Sunday, April 10, 2011
Lost Building of the Week
The Jayne Building
242-244 Chestnut St.
Alright motherfuckers, it’s time to get serious. We’re going to talk about the Jayne Building. It may not look like much today but in 1850 constructing a 10 storey office building was like building two Burj Khalifas on top of each other just to drain the lizard off the roof. Up to this point, the tallest office building in the goddamn WORLD was five storeys. If 10 stories doesn’t seem tall to you, go walk up 10 flights of stairs without feeling like a dead dog’s dick.
That’s right… when the Jayne Building was built, it had no elevators-- just a mechanical hoist that could move equipment up and down. Lazy-ass employees were known to ride the hoist up, which must have been pretty scary. Imagine standing on a wood palette held by chains up a pitch-black shaft for 10 floors. You have to realize though, in 1850 the Jayne Building was one of the most prestigious buildings in the world. You would have made out with a dead rat’s ass for a chance to fall off that hoist to your excruciatingly painful death.
The best part of the building was a wooden tower that served as America’s first public observation deck. Old-timey people put on their smelly pit-stained Sunday best and climb the stairs all the way up to the dizzying height of 130 feet. From there, they could observe the sea of brick over shit-strewn streets under the permanently grey sky that was the city of Philadelphia at the time. It must of put a tooth decay ridden smile on their curly-mustached faces to know that the smelly, dirty, riot-happy, virtually lawless Philadelphia of that age would have more superiority in America than it would have before or since. The tower was lost in a fire in 1872, and it was national fucking news at the time. It was like the spire of the Empire State Building falling off. You would hear about it.
The rest of the Jayne Building stood for 108 years until it was kicked down by a toddler in 1958 for the great disaster known as Independence National Historical Grass Lot Collection or whatever the fuck its called. I can understand that the 200 block of chestnut was a huge shithole at the time… I once met an old man that told me a story about getting high with squatters in the vicinity of the Jayne building in the late 40’s… but considering the way the Preservation Alliance and the Historical Commission bitch and moan about a 7 year old building getting a façade restoration, you would think SOMEONE would have known the history of the Jayne building and stood in the way before it was pushed over by a pissing bum. Cocks.