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Water Pics

Water Pics was an outdoor exhibition featuring a series of posters created in 1951 by the Pennsylvania Sanitary Water Board.

On view from September 2021 to September 2022

The designs were part of the board’s anti-pollution campaign, highlighting the challenges to water quality across the state, the multiple uses of water, and the value of clean water.

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Water Pics outdoor exhibition

Images courtesy of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Pennsylvania State Archives

When these posters were created, the two chief sources of water pollution in Pennsylvania were untreated sewage and waste from industries ranging from milk plants, distilleries, and slaughterhouses to mines, refineries, and paper mills. The series reflects the historical challenges of balancing human health, economic activity, and environmental quality . . . challenges that continue today.

Water Pics adorned the façade of our building at 315 Chestnut Street in Old City Philadelphia.

Learn more about the history of water analysis and protection at sciencehistory.org/downstream.