Take a tour of the Water Works

The Water Works is instantly recognizable, with its Greek Revival architecture and spot overlooking the Schuylkill.   Credit: J. Smith for GPTMC
The Water Works is instantly recognizable, with its Greek Revival architecture and spot overlooking the Schuylkill.
Credit: J. Smith for GPTMC

Christine Mifsud is in charge of one of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s most popular tours — and it’s not inside the museum. Instead, Mifsud walks visitors down a sloping hill to the nearby Fairmount Water Works, a 19th-century structure that was once the technological marvel of the United States.

What is so wondrous about the Water Works?
So many things! Here we have this civil engineering landmark in the United States, but you don’t have to be a geek to love it. It’s architecturally beautiful. It’s full of our city’s history. It’s very complex on the inside, but the outside is so elegant and simple. In 1815, it was designed to look like a country house. It’s inviting to everybody.

What do you respond to most, the science or the beauty?
Every time I do a tour, the beauty and the serenity overwhelm me. But it has also given me hope for the natural environment in which I live. When [the city] damned the river in 1821, they created what’s called a fish ladder to allow migrating fish to pass through. We now have windows into that ladder at the Water Works, and we’ve seen increasing numbers of fish thrive. [About 10 years ago] an otter was seen in the ladder for the first time. Conservationists literally popped champagne!

Can you eat fish from the Schuylkill?
Yes you can. When I was growing up in the ’70s, it was downright unsafe. But the water quality has really improved since then. The water department is actually doing a great job of educating local fishermen on how much is safe to eat, as well as techniques to eliminate a lot of contaminants.

History lesson
According to the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, the site became fully operational in 1822 and was the major source for potable water in Philadelphia until 1909. It was the first municipal project of its kind in the U.S. once rivaled Niagara Falls as the top tourist destination in the country. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Water Works housed both an aquarium and a public pool. Today, visitors can check out a world-class museum and a restaurant.

‘Wondrous to Behold: The Fairmount Water Works’
Tour begins at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, west entrance
Aug. 14, 2:30 p.m.
Free after museum admission, 215-763-8100
www.philamuseum.org


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.