If you’ve ever travelled over the Ben Franklin Bridge and headed through town via 8th Street, you’ve surely noticed the terrible PPA parking garage that “arches over” 8th Street between Arch and Filbert. Its miserable aesthetic comes off even worse when you consider what it replaced when it was built in the mid-1960s.
8th and Arch in 1959
Philaphilia tells us that the construction of this monstrosity was actually celebrated in its time, as it made it much easier for suburban shoppers to park when visiting the adjacent Strawbridge’s or Lit Bros. department stores. Somehow, it looked a little less scary during the Johnson administration.
Right after it was finished
Over the years, however, this building has held up, shall we say, extremely poorly. Retail spaces on 8th Street have (understandably) struggled mightily,…
The Southeast corner of Broad and Locust would appear as stable a corner as any on the Avenue of the Arts. Here stands the massive DoubleTree Hotel. However, the history of the location listed as 237 S. Broad St. is distinguished by constant change, dating back more than a century-and-a-half. Indeed, the image shown here below, borrowed from Hexamer & Locher’s 1858 Philadelphia Atlas, indicates that Adam’s Express Freight Depot occupied the space where DoubleTree’s grand atrium now stands.
Hotel for freight in 1858
According to Wikipedia, Adam’s Express was one of the first and largest shipping concerns in the United States prior to the Civil War. In fact, Adams used its strong positioning in the South to distribute anti-slavery newspapers below the Mason-Dixon line. And in 1849, escaped Virginia slave Henry ‘Box’…
The structure at 1622 Chestnut St. conjures images of men speaking into waffle-shaped microphones with funny, high-pitched voices and slick looking moustaches. An art-deco survivor flanked by chain stores like Men’s Wearhouse and RadioShack, the building shown below in a photo taken from the Temple University Libraries Digital Collection, was erected in 1933.
In 1933. Half photo, half illustration, all deco
In just a decade of operation, the small AM station WCAU had moved from the back of an electrician’s Market Street shop to this location. According to Alan J. Heavens’ article for Philly.com, this structure was the first building in the United States designed with the expressed intent of housing a radio station. Under the ownership of the newly forged Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), the radio station began broadcasting at the familiar frequency of 1210. The image…