Category Archives: Blog

How to Research Your Riverton Home – Feb. 23

HSR Pat Solin presentation poster Feb 2016In just two weeks from tonight, as part of our regular February meeting, Patricia Solin, longtime resident and former RPS librarian, will share information, tips, and useful resources as she presents, “How to Research Your Riverton Home.”

WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016
TIME: 7:00 pm
WHERE: Riverton Free Library

Dorrance 100 Park Ave plaque (Copy)In addition to the practical helps Mrs. Solin provides,  see the new design house plaques, and get a House Plaque Application Form, if you wish

Light refreshment served afterwards.

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Collector shares his eBay postcard auction prizes

Anyone who collects RPPCs, short for “real photo post cards,” knows that while they may offer some of the most unusual and rare views, we often come up empty-handed at the end of bidding. So it is with special gratitude to our friend of the HSR, Harlan Radford, we offer these scans of Camden postcards along with his annotations.

We also acknowledge the contribution of historian Paul W. Schopp for his expertise and advice which resulted in this expanded commentary.Click on images for enlarged views.

CAMDEN, NJ RPPC #10 1909

CAMDEN, NJ RPPC #10 1909

CAMDEN, NJ RPPC #10 1909: This 1909 unmailed real photo post card depicts the Pennsylvania Railroad Terminal at Federal and Market Streets in downtown Camden.  Built in 1899, it consists of an overhead covered train shed enclosing all railroad tracks, two Public Service Electric Railway (trolley) loops, and four ferry-boat slips to connect with Philadelphia on the other side of the Delaware River.  The prominent structure in the lower right foreground is the West Jersey Hotel. Constructed in 1850, and designed by Walt Whitman’s next-door neighbor, Stephen Decatur Button and his brother-in-law, Joseph C. Hoxie, it survived into the twentieth century, becoming the Hotel Ridgway.


This is one of a series of 11 postcards captured by Medford post card photographer William B. Cooper from the top of the Victor Talking Machine Company’s smokestack in the summer or fall of 1908 and copyrighted in 1909.



CAMDEN, NJ RPPC #5 1909: This real photo post card, copyright 1909, postmarked Feb. 26, 1909,  looks towards Coopers Point, the site of the Camden & Atlantic Railroad’s ferry and train terminal and numerous shipyards. Close examination reveals a neighborhood with row houses, small businesses, and churches. Sailing ships with three, four, and six masts anchored on the Delaware River wait to receive or discharge cargo. Toward the center left of the image is an Italianate house known as Cooper’s Folly, which was unceremoniously razed in 1924.



CAMDEN, NJ RPPC #6 1909: For this real photo post card view, copyright 1909, mailed and postmarked at Camden on Feb. 15, 1909, Cooper swung the camera a little bit more east from view #5, showing more of North Camden. It illustrates part of East Camden, N.J. and looking northeast to Cramer Hill. The church spire on the right is the First Presbyterian Church at 5th and Penn Streets. Cramer Hill was one of Camden’s several up and coming housing developments. Builder Alfred Cramer was known for his construction of single-family dwellings, stores, as well as tidy brick row houses, which were more affordable for Camden’s growing workforce. In the background towards the left is the Camden Woolen Mills, completed in 1866.

CAMDEN, NJ RPPC #11 1909

CAMDEN, NJ RPPC #11 1909

CAMDEN, NJ RPPC #11 1909: Another in the remarkable series of W.B. Cooper aerial views of Camden, this unmailed real photo post card view shows a part of downtown Camden, N.J. This image looks north/northwest toward Cooper’s Point Ferry with a Campbell Soup warehouse and various factories in the foreground and the Delaware River in the background. This sweeping outlook includes several sailing ships, many businesses, factories, warehouses, and wharves. Many large and noted manufacturing companies began to call Camden their home at this time. These panoramic aerial photos give unobstructed views of the then-thriving City of Camden from several directions.


