Free History Lecture Explores Philadelphia’s Rich Watersheds and Sewers

Historian Adam Levine has been digging into the history of the city’s sewers and drainage systems as a consultant to the Philadelphia Water Department since 1998. Levine will reveal a side of the city most Philadelphians have never seen in a free public lecture, “The History of Philadelphia’s Watersheds and Sewers.” The event will be held on Friday, April 26, at 7 pm at Holy Family University’s Northeast Philadelphia campus.

Since William Penn began constructing Philadelphia in 1682, the region’s landscape has been changed dramatically. Hundreds of miles of the city’s surface streams have been channeled underground to support the city’s 3,000 mile sewer system. Levine expects that his lecture on the city’s watersheds and sewers may change the way the public thinks about Philadelphia and cities in general.

The lecture is part of the Glen Foerd-Holy Family University Speaker Series that showcases topics of area cultural and historical interest. It will be held in the auditorium of the Education and Technology Center, 9801 Frankford Avenue (Corner of Grant and Frankford Avenues). For directions, visit

Levine has tried to piece together the fascinating history of the city’s many lost streams. His research is in the collection of the PWD’s historical material, local libraries, historical societies, archives, and relevant departments of the city government; his sources included paintings, drawing, maps and plans, photographs, and surveys.

Levine’s research provides much of the background information used in the drainage and sewerage sections of the historic exhibits at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center and the “Clean Water for Life” exhibit in the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building, marking the 200th anniversary of the Philadelphia Water Department. More information is available at his website:

Find us on Facebook at Glen Foerd-Holy Family University Speaker Series. The series is funded by Holy Family University and Glen Foerd on the Delaware.

Holy Family University is a premier Catholic university offering nearly 40 undergraduate, graduate and accelerated degree programs. The University’s main campus is in Northeast Philadelphia, with additional locations in Bensalem and Newtown, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1954 by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth as a private, not-for-profit, faith-inspired community, Holy Family University propels graduates to purpose-driven, values-centered lives through outstanding academic programs, flexible delivery options, manifold experiential learning opportunities, supportive career development and deep personal connections. Visit for more information.