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Photograph of the Baldwin Locomotive Works Waterworks, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia Fairmount Waterworks in 1876
He was part of a city that was entering into a great period of prosperity and emerging as the great manufacturing center of the United States. One of the colossal things is the great Baldwin Locomotive Works, which would spread out west of Broad St. near Spring Garden. A four-block complex of over twenty buildings where the world's greatest locomotives were being built... The waterworks date back to a series of epidemics in the 1790s, largely caused by private wells and the leaking of the privies into the private well system here. So in a very typical Philadelphia fashion there is a decision to go into huge engineering project to create the first central municipal waterworks anywhere.

Eakins grew up in a city that had experienced one hundred years of intense intellectual life. By the 1790s all the important national medical societies emerged in this city... There's a world of medical education and medical life here. There are forums and colloquiums, and lectures daily where people can learn the newest exploration in medicine and understanding in anatomy. It's a world you can trace back to Franklin or Benjamin Rush. This was a city of men of enlightenment, men of rationality and science, and attention to science. This is a young man who I think gets caught up in this scientific milieu.
Historian, University of Pennsylvania
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