One of the oldest neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Frankford was originally settled by Swedes in 1638, although a Native American village appeared on a map from 1655. Frankford was named for a group of German Pietists, similar to the Quakers, who came from Frankurt, Germany.
The area includes Frankford Avenue, the first legally laid out country road in the Province of Pennsylvania. Initially called the King's Highway, it was traveled by Lafayette and many of the delegates to the Continental Congress. Frankford was part of Oxford Township until 1800, when it withdrew and incorporated as a borough.
The Frankford library began in 1823, when the Library and Reading Room Association was founded. In 1857, the Oxford Library gave its books to the Library and Reading Room after space was provided in the Wright's Industrial and Beneficial Institute Building.
During the Civil War, the Library Room was used as a hospital, and in 1900, the library became part of the Free Library. By 1906, a new Carnegie-funded library was opened at Frankford Avenue and Overington Street near the site where the first horse-drawn trolleys were built.
The current library has undergone two major renovations. In 1959, the library was remodeled inside and out, replacing the neo-classic building with a modern structure of steel and glass. Finally, in 1997 the library was renovated as part of the "Changing Lives" campaign, which refurbished branches and brought Internet access to every library.