The Camden Waterfront
The area now known as Camden had it origins as Cooper's Ferry in the late 1600's. The Delaware River was alive with activity flowing between Philadelphia and its neighbor across the river, prompting William Cooper to establish a much-needed ferry service to move goods from shore to shore. By 1809 there were seven ferry systems operating, and commerce was vibrant on both sides of the river. Cooper's Ferry and its surrounding hotels, taverns and luxurious gardens became a destination point for visitors.
In 1828, the colony of Cooper's Ferry was incorporated as Camden. The dawning of the industrial age in America brought new areas of growth to the region. A web of roadways and a new, efficient railway made Camden a convenient center of commerce. Many businesses made Camden their home, including The Victor Talking Machine Company, (later to become RCA Victor) Campbell Soup Company, Esterbrook Pens and the New York Shipbuilding Corporation.
By 1920, Camden was known as "the biggest little city in the world." The reputation came from the many and varied innovations launched in Camden, ranging from condensed soup to recorded sound to the works of Walt Whitman. The Victor Talking Machine Company 's inventions became known throughout the world. Great performing stars, from Al Jolson to Enrico Caruso came to record in Camden and entertainment venues flourished.
As times change, so do cities. The end of the manufacturing era and the advent of the automobile age changed the face of Camden. The Camden Bridge, now known as the Benjamin Franklin, was built in 1926. Ferry usage declined sharply, as motorists took to the newly developed network of highways. The last ferry crossed the Delaware in 1952. Today, Camden is implementing a plan to creatively re-use the area which was once devoted to manufacturing.
Cooper's Ferry Partnership is facilitating the revival of the City of Camden by creating an environment where people choose to live, work, and invest. We develop visionary, long-range plans for the redevelopment of Camden’s waterfronts and work with private sector, government and community partners to make these plans a reality. Read more about us here!