With Hurricane Irene on her way, let’s take a look at the worst hurricane to hit Philadelphia in modern history. Hurricane Hazel ripped her way through North America in October of 1954 and this thing was a monster. It hit Haiti first, and after it made landfall at the border between the Carolinas, it lost very little intensity. The storm stayed strong over land and seared a path north all the way to Canada. While it passed through Western Pennsylvania and Western New York, it’s effects were felt in Philadelphia to the extreme.
Ninety-four mph winds were recorded at the Philadelphia Airport. Dozens of church spires were lost and haven’t been replaced to this day. Some historic theaters, notably the Maustbaum and the Standard, suffered major damage. The Delaware River overflowed and it came up through the sewers on Delaware Ave.
The Provident Life & Trust Company was initially an L-shaped building designed by famed architect Frank Furness. The more famous side, 409 Chestnut St., was home to the bank entrance while the other wing at 42 S. 4th St. was used for the insurance company portion. The style of this building was not typical of its designer; it was truly an experiment in tension and energy which set it apart from both the adjacent Bankers Row buildings and other Victorian works by the architect.
Interior Shot. Both historical images from Wikipedia
The modernized Gothic Façade of the bank portion at 409 Chestnut Street, completed in 1879, pushes and tugs the eyes about its crag-like surface. It reveals an energized and powerful force harnessed within a singular enormous interior room, and all somehow contained within a decorated exterior. Furness’ initial structure won acclaim.…