Camden Carnival RPPC 1908

Camden Carnival RPPC 1908

RPPC CAMDEN CARNIVAL RPPC 1908: The subject of this real photo post card is a Camden Carnival on a residential street occurring Sept. 29, 1908. Sponsored by the Camden Business Improvement Association, the four-day celebration was held September 29, 30, and October 1, 1908. The decorated 3-horse-drawn wagon in the foreground is the center of attention. Patriotic bunting and an abundance of American flags adorn the homes. Many spectators bedecked in their finery view the parade and enjoy this celebratory occasion back in the first decade of the twentieth century!





Next follow three more Camden images, and while they are already in the Camden Images Gallery, these have descriptions and are displayed in higher resolution here.

CAMDEN, NJ RPPC #1 1909: Looking north from center Camden, note the dome of the North Baptist Church on the far right; Tabernacle M.E. Church is the large structure near the center; in the Delaware River in the distance lies 292-acre Petty Island (commonly called Petty’s Island).




CAMDEN, NJ RPPC #7 1909 : This real photo post card depicts the business center of Camden. The sender of this post card has marked four specific buildings and numbered them as 1, 2, 3, & 4. The domed building on the left marked as #1 is the County Court House, erected in 1905-06, at a cost of $800,000. Building #2 is the Third Regiment Armory. Structure #3 is Camden High and Manual Training School City Hall on Haddon Avenue is #4. In addition, the building in the left foreground is the Security Trust Company building, designed by local architect Arthur Truscott, which sits at southeast corner of Third and Market streets. At the extreme left center is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1866 and designed by ecclesiastical architect Jeremiah O’Rourke who later became the architect of the Capitol. According to the sender of this card, “This is a view of part of Camden taken from the New Victor Chimney.”



CAMDEN, NJ RPPC #8 1909: The U.S. Post Office at Third and Arch Streets, which also served as the federal courthouse, stands in the left foreground of this view of downtown Camden. Running through the center of this image is the recently completed elevated trackage of the West Jersey & Seashore’s third-rail electric line to Millville and to Atlantic City. High-speed rail at its finest! In the center right is the old Third Street Methodist Church that later became the PRR YMCA. During Walt Whitman’s time in Camden, he would frequently complain about the choir from this church! On the extreme left center, you can see the South Jersey Gas, Electric & Traction Company office building, which still stands today along Federal Street. It is a wonderful example of a Beaux Arts office building. In the distance is the steeple of First Methodist Church, which Cooper Hospital demolished within the last ten years. This image certainly captures the vitality and the steady growth that Camden experienced in the beginning of the last century.

PS: Links connect to other images in the collection, although not necessarily from the same era. For example, the postcard showing the RCA Building also shows the Delaware River Bridge, now re-named the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which did not open until 1926.

Can you help us further to “connect the dots” by giving to the Society any scans for this or another category in our online image collection? Would not all eleven of William B. Cooper’s post cards shot from the top of the Victor Talking Machine Company’s smokestack be something to see in one place? It would be an expensive and time-consuming task for an individual, but certainly an achievable goal if others viewing this can contribute.

If you have any actual South Jersey or Jersey Shore postcards, photos, ephemera, or collectibles you would like to give to the Society please contact us. Either way, we are glad to add your collection to our virtual archive so all may enjoy and learn from them. – JMc

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The last refuge of the unimaginative

65 degrees, green grass and emerging bulbs on a brilliant  day. Must be Jan. 10.

65 degrees, green grass and emerging bulbs on a brilliant day. Must be Jan. 10. Whaaaat??

Widely regarded as the most banal topic for conversation in the world, nevertheless, many people find themselves mentioning the weather every day.

Oscar Wilde declared that conversation about it was the last refuge of the unimaginative.

It is the default small talk topic. Even strangers discuss the weather. Looking back at past posts, I bring it up a lot.

On the phone to my friend across country or with my daughter on a business trip, I inquire, “How’s the weather?” And I picture it.

So, since I brought it up…again… The weather is a bit weird here in River City.

