Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Then and Now: Southeast Corner of 2nd and Market, Philadelphia


Though its history as such seems well-hidden today, the corner of 2nd and Market was once the nexus of colonial Philadelphia. Originally known as High Street, for the first half of Philadelphia's history its median was occupied by market sheds which began at the docks and stretched as far west as the city had grown. Completed in 1710, the city's town hall and courthouse stood at this intersection in the center of High Street - at the city's civic and commercial core. By 1850, the High Street Market had stretched as far as 11 blocks to the west. The city's epicenter however, had shifted as well. The town hall was demolished in 1837, and the market sheds were abolished in 1858, only one year after the official renaming of High Street as Market Street. By the mid-20th century, the area now known as Old City had become a largely dilapidated warehouse and slum district.

Nonetheless, the corner has had some significance in Philly's recent past. It stands at the heart of a revitalized Old City, and it was here that Stephen Starr launched his first foray into restaurateur-dom over a decade ago by recreating the very retro Continental diner as a hip martini bar, planting the seeds of a restaurant empire that has been the major figurehead of Philadelphia's dining renaissance

Sources: Tatum, George B. Penn's Great Town. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1961.

Original Image: "Historic Commission-12825-34." 1972. Philadelphia City Archives. PhillyHistory.org. Philadelphia Department of Records. Oct. 26, 2008. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/MediaStream.ashx?mediaId=152629.

Picture of Town Hall: Public Works: 13112-0." 1916. Philadelphia City Archives. PhillyHistory.org. Philadelphia Department of Records. Nov. 11, 2008. http://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/MediaStream.ashx?mediaId=59923

No comments: