The Schuylkill River was never as important commercially as the Delaware River. The Delaware was navigable all the way to Trenton but the first major falls on the Schuylkill were just below Manayunk. The Schuylkill quickly became the location for many country houses of the wealthy wanting to escape the congestion and disease of the Delaware River port. Many mansions remain, stretching from almost where the river joins the Delaware, all the way up to the turn in the river leading to Manayunk. The river itself became a major highway for these residences, connecting them to Philadelphia and many of the homes were oriented to and enjoyed fine views of, the river.

Some homes have been lost, particularly those directly across the river to Penn's origin city in what was to become West Philadelphia. Philadelphia "jumped" the Schuylkill with major development immediately after the Civil War and many in the area were torn down. Perhaps the most famous of these was Powelton, the home of Samuel Powel, the first mayor Philadelphia. It was torn down in the early 1800s but gave its name to Powelton village section of west Philadelphia.

Starting in about 1840 industrialization began to creep up the Schuylkill River from its junction with the Delaware. The Schuylkill had become the major water source for drinking water in Philadelphia's new central water system so to protect this water source, the city fathers purchase land on both sides of the river upstream from downtown forming the nucleus of Philadelphia's great Fairmount Park system.
Along the Schuylkill
Fairmount Waterworks 1835