Picture this.

Brilliant sun and shirtsleeve temps in December and January have kept lawn mowers going here and coaxed spring bulbs from their dormancy.

high water at the RYC

high water at the RYC

The Delaware was just over the top of the river wall just after noon today (Jan.10). Those dark skies on the horizon brought more rain in the evening.

Winter lovers, take heart. The Polar Vortex is waiting in the wings. That should freeze the little heads off those daffodils. Since they only flower once a year they may not revive in the spring.

We’ll talk more then, my friend. – JMc

2016-01-10 Yacht Club


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This IS historic – A Christmas Eve warmer here than in LA

Christmas Eve 2015That is a sign on Rte.#130 in Cinnaminson, across the highway from Riverton Garden Center, recording a temperature higher here than in Los Angeles (according to ABC News).

I don’t know whether to mow my overgrown grass or open the pool.

Such a literally record-breaking event is bound to be memorable for its befuddlement of the area’s flora and fauna as well as its change in our Christmastide activities this year.

Lori McCurdy’s Bank Avenue photo from December 13, testifies to Mother nature’s recent confusion.

Old-Time-Christmas-Typography-thm-GraphicsFairy (Copy)One need only look back five years to find our area paralyzed by a late December snowstorm in 2010, or consider the Blizzard of ’96 that still stands as the all-time biggest snowstorm for Philadelphia.

If you really do miss the snow, here’s a post from 2010 with some Riverton snapshots.

So, enjoy this sure to be short-lived quirk of Nature.

Everybody, have a wonderful holiday and a healthy, happy, and safe New Year. – JMc



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Post Office may be ‘Snowed Under’ but it still delivers

Post Office 'Snowed Under'“Post Office Snowed Under With Parcels” read the headline in the old yellowed newspaper stored in our archive box in the Library basement.

I first saw this when working a few years ago on a piece about the Riverton Post Office – or offices – since there were a few over time.

No date – I looked on both sides for some hint.

But someone will know.

Al ‘Zipcode” Zidock, the BCT photog, captured Postal Clerks Frank Vacanti and William Wildman, Postmaster Joseph Yearly, and Postman Samuel Procopio on the job at the big brick former Riverton Post Office on Main.

Then, as now, the US Post Office continues to deliver.

Let me illustrate.

Jeff at Joie Budget Printing in Cinnaminson turned around our print job in just one day, so I printed, stuffed, and stamped envelopes Tuesday and rushed the newsletters to the post office before 5pm.

Coming right as the US Post Office prepares for its busiest delivery days of the year, I figured it would take a Christmas Miracle for newsletters to get to Society members before the New Year.

Despite handling record-breaking volume again this year, the USPS has already delivered at least one newsletter to a Riverton address. I spoke to Nancy Hall this morning (Weds.), and she had already received her mail-delivered copy.  Pretty remarkable.

And thank you very much, USPS. – JMc

P.S. For more history of Riverton’s Post Office, posted in 2012, CLICK HERE.




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Mugs with vintage imagery evoke memories and make great hostess gifts

RYC-lady mug

No guest wants to show up to dinner empty-handed, especially around the Holidays.

Such so-called bread and butter gifts, or hostess gifts, are what a guest gives as a thank you to the host, whether for a dinner or as an overnight guest. 

But finding the perfect present can be tricky, even if you’ve known the host/hostess for years.

This is one unique gift that will have everyone asking, “Where did you get that?”

We have on hand over fifty 11-ounce dishwasher safe and microwave safe mugs; 31 different cups each display vintage photos and/or maps from our extensive image archive.

Come to the used book sale at Riverton Library this Sunday, Dec. 20, from 1-3 pm and pick yours.  – JMc

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Not in the mood yet? Blame the weather

Woodside La lights

Woodside La lights

So maybe we all just needed this cold snap to get us into a holiday spirit. Driving around to look at the lights in town gets me going, too.

