With East Market Stirring, Girard Square Sheds Its Skin

 

Now you see me, now you don’t | Photo: Michael Bixler

N. Snellenberg & Co., 1899, SE corner 12th and Market | Photo: The Official Office Building Directory and Architectural Handbook of Philadelphia 1899 , courtesy of Philadelphia Architects and Buildings

N. Snellenberg & Co., 1899, SE corner 12th and Market | Photo: The Official Office Building Directory and Architectural Handbook of Philadelphia 1899 , courtesy of Philadelphia Architects and Buildings

The city’s 135 square miles are shifting like tectonic plates as we rumble into an era of new growth and dynamic reinvestment. For decades, decidedly low end buildings like the repurposed stump of the once grand Snellenburg & Company department store on Girard Square at 1100 Market Street embodied the city’s receding expectations.

Demolition of the site began last December and will near completion in the next few months. National Real Estate Development’s East Market project will transform Market and Chestnut Street between 11th and 12th Streets into an urban playground. The $230 million first phase of Girard Square’s redevelopment includes a 17 story residential and retail tower that will be accompanied by a network of small pedestrian walkways and retail space designed to evoke a neighborhood shopping district–what Inga Saffron of the Inquirer has dubbed the “anti-Gallery.” Along with the Gallery, about to reimagined by its owner PREIT, and the Lits Building, with its rather blazing digital display, East Market is a play to capture the street’s former Ragtime glory. Across the street, Francis Kimball’s brilliant Reading Terminal Headhouse is waiting.

In what is less of a tribute and more of a parting glance at the quickly disintegrating Snellenburg building in its final days, here is a snapshot of time passing away and a look into the kinetic energy of change.

***

To launch the gallery, click any of the photos below.

About the author

Michael Bixler is a writer, photographer, and managing editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a former arts and entertainment reporter with Mountain Xpress weekly in Asheville, North Carolina and a native of South Carolina. Bixler has a keen interest in adaptive reuse, underappreciated architecture, contemporary literature and art, and forward-thinking dialogue about people and place. mmbixler.tumblr.com

Send a message!



6 Comments


  1. I used to fantasize about seeing all of these hideous buildings being demolished but never actually expected to see it happen. Hopefully this project is successful and leads you to write another piece, in a few years, detailing the demolition of the building anchored by Staples.

  2. The contrast between the original building and the last rendition is shocking. Good riddance to that ugly old thing!

  3. One thing I didn’t see among the posted photos is a glimpse of the original Snellenberg’s facade. I was around the demolition site on Market St today. If you stand by the CVS entrance at 11th and look up across the street to the second story, you can see a little bit of the the ornate Snellenberg’s stump where they’ve stripped away a short section of the 60s-era facade that was covering it. Sorry I didn’t have my camera with me. Catch it while you can.

    • Hi Jayfar,

      Very cool. Thanks for the heads up. Hopefully more will be revealed as they continue to remove that cover.

    • I was here 3/3, and the facade was very exposed. I was hopeful they would be preserving it but it doesn’t seem that’s the case. Now I regret not taking some pictures!

  4. Buh-bye!

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
On 40th Street, New Life For A Long-Hidden Furness

On 40th Street, New Life For A Long-Hidden Furness

October 18, 2017  |  Vantage

What's it take to restore this early Furness? Hidden City talks to developer Tom Lussenhop about the tear-down disaster ongoing across the city and his plans for the former West Philadelphia Institute > more

Praise And Protest At Historical Commission Meeting

Praise And Protest At Historical Commission Meeting

October 17, 2017  |  News

Applause and anger filled the room at the monthly Historical Commission meeting on Friday. GroJLart has the details > more

The True Center Of The City Revealed

The True Center Of The City Revealed

October 13, 2017  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

City Hall may be the "heart" of Philadelphia, but an unassuming corner in North Philly is the true center of the city. Harry K. explores the evolution of Penn's greene country towne and how Philadelphia has a history of being the center of attention > more

LIGHTS! MUSIC! ACTION! Historic Lansdowne Theater Poised For A Comeback

LIGHTS! MUSIC! ACTION! Historic Lansdowne Theater Poised For A Comeback

October 11, 2017  |  Vantage

After 30 years' slumber, Lansdowne's sumptuous Art Deco movie palace is ready to wake up, and rouse Main Street too, with music and community spirit. Ben Leech has the story > more

Wish You Were Here: Postcards From The Past Recall

Wish You Were Here: Postcards From The Past Recall “Real Philadelphia”

October 10, 2017  |  Vantage

The Athenaeum of Philadelphia's new exhibition, "Real Philadelphia: Selections from the Robert M. Skaler Postcard Collection," puts elusive images of working class city life in the limelight. Contributor Karen Chernick has the review > more

Designing The Future Of Healthcare With Stephen Klasko

Designing The Future Of Healthcare With Stephen Klasko

October 4, 2017  |  Vantage

Dr. Stephen Klasko wants to disrupt traditional hospital care and integrate medicine into our everyday life. Through service and information delivery systems similar to Netflix, Apple stores, and virtual reality, the president and CEO of Jefferson Healthcare System believes the future of our well being lies in smart design. Contributor Hilary Jay, founder of DesignPhiladelphia, sits down with Dr. Klasko to discuss breaking the status quo of the medical industry with user-minded health care > more