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Philadelphia Engine Works / Neafie and Levey

Philadelphia Engine Works/ Neafie and Levey (1844 - 1907)

A shipbuilding and engineering firm that combined building ships, steam powered fire engines, steam engines and patented curved propellers into a business. A successor to Penn Steam Engine and Boiler Works (1838 – 1882), with some of the same owners. Located along Delaware River, foot of Palmer Street, Kensington, next to Penn Treaty Park. It produced more than 275 ships in its lifetime. After about 1850 some iron and steel hulled ships, wooden hulls otherwise. It further produced about 1300 steam engines, many of which went into ships built by others. The shipyard contracted with the Navy to build three destroyers and two cruisers in 1898. Delays in material deliveries and design problems related to propeller turbulence resulted in payment delays from the Navy. The shipyard was forced out of business in 1907. The last delivery was the steel hulled tug Adriatic in 1908.


Neafie and Levy Ship & Engine Building Company (Source: Independence Seaport Museum)

Submarine USS Alligator.jpg

Submarine USS Aligator (1862) 

It may be useful to note the historical technological events taking place during this period:

  • 1760 – ongoing - Industrial revolution- Going from hand production methods to machine production.

  • 1831 - Steam engines used for transportation, first as railroads then ships.

  • 1831 DeWitt Clinton locomotive steam engine, 1838 paddle wheel steamer Great Western.

  • 1831 – Michael Faraday demonstrated the relationship between magnetism and electricity. Precursor to production of electricity by generators

  • 1838 – Steam Ship Archimedes driven by propeller (helical spiral).

  • 1845 – SS Great Britain – first crossing of Atlantic by propeller driven ship

  • 1880 – Edison invented the light bulb.

  • 1880 – 1890 – Development of generation and distribution of electricity. Prior to this electricity was mostly generated chemically (battery).

  • Early 1900s – Steam engines were dominant means of powering mechanical processes. Piston in a cylinder was the early mechanism used. (Steam Engines)

Penn Steam Engine & Boiler Works.jpg

Penn Steam Engine & Boiler Works (Source: Library of Philadelphia)

USS St Louis.jpg

USS St. Louis C20/CA18 (1906) 

USS Bainbridge.jpg

USS Bainbridge DD1 (1902), Torpedo Boat Destroyer #1, 250 feet long, 23 foot beam, draft of 6 feet 6 inches, capable of 29 knots. 

SS Yankee.jpg

SS Yankee (1907)

Tug Jupiter.jpg

Tug Jupiter (1902)

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Merchant Marine in WWII


Learn about the Merchant Marines during WWII.

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