Tuesday, January 16, 2018
One Hundred and Twenty Years Ago Today - My Oldest Post Card
In 1889, the Reading Railroad decided to build a train depot, passenger station, and company headquarters on the corner of 12th and Market Streets. The move came eight years after the Pennsylvania Railroad opened its Broad Street Station several blocks away at 15th and Market Streets, and one year after the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad opened its 24th Street Station at 24th and Chestnut Streets. The chosen location was occupied by an open-air market that had been in continuous operation since 1853. After loud complaints and much negotiation, the railroad agreed to purchase the markets for $1 million and move them to a new structure: the Reading Terminal Market, located to the rear (north) of the headhouse at 12th and Filbert Streets. This required the train shed and all of its tracks to be constructed one story above street level, with the Ninth Street Branch to bring trains in and out.
The headhouse was designed in 1891 by Francis H. Kimball, and the train shed by Wilson Brothers & Company. Construction began that same year, and the station opened on January 29, 1893. At the time, the train shed was one of the largest single-span arched-roof structures in the world.
The original Broad Street station, pictured here, was designed by Wilson Brothers & Company under authority of the old Philadelphia. Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad (established 1836 from merger of four smaller lines dating to 1831). It was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad in the same year of its completion in 1881. It was one of the first steel-framed buildings in the United States to use masonry, not as structure, but as a curtain wall. Initially, trains arrived via elevated tracks built above Filbert Street. By 1885 the land between the station and the Schuylkill River had been purchased and cleared, and a 9-block viaduct constructed. Broad Street Station was dramatically expanded by renowned Philadelphia architect Frank Furness, 1892-93.
This is the back of the card. You can see that it is considered to be a "Mail Card" not a post card. On May 19, 1898, Congress passed an act allowing private printing companies to produce postcards with the statement “Private Mailing Card, Authorized by Act of Congress of May 19, 1898.” Private mailing cards now cost the same amount of money to mail as government-produced postcards: 1¢. The words “Private Mailing Card” distinguished privately printed cards from government printed cards.
In December 1901, the Postmaster-General issued Post Office Order No. 1447, which allowed the words “Post Card” instead of the longer “Private Mailing Card” on the back of postcards. Private printers were now also allowed to omit the line citing the 1898 Private Mailing Card Act. However, messages were still not allowed on the address side of postcards. By this time, the front of most postcards had images, which eliminated it as a space for messages. Because of the absence of message space on the address side of postcards, this era of the Post Card Period is also known as the Undivided Back Period.