Jewelers' Row, Philadelphia

Jewelers' Row, Philadelphia

Jewelers' Row is in the Center City section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is the oldest diamond district in America, and only second in size to the row in New York City. It also features the longest continuously operating shop, wholesaler I. Gansky and Co., which dates back to 1851. There are more than 300 retailers, wholesalers, and craftsmen on Sansom Street, between Seventh and Eighth streets, and on Eighth Street between Chestnut and Walnut streets. Many of the retailers, craftsmen and appraisers have been owned by the same families for five generations.

History

Jeweler’s Row (Carstairs Row) was designed by builder and architect Thomas Carstairs [ [http://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/ar_display.cfm/23000 Carstairs, Thomas (1759?-1830) - Philadelphia Architects and Buildings ] ] circa 1799 through 1820, for developer William Sansom, as part of the first speculative housing developments in the United States, and introduction of the Row house in the United States. [ [http://www.brynmawr.edu/cities/courses/05-306/proj2/ab2/Developers.htm Untitled Document ] ] Carstairs Row was built on the southern part of the site occupied by "Morris' Folly" – Robert Morris’ unfinished mansion designed by L'Enfant. [http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/declaration/bio33.htm National Park Service - Signers of the Declaration (Robert Morris) ] ]

Sansom bought (at sheriff's sale) the property and unfinished house of Robert Morris, on Walnut St. between 7th and 8th Sts. Sansom bi-sected the land with a new east-west eponymous street. Carstairs purchased the south side of Sansom St. and erected 22 look-alike dwellings. Prior to this time houses had been built not in rows, but individually. It can be contrasted with Elfreth's Alley where all the house are of varying heights and widths, with different street lines, doorways and brickwork.

The grid pattern laid down by William Penn, and continued by subsequent planners and surveyors heavily influenced the row house form of architecture. The block-long row house is an important example of Philadelphia’s architectural and developmental history. [ [http://www.carpentershall.org/history/location.htm Location, Location ] ]

Sansom erected the buildings on what was then the outskirts of Philadelphia. To attract tenants he paved Sansom Street at his own expense. He then hired Benjamin Latrobe to design another row on the 700 block of Walnut Street. A prominent feature of the street is the repetitive flat expanse of the buildings, which made it ideal for commercial conversion.

Changes throughout the years

Alterations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries changed most of the row – only 700, 730 and 732 Sansom retained their original experience. 710 Sansom, built in 1870, is a three-story commercial building with stone lintels. Its Victorian style is typical of the buildings that became the center for jewelry and diamond merchants who developed Jewelers’ Row in the mid-19th century (1860 – 1879).

722 Sansom was originally built in the 1860s and was redesigned in the early 1900s when steel became available. 724 Sansom, built in 1875, has a cast iron first floor.

ee also

* Independence National Historical Park
* Goldsmith
* Silversmith
* Bench Jeweler

External links

* [http://www.philadelphiajewelersrow.com Jewelers' Row Merchant Association]
* [http://www.centercityphila.org Center City District and Central Philadelphia Development Corporation]

References


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