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. Follow him on Instagram



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
Sharswood Tour Spotlights African American Landmark

Sharswood Tour Spotlights African American Landmark

February 19, 2019  |  News

Efforts to save the former home and studio of Philadelphia Black Renaissance artist Dox Thrash will take center stage with a neighborhood tour and discussion. Kessler Thibert has the story > more

Exhuming A Pyramid Of Petrol Along The

Exhuming A Pyramid Of Petrol Along The “Golden Mile”

February 15, 2019  |  Vantage

Greg Prichard takes us on a suburban expedition to find Vincent Kling's lost, modernist gas station on City Avenue > more

Conkling-Armstrong House & Jewelers Row District Go Before Designation Committee

Conkling-Armstrong House & Jewelers Row District Go Before Designation Committee

February 12, 2019  |  News

Starr Herr-Cardillo has this roundup of local register nominations on the agenda at the February meeting of the Philadelphia Historical Commission's Designation Committee > more

Under Construction: Charles Library At Temple University

Under Construction: Charles Library At Temple University

February 8, 2019  |  Last Light

Something Snøhetta this ways comes. Michael Bixler takes us to the quad at Temple University where its new library is currently taking shape > more

A Life Of Community Service For Theaters In North Philly

A Life Of Community Service For Theaters In North Philly

February 6, 2019  |  Vantage

The legendary Uptown Theater is gearing up for its 90th anniversary this month with a new fundraising campaign and the lighting of its original marquee. To mark the occasion, cinema scholar Joan McGettigan gives us a social history lesson on the neighborhood movie houses near North Broad Street > more

Archaic Expectations: Freeing Female Roles From A Dollhouse In Society Hill

Archaic Expectations: Freeing Female Roles From A Dollhouse In Society Hill

February 1, 2019  |  Vantage

In this essay Mickey Herr examines women's roles and social norms through the history of a dollhouse spanning seven generations > more