Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

Pasted Graphic
Girard Point Grain Elevator, 1912-1916
between 26th and 29th Streets on the north bank of the Schuylkill River, Philadelphia PA 19145

John Mayer, Workshop of the World (Oliver Evans Press, 1990).

As early as 1859, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) recognized an economical advantage in using Philadelphia's wharves for the import and export of grains; wheat, oats, and corn. Thus began the development of a number of grain elevators,including a riverside terminal on the Delaware at the foot of Washington Avenue, an elevator at Market and 30th Streets (built in 1862), and numerous floating elevators that collected grain from ships anchored off the wharves. 1 By 1872, the PRR owned half of Philadelphia's 1.5 million bushel capacity for grain storage.
The last remnant of this important trade in South Philadelphia is the grain elevator built by the Girard Point Storage Company beginning in 1912. It replaced two structures built by the International Navigation Company around 1874 and later purchased by the PRR.
Girard Point offered convenient portage for ships and, with the expansion of Greenwich Point Rail Yard, rail access as well. The new grain elevator was fireproof, built of steel and concrete, and able to hold 1.25 million bushels of grain. The railroad added an additional 1 million bushels of storage capacity in 1914, only two years after the elevator went into operation.
Six railroad tracks provided train access to the storage bins. To deliver the grain to ships docked along the pier, a trestle 30 feet high with the capability of delivering 60,000 bushels of grain per hour was built along the wharf.
The grain elevator was equipped with a grain drier and cooler housed in a separate concrete building. The work house contained various machines to assist in the storage and separation of grain. A temperature-sensing system monitored the temperature in each storage bin; readings were taken at a central station. The drip shed had a capacity of 36 cars, while the holding tracks adjoining the elevator could accommodate 1,000 cars. The elevator was able to receive 240 cars each 10-hour working day.
In 1964, the elevator was transferred to the Tidewater Grain Company through the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. The site is currently being renovated for use once again as a grain elevator.

1  James J.D. Lynch Jr., "Grain, Girard Point and the Pennsylvania Railroad," The High Line, Vol. 6, Nos. 1 & 2, (Autumn 1985-Winter 1985).
2  Hexamer General Survey #843-844 (1875) "The International Navigation Company's Girard Point Grain Elevator, Girard Point."
Hexamer General Survey #1548-1549 (1881) "The International Company's Property."
Bromley's Atlas of Philadelphia, 26th and 30th Wards, 1887, Pl. X.

Update May 2007 (by Joel Spivak):
No change.

See also:
Hexamer General Survey #2401-2402 (1890) "The Girard Point Storage Company's Property."