113 South Third Street
|It was the 70's... what did you expect?|
People love that goddamn Liberty Bell. For years, Philadelphians have especially gone bananas over this thing. Before it was an oversaturated image that everyone was sick of, the bell was a sacred shrine that existed within another sacred shrine, Independence Hall. Every time the bell was removed from the Hall, people protested... even when it would be paraded around town and returned the same day. In the mid 20th Century, the shit got real.
The new Independence National Historical Park, destroyer of some of Philadelphia's greatest architectural treasures, was going to bring a lot more visitors to the bell, located in a little hallway at the bottom of a stairway in Independence Hall. It would need to be moved. The first idea was to move it to its own building at 3rd and Chestnut in 1958. People went fucking nuts and the National Park Service delayed the project.
By the early 1970's, preparations for the Bicentennial celebration began. At this point, Philadelphia was trying to put on a Bicentennial Exhibition and World's Fair, assuming that the entire world would be descending on the city. The Liberty Bell would have to be moved to keep Independence Hall from being overrun. The planners went back to 3rd and Chestnut, where a new Visitor's Center would be built... this could be the new location for the Liberty Bell. In 1972, the NHP commissioned the Cambridge Seven firm to design the new center with a bell tower that would house the world's most famous bell.
It was the 70's, so the cutting edge design Cambridge Seven came up with was asinine. An 106-foot rectangular brick tower, suspending the bell from cables all the way down to street level. Special windows would reflect sunlight inside the tower and onto the bell.
|The rendering of the Visitor's Center with a slightly different Bell Tower.|
|This is how the bell would be displayed.|
Eventually, the park folks caved and moved the bell onto Independence Mall, right across the street from Independence Hall. The ugly Mitchell Giurgola Liberty Bell Center was a huge improvement over Cambridge Seven's shitty tower. Despite the bell not moving to the Visitor's Center, the tower was built anyway! It would house a replica Liberty Bell (the Bicentennial Bell) that was gifted by the Queen of England in 1976.
|The ceremony on July 6, 1976.|
This dark cloud has a silver lining, however. Bicentennial Bell Tower's days are numbered. The new American Revolution Center is to be built in place of the failed Visitor's Center/Living History Center. The butt-fugly, stained-up, outdated tower is to be demolished. Of course, there is some NIMBY opposition. The destruction of the building and tower will signal the total erasure of the super-ugly bicentennial-era additions to the Independence National Historical Park/Grass Lot Collection. Boo fucking hoo.
I, for one, will be glad to see this motherfucker go down. Hopefully, I can be there when it happens. Its not every day that a piece of butt-fugly public art gets destroyed. Hooray!
|It only looks good from this angle. Up its ass.|