Main and Broad lights

Main and Broad lights

Lippincott Ave lights

Lippincott Ave lights

Recent seventy degree days just seem wrong for December, but then I must be too provincial in my thinking.

You know, we have Rivertonians who check in here from across the miles and coast to coast, so I guess one adapts one’s concept of the Season to wherever they are, whether it is Maine, South Carolina, or Florida, Connecticut or Washington.

Still, there’s a reason the phrase “There’s no place like home” was coined.

Do you know someone who would enjoy connecting with their old hometown through a membership in the Historical Society of Riverton?

gift-cardsHere is a Gift Enclosure that you can print out and give directly to your recipient.

2016 membership dues form snapshotChoose the PDF form to download: Main Street Railroad Station or the Sidewheeler Columbia.

Print the Gift Enclosure on any paper you choose, double-sided and fold it in thirds. It will fit into a #10 business envelope.

Then print out the 2016 Membership Form, fill out the information, and send it in with a check so membership can start right away in January. Instructions you need are on that form. – JMc







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Look for someone you know in Bruce Gunn’s 1950s era color slides

Show your kids (or grandkids) Riverton and the Camden waterfront as they appeared in the 1950’s thanks to these rare color slides donated by Bruce Gunn. With a high-resolution scan and some minor photo editing, these look like they were just taken.

Click on the thumbnails for larger views. Look for the link to the full size view.

It’s hard to imagine that the everyday items, maps, and photos of the 50s, 60s, and 70s are the collectibles and antiques of today. Have you any to share? – JMc

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Riverton enjoys SoCal temps in mid-December

December 13, 2015

72 degrees

The poor flowers don’t know whether to go to sleep or to wake up.



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Only 2 shopping days until Christmas

GN nast-santa-clause mug squareWell, that’s right if you only count tomorrow, Sunday, Dec. 13 and next Sunday, the 20th, for your chance to buy a mug with vintage hometown images from our archives.

It seems that every shopper has a story to go with the mug they choose.

Nancy Hall recalls riding the train into Philadelphia to go to Pierce Business School. Hubby, Bill, wants a Japanese beetle mug.

I will put that on the wish list. Along with one – or more – about Dreer’s Nursery. I do love a project.

Everyone seems to have a favorite RYC mug (there are several variations on that theme).

Other Riverton landmarks include the Porch Club, Main Street, Golf Club, War Memorial, and more.

Vintage postcard views of Riverside, Palmyra, and Moorestown ornament mugs for our neighboring towns.

031 How Riverton's Glorious Fourth Started

031 How Riverton’s Glorious Fourth Started

On a recent foray down to the RFL catacombs Deb Lengyel suggested I make a July 4th mug.

Here’s a prototype – what do you think?

The central image, displayed here, which came from an old postcard owned by Nick Mortgu, shows the parade marching toward the riverbank.

Other mugs display images contributed, at least virtually, by Betty Hahle, Ed Gilmore, myself, and others. Dick Paladino’s RYC photo, displayed here, is the centerpiece for mugs #8 and #11. Several images are from a huge batch of postcards Deb Lengyel scanned for me in 2005, that belonged to an eBay seller.

My favorites are the ones based on maps. I bought a single page of an 1876 atlas on eBay a while back and turned that into mug #9. Phyllis Rodgers’ hand colored of an 1890 map Riverton is the basis for mugs #3, #10, and #30.

The point is, many hands over a long time have contributed to this enterprise that is only just becoming available now.

31 Flavors

31 Flavors

We have now caught up to Baskin-Robbins.

You know, with the 31 flavors. The “31 flavors” slogan was thought up to convey to customers they could have a different flavor every day of the month.

While we do not have every design on hand, we do still have a good choice of about 30 mugs from which to choose.

Here’s the latest mug shot poster.

I will be at the Riverton Free Library used book sale from 1-3 if you want to come by to shop, or just tell a story.

Wait. I just found out Baskin-Robins has actually introduced more than 1,000 flavors. Do you have an idea for mug #32? – JMc

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