A magisterial history of Philadelphia's iconic Boathouse Row
Waves of Change in the Birthplace of American Rowing
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Watch a video interview with Dotty Brown, author of Boathouse Row.
The history of Philadelphia's Boathouse Row is both wide and deep. Dotty Brown, an avid rower and former editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, immersed herself in boathouse archives to provide a comprehensive history of rowing in Philadelphia. She takes readers behind the scenes to recount the era when rowing was the spectator sport of its time-and the subject of Thomas Eakins' early artwork-through the heyday of the famed Kelly dynasty, and the fight for women to get the right to row. (Yes, it really was a fight, and it took generations to win.)
With more than 160 photographs, a third of them in full color, Boathouse Row chronicles the "waves of change" as various groups of different races, classes, and genders fought for access to water and the sport. Chapters also discuss the architectural one-upmanship that defined Boathouse Row after Frank Furness designed the stunning and eclectic Undine Barge Club, and the regattas that continue to take place today on the Schuylkill River, including the forgotten forces that propelled high school rowing.
Beautifully written and illustrated, Boathouse Row will be a keepsake for rowers and spectators alike.
This publication was supported by a generous donation from H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest.
"Brown reveals numerous charismatic and talented personalities, tells a slew of frequently amusing and inspiring stories, and leaves the lucky reader understanding one of the prouder aspects of Philadelphia sports and recreational culture. Beautifully illustrated, this is the rare volume that both serves as a handsome coffee table book and as a first-rate read. It fills a gap in the literature and show remain the standard work on boat racing's own Philadelphia story for decades to come."
Dotty Brown is a former reporter and editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer. During her newspaper career, she edited numerous prize-winning projects, including one that won a Pulitzer Prize. She is also a member of the Vesper Boat Club. Visit her online at