Monday, June 14, 2010

Then and Now: Southwest corner of 3rd and Arch Streets, Philadelphia


On October 13, 1856, a jewelry merchant named George Gordon purchased a four-story warehouse building at 300 Arch Street. By November 20, just over a month later, the original structure had been demolished, and construction had begun on a five-story replacement later known as the George Gordon Building. The Gordon Building is a relatively early work of cast-iron commercial architecture, whose popularity peaked later in the 19th century.

The building had a fairly narrow frontage on Arch Street measuring less than 16 feet (15'-9''). Standing in the pocket park in its place today, it's a bit difficult to imagine that any substantial structure once stood here. After falling into substantial decay, the lot was purchased in 1962 by the Religious Society of Friends, which owned the adjacent 5-story office building at 302-304 Arch Street, as well as the Arch Street Meeting House occupying the rest of the block. The presence of a vacant and deteriorating warehouse adjacent to the Friends' properties posed a growing safety concern, and it was likely for this reason that the Gordon Building was demolished the following year.

A horizontally aligned comparison may be found here.

Source: "George Gordon Building." Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) no. PA,51-PHILA,258.
Original photograph: Robinson, Cervin. "PA-1065 - North and east elevations." 1959. Historic American Buildings Survey. American Memory. Library of Congress. 12 June 2010.

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