Sparks Shot Tower

Shot Tower Conveyed. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Front and Carpenter Sts.

This was America's first shot tower for manufacturing gunshot. Built by plumber Thomas Sparks and his partner John Bishop in 1808, the shot tower revolutionized the making of musket balls and other solid projectiles based on the principle that molten lead will form perfect round balls when poured from a high place. Sparks and Bishop originally built the tower to manufacture hunting shot. Bishop, a Quaker, sold his share of the business when the tower began to manufacture ammunition for the War of 1812. The Sparks family continued the tower's operations and went on to produce ammunition for the Civil War. The family maintained the tower until 1903. The Sparks Shot Tower has endured many changes in the neighborhood, and is now part of a city playground, its base serving as a recreation center — a classic example of adaptive reuse.

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