Steam Punk

What could be more steam punk than a steam plant? The Willow Steam Generating plant on 9th and Willow was built about 30 years too late (1927) to meet the Victorian-futuristic definition of the term, yet it has such an abundance of dials and pipes and gauges and valves that the comparison is hard to resist.

As Harry Kyriakodis remarked last week, Willow Steam is indeed the prototype of the hulking industrial building that broods over the landscape. And although we try to avoid anthropomorphizing buildings too much here on the Daily, this rusty, asbestos-filled eyesore has a powerful presence that might be best summed up as “baleful” on both the outside, and the inside.

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.



3 Comments


  1. I was recently in this location also and have just uploaded some pics to my Flickr.

    http://goo.gl/rsMKf

  2. Awesome photos. Another great location for the sequel to “12 Monkeys”!

  3. How did you get these pics? I work near this building and was interested. (After seeing the trolley tracks coming from the building) I called my Uncle who is a Philadelphia historian. He stated there were several companies in that building. he had his first job there. It was called the M&M knitting Mills. I looked it up but I can’t find anything.

Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
Rare Books Department At FLP Examines A City In Transition

Rare Books Department At FLP Examines A City In Transition

November 9, 2018  |  News

Affordable housing, displacement and gentrification, demolition for redevelopment--sounds a lot like today's local headlines, but Philly has been dealing with these issues for decades. This and more is addressed in the new exhibition, "Philadelphia: The Changing City," now on view at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Ali Roseberry-Polier has the review. > more

Dispatch From the Dolomites: Lamenting the Loss of Northern Italy's Philly Twin

Dispatch From the Dolomites: Lamenting the Loss of Northern Italy’s Philly Twin

November 7, 2018  |  Vantage

Contributor Ann de Forest dials home from Italy where she visits a little chapel that, until recently, had a sibling on Christian Street > more

Secluded Stone Stairway On Lincoln Drive Revealed

Secluded Stone Stairway On Lincoln Drive Revealed

November 2, 2018  |  Vantage

A mysterious set of stairs next to Monoshone Creek leads Sharon Barr on a path to uncover its origins > more

The Ghastly Tale Of South Philly’s Cult Of The Holy Ghost

The Ghastly Tale Of South Philly’s Cult Of The Holy Ghost

October 30, 2018  |  Vantage

A secretive cult dedicated to the worship of a Swiss woman met a horrific end in 19th century South Philly. Ryan Briggs unearths the grim details > more

How to Save A Slice Of Neighborhood Green Space

How to Save A Slice Of Neighborhood Green Space

October 25, 2018  |  Walk the Walk

Queen Village resident David O'Donnell is on a mission to fill his neighborhood with verdant pocket parks. He shares his playbook on how to save slivers of green space with HC contributor Joe Brin > more

A Century Of Public Events On The Benjamin Franklin Parkway

A Century Of Public Events On The Benjamin Franklin Parkway

October 23, 2018  |  Last Light

Patrick Glennon takes a look at big public shindigs and the making of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway through rarely seen photographs from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania > more