Thursday, June 17, 2010

Then and Now: Northeast corner of 7th and Market Streets, Philadelphia


The 601 block of Market Street was cleared in the mid-1960s to make way for a federal courthouse and office building complex, occupying the entire site bounded by 6th, 7th, Market, and Arch Streets. Part of the massive Independence Mall urban renewal project, it was designed by a team of architects including Carroll, Grisdale & Van Allen; Stewart, Noble, Class & Partners; and Bellante & Clauss. Completed in 1968, the James A. Byrne Courthouse and William J. Green Federal Building campus suffers from typical design failures of postwar Modernism, such as a barren plaza along 6th Street and long blank walls along its other three sides.

The same block viewed in 1960. Photo courtesey of

The real tragedy of course, lies in what it replaced - a dense block of mid-rise late 19th century commercial buildings. In terms of scale and architecture, it was not much different from nearby commercial blocks along 5th, 6th, Chestnut, and Arch Streets, once at the heart the city's business district. Unfortunately, extremely little of that area remains today, thanks to ill-conceived urban renewal. Photographs taken just a few years before the block's destruction show few signs of excessive vacancy or deterioration. They hardly suggest a district in irreversible decline, calling into question the alleged necessity for the large scale demolition that took place.

Source: Philadelphia Architects and Buildings
1. Carollo, R. "Department of Public Property-41256-0." 1960. Philadelphia City Archives. Philadelphia Department of Records. 17 Jun. 2010.
2. Eisenman, George A. "PA-1441-1 - General View of 613-637 Market Street (from right to left), from southwest." 1965.
American Memory. Library of Congress. 17 June 2010.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ouch. RIP the 601 block of Market. It is sorely missed.