200 Chestnut Street
|There's four whole sides like this!! Image by Bruce Andersen.|
In 1913, the U.S. Customs House in Philadelphia was still located in Stickland's 1818 Second National Bank building. Officials that worked there were pissed. Why did they have to suffer in a nearly 100-year-old building (which meant something much different in 1913 than it does now) when other cities had these brand new high tech mega-facilities? They bitched and moaned to the federal government for 20 years until President Hoover told them to shut the fuck up and ordered a new building, knowing the plans couldn't possibly get finalized until after his term.
Then came FDR's New Deal. The Fed threw down 4.2 million dollars for the project. That's 60 million in today's dollars, the same price as the recent Royal Wedding. With all the extra bucks, they could go balls to the walls with this thing. The U. S. Customs House was going to be a landmark and they needed an architect that could pull it off. If you really wanted to make an impact in 1931, you called up Ritter and Shay.
|Ritter and Shay wearing their American Instiute of Architects Award belts.|
This Castle of Cock-Crazy Commodores was finished in 1934, after 2 years of construction by 4,000 workers. The building was so big that the U.S. Customs offices didn't even fill the whole building. The Treasury Department threw their Coast Guard, Steamboat, and Lighthouse offices in there. The building was thought to be high-tech because it held the newfangled Radio Inspector arm of the federal government. They're still around now but they're called the FCC.
I don't usually talk about the interior details of buildings but this one is an exception. The lobbies and public spaces in this building are filled with beautiful murals and sculpture by local Philadelphia artisans of the time.
|Aaaah it's moving aaaah|
|Gap Headquarters in San Fran. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu|
|The U.S. Custom house on a treeless peopleless carless signless lightless street. Image by cardcow.com. Go buy one.|
|It even looks good covered in scaffolding!|