Thursday, June 16, 2011

Empty Lot of the Week-- June 16th

Washington Shame Lot

Parallelling Washington Avenue from 15th to 13th.

The Horror! Image by Google
                   This Empty Lot is the lot every Philaphile thinks of when the someone says "Lot" around them. Even if someone says "Thanks a lot!", a Philaphile cringes and yells "Broad and Washington!!! DAMN YOU!!!" to the sky like a vicious but nerdy wolf. This lot represents the shame of this great city. There's simply no excuse for this lot to exist. It has value from it's location, value from its history, and value from all the possibilities of what can exist there. Instead, what do we get? A crappy Cirque du Soleil Tent Farm every few years.
                  The corner of Broad and Washington was once a bustling vibrant center of transit and manufacturing. Back when it was called Prime Street, the city's first in-town train station was right at the corner. The Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad Station was the predecessor of Broad Street Station. It was the only way to go to and from all points south of Philadelphia, which means that all those soldiers who needed to travel south to get to the Civil War went through the site of the Shame Lot. They also returned home through the same.

Early Philaphile Frank Taylor drew a picture of it when it was called the Southern and Western Station.
                    A freight station was built next door in 1876. The trainshed for that building is still half-standing, now serving as a crappy food distribution company. You can see it in the upper right portion of the picture at the top of this article. Across the street from the PWB Station was John Wanamaker's Clothing Factory. This block-long building still stood until the late 1990's shortly after the freight tracks running down Washington were removed. Together, these buildings formed an actual city streetscape on what is now a barren fucking desert.

Passenger and Freight Station on the left, Wanamaker's Clothing Factory on the right. At this distance, you couldn't read the City Hall clock, so it would turn off at 8:57pm and turn back on at 9pm so you could set your watch.
                     Industrial buildings and yards occupied all the Washington-side parts of this Bermuda Fuckangle and rowhouses filled the innards. The PWB was knocked the fuck down in the 20's and most of the other buildings were completely out of use by the late 1960's. They sat and rotted until they got knocked the fuck down. After that, a 20,000 Mile March of the Renderings came. Proposal after proposal after proposal for what would fill this Death Lake of Denial. If I showed you a picture of each rendering, this article would reach the fucking moon.
                    Here's some from the last few years... I know there's more out there. I remember seeing a few of them in the newspaper in the early 2000's.

This one was pretty cool but the NIMBY's didn't like the height and the developer is a dumbass. It's dead as a motherfucker.

WRT Design still has this one on it's website as THE plan for this spot. Another proposal carcass.
Here's the latest proposal for the piece of the Shame Lot on the west side of Broad. I like that they're complimenting the old trainshed but otherwise this looks like ABSOLUTE CROTCH!
                     You read about one proposal, get excited about it, then soon find out ITS NOT FUCKING HAPPENING. Then it happens again and again. This lot is cursed. At this point, a giant pile of tennis balls would be better than what's there now. You'd say to your friend, "Hey, let's get wasted and go hang out by the balls!". Then businesses would start popping up nearby to serve the tennis ball visitors. In a few years Tennis Ball will be the new cool neighborhood. Hipsters from far and wide would flock to its organic sustainable streets paved with pinto beans. BROAD AND WASHINGTON DAMN YOU!!! Here's some more pictures:

Another drawing by early Philaphile Frank Taylor, showing alterations made to the PWB Station.

The forlorn PWB Station serving as an extension of the freight station next door in 1914. 13-year-old City Hall looks like a futuristic supertall skyscraper in the distance.

Broad and Washington in December 1980. Hard to see but if you look closely you can find the Wanamaker Clothing Factory.
The corner shortly before the elimination of the Wanamaker Clothing Factory. What a bummer.



  1. Not to mention that Lincoln's funeral train's Philly stop was at the station, with 500,000 Philadelphians pouring into the streets to mourn. We should lie to tourists and tell them either: A) we intentionally leave that POS bare as a memorial to Lincoln's loss or B) that Lincoln's ghost haunts that shit.

  2. This blog is sent from heaven. thank you.

  3. David G, the Civil Was museum moved out of their old digs with the intention of going to the INHP, but it all got fucked up. I wish they had enough dough to put a museum up at this spot, which is more or less the most important Civil War site in the city. Civil War buffs would definitely check it out. I wonder if that would be enough to spur some development here? At this point, a volcano could rise out of this lot and it would be better.

    Bop_vito, Thanks for your support, brah. Nice to know that SOMEONE's reading this shit.

  4. Yeah, supercool blog, am huge fan.

    Assuming you also think it's a piece of shit -- I'd be thrilled if you someday made Hill College House (3333 Walnut) the Butt-Fugly Building of the Week. I spent two years of my life in that odious building, would love to see it trashed here.

  5. yeah, what bop vito said. i absolutely love this blog. not since phillyskyline went kaput has a philly blog entertained me like this.

  6. A few years ago I went to the Shame Lot to see the world's largest pinata get demolished. Waited there for two, three hours and guess what - NOTHING HAPPENED.

    When the police motorcade told everyone to leave I got this shot of some of the saddest kids that ever happened:

    Well played.