121 South Broad Street
|It's located in North America.|
John Wanamaker was a rich motherfucker. He built an empire based around his department store, the first of its kind. Wanamaker raised his spoiled-ass sons to be Captains of Industry just like himself. Thomas and Rodman Wanamaker both worked for their Pop and then set out on their own business ventures. Rodman went to France and was solely responsible for America's interest in French luxury items soon thereafter... he was a huge success. Thomas, on the other hand, was kind of a cock. He bought a struggling newspaper called The North American and decided they should move into a new building in the city's newest business district.
In the 1890's, South Broad Street consisted of two new large buildings and a whole shitload of smaller old buildings. Businesses wanted to move there to be near the new City Hall, which was expected to be a stepping stone toward a grand new Philadelphia. The problem, of course, was that it was taking a long fucking time to get done. That's a lot of bricks. Thomas Wanamaker had a great idea. He would take advantage of the slow construction by constructing his building taller than the construction of City Hall so that it would briefly be the tallest in the city at a then-astounding 267 feet.
|South Broad Street in 1893. The people on the right are like "When are they going to finish that fucking thing?"|
When under construction, the North American building stood out on the skyline. The bricks were applied to the steel skeleton from the 10th floor up, causing the building to look funny for a long time. It took much less time to build than other buildings of the era because it was so simple. By 1900, it was done with a year to spare as the tallest in the city. City Hall's construction was taller by 1901. In case anyone forgot the name of the newspaper, big fucking letters were placed on top.
|1904. The box rises over the soon-to-be-doomed backyard of the Dundas-Lippencott Mansion. Pic from shorpy.com.|
Pay your respects to this motherfucker next time you walk by. It may seem like an ordinary building now, but back then it was Burj Dubai of Philadelphia. Recognize.
|The street-level facade in 1901, when it was the backdrop for the Pissing Contest World Championship.|