Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lost Bridge of the Week-- February 15th

Second Street Bridge "into the country about the Society Hill"

Spanning Little Dock Creek at approximately 314 South Second Street

The only picture of it is a close-up of a conjectural engraving of a conjectural drawing.
                       This little flash-in-the-pan of a bridge used to span Little Dock Creek. Little Dock Creek was a small tributary of Dock Creek that ran south down to a pond at what is now 9th and South Streets. Why talk about this little shitbird of a bridge? It was famous in its own time for what you could see when standing on it.
                      In the late 1700's, mega-bankerfinancier Stephen Girard had a problem. He had purchased a site on what is now the 300 block of South Second Street and wanted to build a row of houses... this was considered prime real estate because the best water pump in town was right nearby. Also, fruit trees and vegetable plants grew mysterious high and bountiful here. When the foundations were dug, a shitload of water and mud exploded out of the ground and stopped the whole operation.
                     This caused curiosity about what was going on under 178 S. 2nd St (now 314). Old people in the neighborhood started to recount tales about a natural spring that ran out of a hill just west of the old Second Street bridge. Back in the early 1700's, a small bridge, only half the width of the street, spanned Little Dock Creek and a little pond just to the West. From the bridge, one could get a nice view of the pond, which was known as Bathsheba's Spring and Bower or Bathsheba's Baths.
Conjectural-ass illustration of the view of the spring from the Second Street Bridge
                      One would think that the spring was named after the biblical Bathsheba, whose story is bath-related, but NO. The spring was named after a Swedish settler named Bathsheba Bower, an old spinster who loved the spring so much that she built a small house right next to it and maintained a small lounge for visitors there.
                     The spring became a local landmark. People started arranging the hill nearby into a little amphitheater that surrounded it and local religious leaders started preaching from the balcony of a building across the street. Some time in the mid-1700's, Little Dock Creek was tunneled over and the Second Street Bridge was gone (another Second Street Bridge just south of Walnut still stood for a while longer).
                     Eventually, future Brigadier General John Cadwalader took down the hill and built a double-wide rowhome there. The pond of the spring got filled in and Bathsheba's Baths became forgotten. It wasn't until decades later when Girard needed to drive pilings for the houses he built (that are still standing, BTW) that memories of the spring sprang forth again. The water pump nearby still drew from the spring until the late 19th Century.
                    Whomever lives at 314 S. 2nd Street needs to do some digging and find out if that spring is still under there somewhere. Philadelphia has a goddamn natural spring.

Bathsheba's Spring and Bower is somewhere under here. Image from Google.

1 comment:


    Just recently sold - and they didn't even have to hype the underground spring!