ISSUE | HISTORIC RITTENHOUSETOWN
The cradle of the paper-making industry
Linda Loyd's article "Pulp trade boosts port jobs" (Monday) recounted the dynamic growth of the Tioga Marine Terminal in Port Richmond because of increased importation of wood pulp destined for regional paper companies. While the terminal may be a 21st-century success story, Philadelphia has been at the center of the paper-making industry since 1690, when the Rittenhouse family emigrated from Holland and built the first paper mill in British North America on the banks of the Paper Mill Run near Germantown.
A community of textile weavers, Germantown residents grew flax and wove the fibers into linen fabric on looms in their homes. When no longer serviceable, linen rags were collected and taken to the Rittenhouse mill to be transformed into pulp and then into paper for Germantown printers into the 19th century.
As suppliers of locally produced paper and employers of residents of the community, the Rittenhouse family played an important role in the economic development of Germantown and colonial Philadelphia.
Today, Historic RittenhouseTown, a National Historic Landmark District, consists of six surviving structures dating to 1707 that are open to the public.