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18,690 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Marcus Hook is a borough in Delaware County. The borough borders the Delaware River to the east and the state of Delaware to the south, and is sometimes called "the cornerstone of Pennsylvania". Marcus Hook has a population of around 2,300.

Marcus Hook was originally called Upland, and then Chichester. The name of the borough comes from the Dutch "Marreties Hoeck", and was originally a tiny Swedish settlement. Marcus Hook began as a prominent shipbuilding center from the 1700s until the mid-1800s, when ships were becoming too big to use resources in Marcus Hook. In the 1800s, Marcus Hook was also a fishing village. In the 20th century, the borough became an oil refinery center, with the first refineries constrcuted in 1902. It was in Marcus Hook that the Houdry process, catalytic cracking to convert petroluem to gasoline, was invented in 1937. Marcus Hook was also a rayon-producing center, with the American Viscose Company holding the patent to produce artifical silk at their first factory.

Today, the American Viscose Company is gone, and most of their buildings sit unoccupied. The refineries still operate in the borough, and surround the residential and commercial areas on almost all sides.

Sunoco Pipelines crossing over U.S. Route 13 double as a welcome sign as drivers approach the business and residential area of Marcus Hook.

An industrial building on U.S. Route 13.

Honeywell buildings on U.S. Route 13.

Industry along the Amtrak rail lines.

Industry along Blueball Avenue.

The Sunoco refinery, along Green Street. Sunoco's refinery began in 1902.

Older buildings at the Sunoco refinery, from Rennie Street.

Buildings and pipelines of the Sunoco refinery, on Green Street.

The Sun Seaman's Memorial, at the main entrance to the Sunoco refinery at Green Street & Delaware Avenue. The memorial was dedicated in 1949 to seamen who lost their lives on Sunoco oil tankers in World War II. The Sunoco refinery offices are in the background.

An oil tanker docked at the ConocoPhillips refinery at Delaware Avenue and Church Street.

A duplex on Delaware Avenue. The houses were built in the mid-1800s, and are a remnant of Marcus Hook's time as a minor beach resort.

The Seamen's Hotel, on Delaware Avenue. The structure was built in 1795, and was originally a sea captain's home.

Houses on Delaware Avenue. The house on the right was built in the late 1700s and was originally a boarding house for sailors.

The Marcus Hook Plank Log House, at 221 Market Street. The house was built in the late 1600s or early 1700s and was allegedly the home of Blackbeard the pirate's mistress Margaret, and was visited by Blackbeard when he was in town.

Buildings on Market Street. In the middle is Clank's Bar and Pizzeria, known for their upside-down pizza. The median in the foreground was the location of the market that was designated as the market area by William Penn in 1701, one of only three markets that he chartered.

Houses on Market Street. The stone house was built in the early 1700s.

Rowhouses on Church Street.

Houses on 6th Street.

Immaculate Conception of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church, on 8th Street at Green Street. The church was built in 1917.

An apartment building on Market Street.

A duplex on Market Street.

Rowhouses on Yates Avenue.

Rowhouses on Washington Avenue.

A duplex on Yates Avenue. The houses were built in the late 1800s.

Duplexes on McClenachan Terrace. The houses were built at around 1900.

Buildings on Market Street. The structure in the center was built in the late 1800s and still has its old storefront.

The Borough of Marcus Hook Municipal Building, on 10th Street. The structure was built in 1939.

Businesses on Market Street.

Businesses on 10th Street.

An American Viscose Company office building, on 10th Street. The office building was built in 1910. The American Viscose Company was the first company in North America to produce artifical silk, now known as rayon.

The American Viscose Company's building from 10th Street.

The American Viscose Company's administrative building, on 10th Street. The structure was built in 1910.

Detail on the office building for the American Viscose Company.

The American Viscose Company's offices on 10th Street.

Rowhouses on Chestnut Street in the Viscose Village neighborhood of Marcus Hook. Viscose Village was built from 1912 to 1915 as a planned community for workers of the American Viscose Company. The rowhouses were built in the English Domestic Revival style.

Rowhouses on Maple Street in Viscose Village.

Rowhouses on Plaza Street in Viscose Village. These houses are across the street from Robert Haebel Plaza, a park in the shape of a half-circle, surrounded by Plaza Street and 10th Street.

Houses on Chestnut Street in Viscose Village.

An apartment building on Chestnut Street in Viscose Village.

An apartment building on Pine Street in Viscose Village.


Delaware Adoptee
218 Posts
Thanks for documenting this truly awful place. I should think the taverns do a very good business indeed. Could you give us a photo tour of Chester next? (seriously -- it's the only way I'll ever see the place)

18,690 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for documenting this truly awful place. I should think the taverns do a very good business indeed. Could you give us a photo tour of Chester next? (seriously -- it's the only way I'll ever see the place)
I would never live in Marcus Hook, but is an interesting place from a historical standpoint. The waterfront has had several healthy industries over the centuries, and some of the buildigns from those industries exist. They have a nice little park that makes it easy to watch the ships go up and down the river, and you can even watch a tanker dock in Marcus Hook if you're there at the right time. Then you also have Viscose Village, which isn't really a company town, but a company neighborhood is still pretty interesting. The company's old factory is pretty nice as well; if that were in Wilmington or Philadelphia or in some significant city, it would've been redeveloped long ago.

Interesting that you mention that taverns should do very well; Marcus Hook has slowly worked towards closing them, mainly because biker gangs made too much of a ruckus back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Still, Marcus Hook has a lot of urban Northern ******** (think of Marshallton or maybe Claymont as a Delaware comparison).

Yes, I'll be covering Chester some time, but it will have to be at some point when I have a Sunday morning available, since I would prefer to look around when the drug dealers are asleep.

1 Posts
Marcus Hook

Great pics! I grew up in Marcus Hook during the 60s and 70s and had a great childhood there. It was a great town, I admit, it has seen better days.

The "row houses" you have listed on Church street are actually apartments, the upper and lower are separate units. My grandparents had their first apartment there back in the 40s. My great grandparents lived directly across the street. The brick building you see in the background of that pic used to be a movie theater.

The apartments in Viscose Village used to be a community center, we had dances there when I was in Junior high.

Back in the 60s and early 70s MH had a small department store downtown, movie theater, great little shops and restaurants and families that went back generations in the town. I would not have wished to grow up anywhere else.

Don't live there now, but often think of it fondly. Thanks for the pics.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
55,623 Posts
I absolutely love hardscrabble towns. None of the yuppy pretension that infects so many places. They exist for a very simple reason: jobs and industry. I read somewhere that in the '70s Marcus Hook was one of the largest US ports by gross tonnage. It was the oil business that fueled the Delaware River economy. Chester PA is another one these great towns.
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