Travels Through The Ghost City

 

With rising land values, Philadelphia’s traditional urban fabric is under growing pressure. Churches, retail stores, small factories, and neighborhood-scaled workshops have all been the victim recently of a hot real estate market. We’re not always sure the new buildings are worth the loss of the old ones, but change is part of the thrill of a dynamic city.

The architect Andrew Evans has been observing all this change recently. His time-lapse images–one of which is available for purchase HERE through our online store, Hidden City Mercantile–capture the process as one building disappears and another rises.

PNB letters being removed via helicopter | Photo: Andrew Evans

PNB letters being removed via helicopter | Photo: Andrew Evans

Read Brad Maule’s piece on the removal of the PNB letters HERE. Purchase a print of this image HERE.

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1118-1128 Chestnut | Photo: Andrew Evans

For a nuanced appraisal of the Coward Shoe Store, located at 1118-1120 Chestnut, and designed by Louis Kahn and Oscar Stonorov, click HERE. Brickstone plans call for 96 apartments and 80,000 square feet of retail space, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

3rd Regiment Armory  | Photo: Andrew Evans

3rd Regiment Armory | Photo: Andrew Evans

For some historical background on the 3rd Regiment Armory, and how it came to be vacant, click HERE. A six-story apartment complex is under construction.

Ortlieb's Brewery complex, Poplar Street between 3rd and American Streets | Photo: Andrew Evans

Ortlieb’s Brewery complex, Poplar Street between 3rd and American Streets | Photo: Andrew Evans

For photos of the Ortlieb’s complex before it was torn down, click HERE. For an interview with artist Daniel Davison, who created a terrific video about planting a flag on top of the Ortlieb’s malt house, click HERE. Bart Blatstein’s Tower Investments has not announced plans for the site.

Methodist Episcopal Church, 40th and Sansom Streets | Photo: Andrew Evans

Methodist Episcopal Church, 40th and Sansom Streets | Photo: Andrew Evans

For a look at what the Methodist Episcopal Church might have been if it had been adaptively reused, along with some great historical background, click HERE. A two-story retail building has been completed at the site.

John F. Kennedy Vocational Center/Marine Corps Depot of Supplies, Schuyljkill Avenue between Bainbridge and Catharine | Photo: Andrew Evans

John F. Kennedy Vocational Center/Marine Corps Depot of Supplies, Schuyljkill Avenue between Bainbridge and Catharine | Photo: Andrew Evans

Used by the Marine Corps Motor Transport Division during World War II for painting, lettering, repairing and storing vehicles. The Shadow has the story in his recent article about the building’s demolition. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will replace it with a 23-story research tower.

Former Independence Visitorss Center, 3rd and Chestnut Streets | Photo: Andrew Evans

Former Independence Visitor Center, 3rd and Chestnut Streets | Photo: Andrew Evans

The Independence Visitor Center is being replaced by the Museum of the American Revolution, which is now under construction.

Youth Study Center, 20th and the Parkway | Photo: Andrew Evans

Youth Study Center, 20th and the Parkway. Now the Barnes Museum | Photo: Andrew Evans

Former home of Springfield Beverage, Schuylkill Avenue at the South Street Bridge | Photo: Andrew Evans

Former home of Springfield Beverage, Schuylkill Avenue at the South Street Bridge | Photo: Andrew Evans

Dairy plant at Photo: Andrew Evans

Former milk processing plant, 24th and South Streets | Photo: Andrew Evans

This dairy plant, which had most recently been used as a parking garage, has been replaced with a faux-colonial development from Toll Brothers. The abysmal design was eviscerated by our own Nathaniel Popkin in 2012.

15th and Chestnut Streets | Photo: Andrew Evans

15th and Chestnut Streets | Photo: Andrew Evans

A three-story glass box that will house a Cheesecake Factory, among other tenants is under construction. Inga Saffron lauded the design by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, which created the prototype for the Apple Stores.

US Post Office Annex, 30th and Chestnut | Photo: Andrew Evans

US Post Office Annex, 30th and Chestnut | Photo: Andrew Evans

The demolition of the US Post Office Annex paved the way for Brandywine Realty Trust’s Cira Centre South development. Stephen Stofka critiqued the multi-phase development’s first building, The Evo apartment tower, as part of an appraisal of University City’s new apartment construction.

Mid-City YWCA, 2000 block of Chestnut Street | Photo: Andrew Evans

Mid-City YWCA, 2000 block of Chestnut Street | Photo: Andrew Evans

Once the Girard Craftsman’s Club, which made a failed attempt to turn it into the first Masonic Hotel in the world. The Shadow has the story. Soon to be a 110 unit apartment building with retail on the first floor.

Franklin Motor Lodge, 21st and Hamilton Streets | Photo: Andrew Evans

Franklin Motor Lodge, 21st and Hamilton Streets | Photo: Andrew Evans

To be replaced by a 293-unit luxury apartment building anchored by a Whole Foods.

Peter Woodall is the co-editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, and a former newspaper reporter with the Biloxi Sun Herald and the Sacramento Bee. He worked as a producer for Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane and wrote a column about neighborhood bars for PhiladelphiaWeekly.com.



2 Comments


  1. I know I am the only person around who was sad to see the Youth Study Center demolished. It was a noble and creative attempt, but was sadly misplaced.

    These are very interesting photographs.

    • You’re not the only one. I thought that was an incredible building. It was really beautiful watching it be demolished, however. The London plane trees were shedding their bark and the building in the background was losing its facade.

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