Frankford Arsenal

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Frankford Arsenal (1816-1977) - A U.S. Army arsenal established in 1816 after the War of 1812 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. Abandoned in 1977 and sold in 1983.

Frankford Arsenal

Frankford Arsenal History

Frankford Arsenal was established 27 may 1816 just after the War of 1812 on a 20 acre site in Frankford, Pennsylvania. The original arsenal was completed in 1830 and included six stone buildings and two workshops. At the time of the arsenal's closure the site had expanded to 110 acres and some 234 buildings.

The arsenal was primarily a storage depot up until the U.S. Civil War. At the outset of the war the arsenal commander, Captain Josiah Gorgas, Ordnance Department, resigned and fled to Confederate Richmond with a significant supply of rifles and ammunition. Gorgas, who had served in every U.S. arsenal, became the Chief of Ordnance for the Confederacy with the rank of Major and ultimately was promoted to Brigadier General. The arsenal became a major supplier of artillery, munitions and supplies during the war and came to employ some 1000 workers by the end of the war.

The arsenal further expanded during World War I and World War II with employment at the peak of activity reaching 22,000 workers. Activity at the arsenal changed from a primary focus on munitions to include research and development on technological advances in weapons systems. The arsenal itself became a small city with its own police and fire departments. By the 1970s the arsenal could not compete with capabilities of individual private companies and it was slated for closure. The Arsenal’s remaining functions were transferred to the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey.

The arsenal was closed at the end of 1977 and a major portion, 86 acres and 170 buildings, was sold in 1983 to a Massachusetts developer who created the Arsenal Business Center.

Current Status

The western part of the old arsenal is now the Arsenal Business Center in Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. That site is surrounded by a 10' high security wall and fence system. The eastern portion is owned by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and contains a large parking lot and boat ramp on the Delaware River. The Shopping Center at the Arsenal is under construction (2013).


Location: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

Maps & Images

Lat: 40.007778 Long: -75.068056

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