Founded in 1855, Fairmount Park was created by the City Council in an effort to protect both the Philadelphia’s water supply and the general health of the people. Several epidemics across the city, including an outbreak of yellow fever in the 1790s, prompted this interest in protecting municipal drinking water. In addition, rising pollution from factories and industry endangered the waterways.
As time passed, the park grew both in size and in popularity as a recreation spot. The park, like many of the Victorian era, was intended to be a quiet area for relaxation and a place in which people could escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Disadvantaged schoolchildren went on field trips to the park, and there were numerous opportunities for others to vacation there by staying in one of the many inns along Wissahickon Creek. Many of these buildings, however, were demolished when the park was created. The Valley Green Hotel (now the Valley Green Inn restaurant), seen in the photograph above, is the last of these roadhouses to survive.