awing enmity, wherever her pennon flutters in the breeze, and her dauntless prow breasts the deep. Long may she continue to be an object of affection to Pennsylvanians, of pride to Americans and of terror to our enemies, should it be be our misfortune to have them.

We cannot but repeat, that as a matter of the most sincere granulation, not an accident of any kind, which we have yet heard of, happened to dampen the general joy manifested on the occasion. This is attributable in no small degree, to the admirable and skillful arrangements of the officers of the yard, and the Naval architect, Mr. Humphries, who had everything in his department prepared, in the most complete and judicious manner possible. The ship, in going off her ways, moved with the ease and silence of a mere jolly boat, though with the resistless force of an avalanche.

We do not recollect of ever having seen so large an assemblage of people, except upon one occasion perhaps not even then; we allude to the entry of ''The Nation's Guest,'' the good Lafayette, into New York, on his arrival in this country in 1824. It is said, that at least Forty Thousand persons have arrived in this city within three or four days past. These were probably all present and every man woman and child in the city, who could go, turned out The number present, therefore, could not have been short of One Hundred Thousand. It is estimated that there were at least Three Hundred vessels and boats upon the river and we saw both shores lined with people, as far as the eye could reach.

Dimensions

The Masts of the Pennsylvania tower to about the height of Two Hundred and fifty feet; and from her flying jib-boom to the end of the spanker-boom, is over three Hundred and seventy-five feet: Her Main-Yard measures about One Hundred and Twenty feet; her heaviest Anchor weighs about Ten Thousand Pounds. She has three Gun Decks, a Spar and Orlop Deck; and is pierced for One Hundred and Forty Guns.

As a specimen of Naval Architecture, in which the choicest live Oak, White Oak, and Yellow Pine, are judiciously combined, she may well be, the pride of Naval Architecture, and particularly that of America.

Philadelphia Navy Yard

The Navy Yard is situated upon the Banks of the River Delaware, below the City, at the Southern extremity of Swanson Street. The grounds embrace about twelve acres, enclosed by a high and substantial brick wall. The various Buildings in the yard are, the Officer's residences; Quarters for the marines and soldiers; workshops, and other structures, growing out of naval operations. The largest building in the view is the one, in which, the ship of war, "Pennsylvania," was constructed: It is Two Hundred and Seventy feet in length, Eighty-Four feet in width, and One Hundred and Three feet in height.

In another large ship-house, there is now, upon the stocks a Forty-four Gun Frigate, which has been several years in progress. In the elegant Prints, published by Mr. Bowen, the view of the Navy Yard, represents the River Delaware, covered with the shipping, from a point below the Navy Yard, extending up as far as Kensington, which is dimly traced in the distance. Windmill Island, where the pirates were hung, many years since, is also seen, opposite the heart of the city, while the shore of Camden beyond is partially seen, at distant points.

Efforts are now making, to procure the establishment of a Dry Dock, in connection with the Philadelphia Navy Yard, which, it is to be hoped, may finally prove successful, as the interests of the Merchant and the Navy, would be eminently advanced by such a work.

This station is now, under the command of the gallant Commodore Stewart, whose laurels have shed luster, upon Pennsylvania, the State of his nativity.

In reviewing the interior of the Navy Yard, the rows of massy Ordinance, the store-houses for ship timber, the mast sheds, and the smitheries, &c. cannot escape the attention of connoisseurs in Naval Architecture. Some pieces of cannon, of both brass and iron, trophies from our enemies, bearing the insignia of foreign powers, will attract the attention of the curious observer.

Ship Building

The Mechanical skill of the Philadelphia Ship Builders is well known, throughout the United States, and the beautiful Merchant and Packet Ships, which now, form the Lines of connexion with Europe, and other quarters of the world, add not a little, to their fame, as well as display the skill, of our ship-masters and navigators.

 

History of Philadelphia


Source: A History of Philadelphia: With a Notice of Villages, in the Vicinity, Printed and published by Daniel Bowen, 1839


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