Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

Philadelphia Inquirer / Daily News Building
400 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia PA 19130

Carmen A. Weber, Irving Kosmin, and Muriel Kirkpatrick, Workshop of the World (Oliver Evans Press, 1990).

The Philadelphia Inquirer actually began on June 1, 1829 as the Pennsylvania Inquirer. Six months later, Jesper Harding purchased the paper as well as numerous other papers over the next 30 years. The paper originated out of a variety of locations in Center City, including the first Inquirer building at the southeast corner of 3rd Street and Carter's Alley, south of Chestnut Street. This iron and glass front building housed a flatbed press. Harding built his own paper mill to supply the press. His success was such that he was able to obtain the first American rights to publish several of Charles Dicken's novels in serial form in his paper, including Barnaby Rudge and Master Humphrey's Clock.

Pasted Graphic
Edwin T. Freedley, Philadelphia and its Manufactures (1867), p. 163.
When his son, William W. Harding became the owner in 1859, the name of the paper was changed to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The paper moved to 304 Chestnut Street and installed a Bullock steam printing press the first of its kind in the world. Circulation grew from 7,000 in 1859 to 70,000 by 1863, possibly based on its excellent reporting of the Civil War. In the next 20 years, Harding's health and the country's economic conditions declined, so Harding was glad to sell the paper to British-born James Elverson in 1889. Elverson moved the press further west on Chestnut and equipped it with the most up-to-date presses and typesetters, he was the first to switch to electrically-power the press room. Elverson used the paper to initiate civic improvements, promoting the Reading Terminal and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Elverson's son became publisher after his father's death in 1911. He built the Elverson Building at Broad and Spring Garden Streets; he and his wife used the 12th and 13th floors for living space. Elverson Jr.'s sister inherited the paper at his early death in 1929. At this time shares in the paper were offered on the public market and the controlling interest was purchased by Curtis-Martin Newspapers. However, they defaulted on payments and the Inquirer was returned to the Elverson Corporation. Ultimately the paper was bought by the Annenberg family who ran it from 1936 until 1969, when it was sold to Knight Newspapers, who merged with Ridder Publishing Company. In 1984 Time magazine called the Inquirer one of the 10 best dailies, and its staff has won more journalism awards that any other paper in the country.
The Elverson Building housing the Inquirer has been a part of the Philadelphia skyline since it was erected in 1925. This beautiful white building, with its lantern top was constructed to house the newspaper office and printing plant, in 1948 Annenberg added a building for the rotogravure presses used to print the color supplements, T.V. Guide, and Seventeen, magazine.

Update May 2007 (by Torben Jenk & Harry Kyriakodis):
Still used as the headquarters by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. The printing presses were moved to a new facility in Conshohocken. The 1948 addition—located on the site of the main Baldwin Locomotive Works plant demolished in 1937—is now the headquarters of the School District of Philadelphia.

1  Prepared from materials in the files of the Philadelphia Historical Commission.

See also:
Philadelphia Inquirer website
Daily News website