Throwback Thursday: Creswell Street

12-4 Throwback Thurs Cresswell street 12-3

Streets in East Falls — like streets everywhere — get their names first from local features: geographic quirks, land owners and businesses. As industry develops, politician and investor names start showing up:  Stokely, Fox, Vaux...

Creswell, perhaps. We’re still tracking down the documentation but meanwhile we know that Creswell was originally called “Elizabeth Street” but then sometime in the early 1900’s the name changed to Creswell.

Cresswell iron works building PM

Creswell/Cresswell Iron Works (Samuel Creswell & Son), had a factory on Cherry Street from 1835 – 1969. The abandoned old foundry is still sitting there, in fact, but unfortunately examples of the company’s distinctive work are well-hidden throughout the city.

vault lighting collage

Creswell was a local pioneer in the lost art of “vault lighting” — essentially, a Victorian solution to illuminating the city’s subterranean vaults, basements and sewers by focusing sunlight with glass discs in iron grills.

As you might expect, most of these glittery manhole covers have been lost to age, weather and re-pavers, but a few still exist (outside the White Building at 12th & Chestnut, for instance, or Spruce near 22nd).



While so far no Creswell vault lights have been located, manhole covers, gates and other iron embellishments stamped “SJ CRESWELL IRONWORKS” can still be found on streets all over Center City, and even in our own backyard.

Did you know where this Creswell Ironworks grate is in East Falls?


At St. Bridget’s, behind Hillanbrand’s Mary statue — which is a story, itself.

According to local Hillanbrands Nancy and Bob, the statue is a representation of a vision a family member saw one day on St. Bridget’s hill, long ago.

The visitation became a Hillanbrand legend, and when their went grandmother died tragically in childbirth, the family felt the best way to honor her memory was the statue of Mary still gracing the front lawn today.

Franks -- hillenbrands


1 Comment

  1. In 1959 I lived in east falls. Address was 4318 cresswell street. The school was East Falls Elementary. I guess it is all gone now. We went swimming at a pool Gustine

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