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Thread: Philly->Center City->Center Square

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Philly->Center City->Center Square

    In the 18th century, it remained mostly an undeveloped lot, cut into four sections by Broad Street and High Street (now Market Street). In the late 1790's, however, after frightening epidemics of yellow fever, the city decided to purify the water supply by building the first public water works, with its principal facility at Center Square. Opened in 1801, the Center Square pump house was a handsome neoclassical building designed by Benjamin Latrobe and adorned with William Rush's fountain sculpture Water Nymph and Bittern. But the site proved too small for a growing city; within two decades the Center Square system gave way to new water works at Fairmount, and Latrobe's pump house was demolished in 1829.

    We start on South Broad at Chestnut St. looking north towards City Hall. They’ve been cleaning the façade for years now (and have done an amazing job) but the southern side has yet to be completed.



    Upscale dining establishemtns that target the unadventurous business traveler crowd the east side of South Broad St. Above them, dorms for students at the Art Institute.






    3 glorious floors of Border’s books. With the subway entrance across the street it’s perfect for a rainy day.








    Looking down Chestnut towards 15th St. This area of the city is on fire with luxury condo conversions. It’s overtaking Rittenhouse Square as the most expensive address in the city.


    Opposite borders is 3 floors of Tower Records. Equally convenient but over-priced.












    Looking south down Broad St.


    . . . and now for City Hall

    The Rise of City Hall: As population expanded westward, Center Square, now renamed Penn Square after the city's founder, regained the central position it has occupied in the original plan. As early as 1860, city leaders proposed offices for the site, and in 1870 the voters were asked to choose between Washington Square and Penn Square for the location for "New Public Buildings." Penn Square won the election handily, and construction began on the mammoth edifice that soon became known as City Hall.



    City Hall has a large interior courtyard that is open to the public from 5am to 10pm everyday – which allows people to continue on Market or Broad St. without having to walk all the way around the building.

    Designed by John McArthur, Jr., in the ornate French Second Empire style used for the Louvre in Paris, City Hall required thirty years to build. It occupies four and half acres, and its height of over 547 feet make it the tallest masonry-bearing building in the world. The remarkable Alexander Milne Calder and his assistance created more than 250 works of architectural sculptures for the building's exterior and interior. Most of the sculptures allegorical themes relation to the city's history, government, culture, commerce, and history.

    Before you enter the courtyard from the south side you have to pass beneath the upper floors and you’re greeted by . . .








    entering the courtyard . . .


    looking left . . .


    looking up . . .


    The most famous of Calder's sculptures is the figure of William Penn on top of City Hall tower. Over 36 feet high from toes to hat, and weighing more than 53,000 pounds, Calder's Penn clearly deserves his reputation as the largest man in Philadelphia. The statue faces northeast toward Penn Treaty Park, the site of the legendary treaty between and the Lenni Lenape Indians. Until 1986, as the result of the "gentlemen's agreement" among planners and developers, no building in Center City surpassed the brim of Penn's hat. The statue has become an unofficial logo for the city, for in many minds it challenges the Liberty Bell for the most recognizable symbol of Philadelphia.

    Looking north up Broad St. through the north entrance


    inside the north entrance . . .




    inside the east entrance . . .






    All around City Hall – South Penn Square . . .




    East Penn Square . . .














    Looking south from Dilworth Plaza


    Looking West down Market St.


    The dreaded Municipal Services Building – dreaded because if you’re going there in the first place you’re already at their mercy.


    The squeaky clean north side of City Hall.




    Across the street from City Hall is the Masonic Temple. Of course, this is all just coincidence.


    More of the plaza around the MSB. Note the giant chess pieces - a metaphor perhaps for how some perceive municipal government?


    Speaking of the conqueror type . . . I’ll never understand why fac-, errr, I mean, uhh, right-wingers insist on making this gesture. Why someone would cast it in bronze is another thing entirely. I can’t tell you how many times this statue of Frank Rizzo has had one arm band or another slipped on to it.


    The Clothespin at 15th & Market. A longtime landmark and meeting place. The Clothespin is the center of a spiral staircase that leads down to the El and Subway.


    When you pull into Suburban Station on a train the conductors usually say “Penn Center! Suburban Station!” This would be the Penn Center part . . .


    . . . and this would be the Suburban Station part


    Heading west from Suburban Station (16th&JFK) 30th St. Station serves as the terminus of JFK Blvd.




    LOVE Park (properly: JFK Plaza) Looking northwest up the Parkway towards Logan Square and the Art Museum.


    Just to the left of the fountain you can make out the Art Museum in the distance


    Mayor Street insisted on winning the skateboard war once and for all. While he didn’t completely destroy it for them he didn’t do a bad job. Wax still coats many a ledge in the park.


    Looking southwest towards Rittenhouse Square.
    Last edited by jresta; 29 Sep 2004 at 1:25 PM.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    That part of Philadelphia is as urban as any part of Manhattan. Magnificent, and perhaps a tad overwhelming. Why is City Hall's courtyard always a mess?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    That part of Philadelphia is as urban as any part of Manhattan. Magnificent, and perhaps a tad overwhelming. Why is City Hall's courtyard always a mess?
    haha - City Hall's courtyard is always a mess (i think) for the same reason that a lot of things about this city are always a mess. As the Lonely Planet travel guide puts it "it's a city without bourgeois pretentions" - to me that's a nicer way of saying blue collar, which is a nicer way of saying "trashy".

    To me it just means low expectations. People don't expect more so they don't demand more. The police don't go after QOL crimes and public works agencies don't think twice about tearing up a street and leaving it like that for a week or two before they come back to it. These kinds of things are remedied when people complain but unfortunately most of the complaining comes from Society Hill, Rittenhouse, Fairmount, Spruce Hill, and other similar neighborhoods.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

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