Riverfront & Boat House

Glen Foerd

Riverfront & Boat House

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, United States

Created By: Glen Foerd on the Delaware


Glen Foerd is located on a high bluff at the confluence of the tidal Delaware River and the Poquessing Creek. The meeting place of the creek and river provides a rich habitat where birds, fish, reptiles and mammals thrive. The surrounding Delaware River Watershed was the land of the Unami Delaware tribe before European contact, and this specific site was likely a prime location for native Lenape people to hunt and fish before new settlers came to the area.

Attracted to the ports and the fertile soils in the region, the Swedish were among the first to settle in the Poquessing Creek area. English settlers began to inhabit the area after William Penn’s surveyors arrived. Penn originally selected the lower portion of the Poquessing creek for his city before deciding on the land a few miles south, where Philadelphia stands today. For many years, this area was known as “Old Philadelphia.”

Retreating from the city to hunt, fish, and enjoy natural beauty was already a practice on this site before Glen Foerd was built. Prior to Charles Macalester’s land purchase in 1850, this area was owned by John Risdon, who ran the Robin Hood Hotel. Many wealthy gentlemen would go there to fish, sail and shoot game. The hotel even had its own casino, so guests could gamble here too.

At that time, the Delaware River was particularly famous for its shad fish. These fish were both wild-caught and, by the nineteenth century, cultivated at fisheries. You may have visited the historic shad fishery at Pleasant Hill Park, just south of Glen Foerd. Shad fish and oysters were both plentiful here in the 1800s, before pollution from industry and sewage eradicated their populations.

The boat house serves as a reminder of the prominence of river transportation until the development of State Road in the late 1800s and railroad service from Center City. Guests of the Robin Hood Hotel came by ferry, and eventually, excursion steamships. Most people traveling to Glen Foerd in its early days would have arrived by river transportation as well. The boat house has largely been reconstructed, but stands on its original foundation. The first boat house was unfortunately vandalized by fire in the 1980s,.

Other prominent features of the riverfront include the historic gazebo and a statue of the original owners’ beloved dog, Little Ugly, who is buried nearby.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Glen Foerd


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