The Fair Hill Burial Ground was established in 1703. Over the years, the neighborhood of Fairhill grew around it. Looking at historic maps, courtesy of the Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network, gives us a window into the past.
1808. In this early map, lands around the burial ground are owned by a small number of families (Dickinson, Plough, and Norris, amongst others). You can see labelled here that Germantown Avenue was a toll road at this point.
1843. Germantown Avenue has become the Germantown and Perkiomen Turnpike, with the burial ground just north of a tollgate. The Philadelphia/Germantown Railroad has been built to the west, and the Reading Railroad to the East. The area is now more settled, with the Engleman and Cridland family properties as the burial ground’s nearest neighbors. Several taverns have opened nearby.
1855. the neighborhood is divided into a grid of streets. We can see a hotel has opened a few blocks north of the burial ground.
1862. In this map, made during the Civil War, we can see the addition of a reservoir to the south east. Three creeks continue to run above ground to the north.
1895. Big changes have arrived with the construction of the Pennsylvania Railroad to the north, and lumber & coal yards along it. The reservoir has been expanded, and the neighborhood now holds a farmer’s market, a rail yard, a home for the elderly, and a baseball park. The residential areas are densely settled.
1903. The neighborhood continues to fill in.
1910. The reservoir has been repurposed as part of the city’s firefighting system, and a school occupies the lot next door for the first time.
1934. A basic street map.
1942. the neighborhood has begun to resemble its current layout.
1962. A settled neighborhood, worlds away from the scattered farms of 1808.