Thursday, January 28, 2010

Then and Now: Southwest corner of Juniper and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia

c. 1920 - 2009

According records held by the Philadelphia Historical Commission, the Juniper Building at 1324 Walnut Street is the work of architect Arthur S. Love, completed in 1915. The original photograph however, has been dated as from 1921.

In my view, this picture is a true gem within the city's amazing photographic records. It seems surprising that such an artful photograph should be found within the Public Works collection. I find that there is something enchanting in the movement-blurred cars, the steamship office sign, the glimpse of proud workers, and the way the scaffolding seems to soar into the bright sky.

A horizontally aligned comparison may be found here.

Source: Philadelphia Architects and Buildings

Original photo: "Public Works-17905-0." 1921. Philadelphia City Archives. Philadelphia Department of Records. 3 Dec. 2009.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Then and Now: 1316 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia


The building at 1316 Chestnut Street seems to date back to the early 20th century, and in 1955 was home to Bartons Bonbonniere, a candy shop. Since then, its upper stories have been lopped off, and I'm not sure what occupies the space now, if anything.

Edit: Bartons, as I have quite recently learned, was a legendary purveyor of chocolates founded in New York in 1938, widely known as a Jewish company. Bartons is also remembered for its great rivalry with Barricini's. Interestingly enough, Barricini had its own Center City store just four doors down from Bartons at 1324 Chestnut Street.

The Kosher Chocolate Wars [The Atlantic]
A Seder Different From All Other Seders [The Atlantic]

Bender, Charles J. and John McWhorter. "Public works-43013-10." 1955. Philadelphia City Archives. Philadelphia Department of Records. 21 Jan. 2010.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Then and Now: Northwest corner of Broad and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia


The neoclassical Girard Trust Bank building at the northwest corner of Broad and Chestnut Streets is one of the last and lesser-known works of Frank Furness, completed in 1908 after he had largely abandoned the uniquely exuberant style of his earlier work. Its great main hall is now the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, also housed in the attached Girard Trust Company tower (1931).

The tower immediately behind the Girard Bank to the left is the Morris Building, another late and largely forgotten work of Furness. Damaged by the One Meridian Plaza fire in 1991, the 21-story structure was demolished in 2001 by developer Tim Mahoney. Alas, redevelopment plans for the site, including the most recently proposed Waldorf-Astoria hotel and residences, seem to remain in limbo.

1. Philadelphia Architects and Buildings
2. Saffron, Inga. "The city's loss is also the city's gain." Philadelphia Inquirer. 21 Aug. 2001.
Original photo: "Historic Commission-49785-0." 1962. Philadelphia City Archives. Philadelphia Department of Records. 21 Jan. 2010.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Then and Now: A view down SongZhi Road, Taipei


Not knowing of any easily accessible repository of historic images of Taipei, I'm making do with some of my own photos from the past few years. Fortunately, the city seems to grow fast enough in a few places for these montages to be decently interesting less than 3 years later.

This is part of the city's Xinyi district viewed from one of Taipei 101's elevated walkways. The 2007 photo shows the Citibank building still under construction, as well as one of the cranes for the now soon-to-be-completed President Hotel tower.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Then and Now: 107-115 South 11th Street, Philadelphia


Philadelphia has much to thank its educational and medical institutions for. In recent decades, despite the city's overall economic decline, these two sectors have achieved significant, stable growth, and now account for nearly 20 percent of the city's employment base.

Unfortunately, much of this growth came with a hidden cost - the steady erosion of the city's older streetscapes. Jefferson University Hospital proved to be a particularly bad neighbor for Washington Square West, replacing several dense, historic blocks with a series of faceless towers, thereby severing the connections between Market East and neighborhoods to its south.

Original photo: Carollo, R. and John McWhorter. "Historic Commission-3300-12." 1965. Philadelphia City Archives. Philadelphia Department of Records. 14 Dec. 2009.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Then and Now: 335-341 South Street, Philadelphia


Commercial storefront awnings, once a ubiquitous presence in North American cities, have become somewhat of a rarity on South Street. Ishkabibble's Eatery, a true South Street institution at the age of 30, was the last of its neighbors to maintain an awning and a well-preserved storefront lintel/cornice. Presumably, the lintel is still there, "temporarily" hidden behind the new sign and light fixture installed several years ago.

Original image: Howell, Charles L. "Public Works-28479-0-F." 1930. Philadelphia City Archives. Philadelphia Department of Records. 17 Dec. 2009.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

City Hall Tower views Then and Now, Los Angeles edition

(photo credits: Associated Press and Scott Harrison)

Seeing as the six Philadelphia City Hall tower posts from this past fall have proved fairly popular, I thought I'd start off the new year with a related link - an LA Times interactive feature which pairs six 1951 photographs from Los Angeles City Hall tower with new photographs taken nearly 50 years later.

The pictures reveal some of the striking large-scale transformations that have taken place in downtown LA, including the obliteration and reconstruction of Bunker Hill and the emergence of the Civic Center complex. Thanks to the relatively large image size of the carefully alignmed photographs, one can even spot plenty of changes on the level of individual blocks and buildings, including the replacement of entire blocks by single structures and the encroachment of surface parking. It's quite fascinating, even with little familiarity with the sprawling West Coast metropolis. Major kudos to the LA Times and photographer Scott Harrison.

Posting has been light as of late due to a busy end of the year and holiday season. Look forward to more content soon in 2010. Happy new year!

More mid-20th century photographs of Los Angeles [Skyscraperpage Forum]