Steam Punk

February 29, 2012 | by Peter Woodall

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.


About the Author

Peter Woodall Peter Woodall is the Project Director of Hidden City Philadelphia. 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


  1. Lawrence Aberle says:

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

  2. jjegan3 says:

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

  3. WJones says:

    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.

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