A Brief History of Philadelphia’s Boathouse Row

Boathouse Row by day
Boathouse Row by day | © Susan / Flickr
Nina Starner

Philadelphia is home to plenty of picturesque sights, but there are few as striking as Boathouse Row, situated on the Schuylkill River next to the Art Museum. Here’s a brief history of Philadelphia’s Boathouse Row.

Boathouse Row came into existence thanks to the construction of the Fairmount Dam and Water Works nearby, which prevented tidal waters from making their way into the city’s water supply. However, it wasn’t long before wealthy Philadelphians left the homes on the river in droves because the calm waters in this part of the Schuylkill led to unbearable mosquito infestations, and the City of Philadelphia purchased the Lemon Hill Estate (a part of Boathouse Row’s landscape) along with all of the houses by 1844.

Philadelphia’s Boathouse Row

Fairmount Park sprang up around Lemon Hill as well, and in 1855, the houses became part of a public park, and the Schuylkill Navy, an amateur version of professional rowing, was founded in these houses in 1858. However, by 1859, the City of Philadelphia ended up condemning the group of houses.

Boathouse Row
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