Tinicum Township Atlases
In 1848, Tinicum Township was still very wet--and an island. Along with the Delaware River, Darby and Bow Creeks defined the township's borders, with several creeks cutting through. Tidal fluctuations of water level level made for inconsistent boundaries between river and land, though efforts to stabilize the land with levees and dams were ongoing. Other than the Lazaretto quarantine facility, most of the land was used for agriculture. The Fishery marked between Darby Creek and the Lazaretto was operated by the Carter family.
By 1870, more boundaries have been drawn. Most properties were still run as farms, although a few commercial enterprises had been established along the riverfront. The Tinicum Fishing Company, which owned property between Darby Creek and the Delaware, was in the midst of a legal battle with Paul B. Carter over the right to occupy and fish a public waterway.
By 1892, the towns of Essington and Corbindale (now Lester) had formed, though marshy agricultural lands still predominated. In Essington, a few hotels and yacht clubs sprouted along the riverfront. At this point, the recreational use of the riverfront largely served wealthy Philadelphians rather than the inhabitants of Tinicum.
A 1929 atlas shows development increasing around the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, which opened a plant in Essington in 1918. The township's economy--and its community life--centered around Westinghouse for about six decades. The map also shows Hog Island now attached to the Tinicum mainland and Bow Creek starting to disappear. Hog Island itself had been transformed from abandoned farmland to industrial shipyard before falling into neglect once more after World War I. The Philadelphia Airport would soon start to grow on the site.
A satellite map of Tinicum today shows the airport covering about two thirds of the township. In addition to the infrastructure of runways and terminals, parking lots, business complexes, and hotels have cropped up in the vicinity. The Tinicum economy is now largely based on the airport, though the airport draws its employees from a much larger area. During the day, the township's population grows several times greater than its number of permanent residents. Community life is more diffuse from the days of Westinghouse, but the township is working to recreate a sense of community centered on waterfront recreation. Locations like Governor Printz Park and the Lazaretto are under construction to provide walking trails, boating access, and meeting points.