125 South 2nd Street
The site that this garage sits on was first plotted by Thomas Holme on November 29th, 1682... one month and two days after the founding of the city. The first occupant was the grand estate of some guy named Christopher Taylor, whose property filled the area between Front, 2nd, Walnut and Chestnut Streets. Later folks would split the block with small alleys...Laylor's Alley (now Ionic Street), Gray's Alley (later Gatzmer Street), and Norris's Alley (later Gothic Street, now Sansom Street). Citizens would build out the entire area with small commercial buildings and small houses. After a big fire in 1840, most of the property was replaced with commercial buildings.
The majority of the old commercial buildings facing 2nd Street would survive all the way into the 1970's.
|The site of the parking garage in 1970 as seen from 2nd Street. The cool building to the right is the old Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, now the site of the unfortunate Welcome Park.|
One archeological dig was done by Temple University in 1976/77, locating old privy pits and building foundations. One of the more interesting items from the dig was that only nine privy pits were found on the whole block from a time period when way more than nine families were living there... meaning these literal shitholes were being shared by many people at a time.
A second dig was done by the UPenn Museum in 1979 while the parking garage was being built. They were only able to dig in areas that were dug out for the garage's support structure. One of those areas was the site of a privy pit. Thousands of ceramic shards, beer bottle pieces, seeds from 18th Century feces, and remains from the 1840 fire were found. They were also able to uncover an old cartway and a wooden phone line conduit from 1900. The dig was rushed because the garage was being constructed while they worked, so plenty of other shit could have been found if they had the time.
Once built, the parking garage became (and still is) one of the most successful ones in its area... which means it will NEVER go away. People are probably gonna be parking bio-engineered hovercarriages in this thing in the 29th Century. This garage has a huge amount of exposure due to the popular Ritz Theatre at its base. I call that one the Ritz Pagoda because of how the signs line up on the top of the shitty garage.
The Master Plan for the Central Delaware modifies almost everything around this garage but not the garage itself. The crappy Front street frontage of the garage will be visible from the river... if this plan ever comes to fruition, which is a slim possibility.
|The waterfront in an alternate future that'll probably never happen.|