If you’re on foot you’re going to Logan Square. If you’re driving you’re going past Logan Circle.
The original Northwest Square provided burial plots, pasturage, and a for public executions - a gallows stood here until 1823. In 1825, the square was renamed for James Logan, who had served as secretary to William Penn and chief justice to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The Ben Franklin Parkway cuts a strong diagonal across the grid of Center City from City Hall to the Art Museum. The need to carry 10 lanes of traffic between City Hall . . .
. . . and the then yet to be built Art Museum
the need must’ve been intense back in the 1930’s because it trumped everything in its path. Logan Square was no exception and was dissected into 5 parts.
The Circle in the Square: Logan Square entered the 20th century as a pleasant but modest area of trees, flowers, and walkways. But its size and appearance changed dramatically with the adoption of Jacques Griber's Parkway plan of 1919. Griber, a French architect, created the final design for the city's great diagonal boulevard, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and like a jewel at its center he placed a remodeled Logan Square. Basing his concepts on the Place de la Concorde, Griber designed a large traffic circle in the square with space for a monument and formal gardens in the middle. The square's western boundary, originally close to 19th street, was extended to 20th. As the square became a link between Center City and the green belt of the upper Parkway, the surrounding area changed predominantly residential neighborhood to a local for major cultural institutions such as the Franklin Institute and the Free Library.
The Franklin Institute
The Free Library – people take it for granted the association between “Library” and “Free” but it wasn’t always that way. Franklin started it here in Philly as “the Free Library of Philadelphia” and so it remains.
The Museum of Natural Sciences
There was apparently a building boom of those round hotel buildings in the early 80’s. They had a quite an impact on the development of the lower Parkway.
The concentration of hotels is much closer to downtown than the rest of the Parkway. Most out-of-towners think Center City is synonymous with “downtown.” When people here say “downtown” they usually mean a more specific area within Center City. That being the area between Chestnut and Arch from 15th to 22nd St with its large concentration of modern office towers.
Unfortunately, suburban do-gooders who are on a mission to save the souls of city heathens set up shop every evening (with their grease trucks) along the shoulders of the Parkway and serve free hot meals to anyone in need. The result: You don’t just wind up with a lot of homeless – you wind up with an encampment. This is guy is “traveling lightly” it’s not rare that you see cots and mosquito netting.
So that’s Logan “Square” and a bit of the Parkway.
Coming up - the last in the series - Center Square/City Hall