James West built and repaired sailing vessels on this site from as early as 1676 to his death in 1701. Archeologists are looking for the remains of the shipyard, which pre-dated the arrival of William Penn by six years. Excavations under this parking lot in the 1980s uncovered portions of four wharves and a slipway located on lots to the north of West’s shipyard. There were eight historic lots between Vine and Callowhill Streets and almost all of them held shipping related facilities in the eighteenth century. As the Delaware waterfront moved eastward, the wharves were buried and by the end of the nineteenth century a rail yard covered most of the block. The Hertz Realty Company opened a rent-a-car lot on the property in 1969. Previous archaeology on the north end of the site uncovered four wharves and a slipway.
The excavation was commissioned by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), the present owners of the site, with support from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the William Penn Foundation.
Visitors are welcome to watch the work and tour the site at the following times:
Wednesday, July 18 1 – 3 P.M.
Thursday, July 19 10 A.M. to noon
Friday, July 20 1 – 3 P.M.
Additional tours may be arranged by appointment during the week of July 23-27. Call 215-629-3200 for information.