Thursday, August 11, 2011

Empty Lot of the Week-- August 11th

First Regiment Armory Lot

Bounded by North Broad, 13th, Carlton, and Callowhill Streets

For shame!!!
                      Here's another lot that shouldn't fucking exist. It's a big hole in the middle of North Broad Street, marring the buildings around it with it's emptiness. Any improvement made on North Broad becomes useless as soon as people see this lot (and it's brother across the street). This Lake of Asphalt Lard creates a psychological barrier between Callowhill Street and all points south.  It's one of the more depressing empty lots in the city... the first building it had was also the last.
                      It wasn't just any building, either. It was a kick-ass awesome Great Wall of Icepick Neckstabs that took eight fucking years to build (1882-1890).

1894, on the horseshit-strewn dirt road that was North Broad Street. Check out the tower that Roman used to have.
                          Imperial Chancellor of Shitkicking James Hamilton Windrim was the architect of this, the First Regiment Armory, which was a BIG FUCKING DEAL when it was built. Military men from all over the tri-state area swarmed into Philadelphia for the groundbreaking.
                         On April 19th, 1882, A huge processional of over 600 soldiers and veterans marched up and down Broad Street from Chestnut to Bainbridge, then back up to the construction site at Callowhill. Once they arrived at the site, a fully-costumed Masonic ritual took place while the cornerstone was laid. Attendance was so high for the event that the following banquet had to be held at multiple sites. The day of celebration ended with a concert and reception at the American Academy of Music.
                         The building served as home to the 103rd Engineer Regiment, aka the Dandy First, which was supposedly founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1747. The building was used by the regiment occasionally but spent most of its life as the premiere venue for conventions and exhibitions. Auto shows, business expos, technology fairs, all the same kind of shit the current Convention Center holds were all held here first. Needless to say, this Fortress of Fingerbangs was much better than the coal yard that it replaced. An addition was added in 1904 to ensure slightly more kick-ass. It was designed by Architectural Shogun Warrior Charles Brooke.

With kick-ass ensuring addition.
                   Over the next 8 decades, the Armory stood unchanged as all of North Broad grew around it. After Convention Hall was built, this thing became pretty useless. By the late 20th Century it was falling apart. In 1959 the Dandy First moved out and continued their badassery over at 33rd and Arch, in a huge building they had been using since 1916. 

Towards the end.
                     Usually, when a building get's knocked down, I say it was "unceremoniously knocked the fuck down". In this case, I can actually say there was a ceremony when this fucker was destroyed. The Dandy First proudly said goodbye to this awesome building in 1979. Ever since then, it's been a fucking crappy surface parking lot.
                     Not just any surface lot, mind you. A surface lot elevated off the ground. The old foundation of the old Armory stayed intact and the surface lot was built on pylons. In July of last year, after 3 decades, the lot started to sink and needed to be replaced. The Philly blogosphere went apeshit thinking that there might be SOMETHING developed on this lot, but it ended up just being filled in and repaved as a brand new surface parking lot. Yay.

Here's a pic uploaded to Philadelphia Speaks by user eldondre when there was excitement over the possibility of development on this lot.
                        What a huge fucking disappointment that was. The future development of North Broad Street is contingent on this lot and others like it getting filled in. North Broad has less development now than it did in 19 fucking 40. Someone with a lot of dough needs to drive a dumptruck full of money up to Parkway Corp and get this thing erased. Get on that shit.


  1. Speaking of Roman, any chance that it will be a future old-ass building of the week?

  2. is that a gremlin is see parked in front?