Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center

The nation’s first municipal water treatment center


Fairmount Water Works

Credit: C. Purcell for GPTMC


add to My Experience

The Experience

The Fairmount Water Works, one of Philadelphia’s architectural icons, now is an exciting combination of environmental education, architectural history and cultural heritage. Tucked beneath the decks of this National Historic Landmark, the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center is a very hands-on, very interactive exhibit using computers, joysticks, buttons and videos to highlight the City’s water resources.

Push one button to create a rainstorm and follow the water’s path through watersheds. Push another and you’re operating the watershed flight controller. Or follow the cycle of water from the river to your kitchen sink. A short video traces the origins of the Water Works, the nation’s first municipal water system, and makes the engineering not only understandable but interesting, too.


Perched on the banks of the Schuylkill River, the Water Works was not only a source of the City’s water, its rambling Classic architecture and cutting-edge engineering made it an international 19th century tourist attraction. Water was pumped from the river into a reservoir (where the Art Museum now stands) and then distributed through the city via wooden water mains.