Fairmount Water Works

Address: 640 Waterworks Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19130

Neighborhood: Fairmount

Website: www.fairmountwaterworks.org

Social Media:

Contact: 215-685-0723


This engineering triumph and architectural masterpiece was built to improve upon Philadelphia’s earlier engineered public water system founded in 1801.  It opened in 1815 and was quickly praised internationally for its innovative technology and picturesque setting. Frederick Graff’s innovative use of water wheels and pumps to supply drinking water enveloped in Palladian style neoclassical buildings stood as an expression of civic pride.  Overlooking the Schuylkill River, Graff also designed gardens and pathways for public enjoyment along the edge of the city plan, as opposed to town squares and commons that became the start of one of the first parks in the country. Upon his death, Graff’s son continued to innovate by replacing breast wheels with new turbine water wheel technology, modified the buildings and completed the central pavilion, which is still in place today.

Resources for Researchers and Educators

Information for Visitors


  • First in the nation– Philadelphia’s “firsts”
  • Architecture and design – iconic, famous, or representative
  • Arts through the ages – music, art, theater

Link to NHL Nomination Form