Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lost Building of the Week-- June 8th

Tower Hall II

518 Market Street

Even the horses think it's badass.
                         Damn, this thing is awesome. There's nothing out there like this one today. Just look at this shit. In 1855, Colonel Joseph M. Bennett, self-made clothing company tycoon, had a problem. He wanted his entire company located in one building. He had a four-storey building called Tower Hall but it wasn't big enough. He noticed how the Jayne Building was built tall instead of wide so it could fit all the necessary offices to run a pharmaceutical company. He also noticed that tall buildings looked cool. Bennett realized that if he builds tall, he could fit his entire company and attract customers to his clothing store. The theory was that customers would see his building from afar and be like "Let's go in that building and buy shit!".
                        Bennett ran up to Commodore of Kick-ass Samuel Sloan and slapped him in the face with his giant cock. He told Sloan, "Build me a tall motherfucking building that will get me customers! You have to make it be so fucking crazy that people will come running!" and Sloan was like "I got you covered, brah. Now get your fucking porksword out of my face!".
                      Most of the cool buildings in Philadelphia at the time were Greek Revivals. Sam Sloan said "Fuck those assholes! I'm sick of looking at columns and shit! I'm going to go Medieval on their asses!". Medieval castles were the shit in the early to mid 1800's. People went crazy over paintings and drawings of Norman architecture. Sloan designed a seven-story thin-ass Norman castle, even gave it embattlements at the top so you could shoot arrows and shit from the balconies.
                        Bennett's rich ass loved the idea (especially because the first Tower Hall had an embattled roof) but demanded large open spaces on all floors. Sloan, who was a former carpenter, developed a skeleton of metal that all the bricks and wood could sit on, making a large-windowed open-spaced floor possible from top to bottom. That's right motherfuckers, this is the FIRST metal skeleton skyscraper. It predates the second one by 16 years and was MUCH more technologically advanced. Then, in case that shit wasn't impressive enough, Sloan capped this sucker off with an octagonal embattled observation deck.
                        When it was built it became an instant landmark. It was the second tallest building in the city, Jayne's being just a little taller. Bennett opened a new Bennett's Tower Hall Clothing Bazaar and got even more rich. Not only did customers come stampeding into the place, he was able to manufacture and store his goods in one building that also contained his offices and store. He was the goddamn King Shit of Clothiers.
                        A plucky 18-year-old kid that worked down the street left his shitty-ass job at Lippencott's crappy clothing store and worked his way up the ladder at Bennett's Bazaar. The little shit learned about advertising from Bennett, who was at the time considered an advertising guru. This scrawny punk was so badass that he ended up starting his own little store called Wanamaker's. Have you heard of it? Bennett sold off the company when he got older and became a real estate magnate. He owned acres and acres of land in the city, some of which became a portion of Fairmount Park.
                       This Embattled Tower of Tonsillectomies was unceremoniously ripped down in 1959 for the construction of the Independence Historical Grass Lot Collection. Replaced by grass. Now that shit's depressing.

Still dominating the 500 block of Market Street 47 years after construction. Don't get me started on what dominates that block now.

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