Thursday, June 9, 2011

Empty Lot of the Week-- June 9th

Past Gas Mega-lot

Bounded by 22nd and 23rd, Market to JFK Boulevard.

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                     Goddammit, it's always so upsetting coming out of a subway stair and seeing NOTHING. If you ever ride the Subway-Surface trolleys and get off at 22nd St, you come up the stairs out of this dirty-ass smelly underground cavern and you think it's going to be nicer topside. Then you come out and there's this cheap ass empty lot with a porn theater across the street like it's Taxi Driver or some shit.
                    This lot is the most likely to stay an empty lot until the end of time. This is one of those lots that is a victim of circumstance. In the 1830's, Philadelphia was growing quickly but still lagged behind other cities technologically. At the time, we were one of the only major cities without a gas works. Every time it got brought up in City Council, excuses were made for why the city shouldn't have gas lighting. As usual, City Council was stalling for a kick-back. Then came Imperial Shogun Master Samuel V. Merrick. He got elected to City Council with the intention of kicking the shit out of any councilman who opposed a gas works. He actually went as far as researching, designing, and running the gas works once it was built in 1836 just to shit in the faces of all those corrupt-ass councilmen.

1853. What are all those horses so excited about?
                   The big gas storage towers at the gas works became local landmarks due to their height.. they were some of the tallest buildings in the city at that time. The works was owned and run by the city, which meant MASSIVE corruption became entrenched within the system. During an age of municipal reform, United Gas Improvement Co. took over the gas works in 1882 and cleaned out the 50 years of dirty dealings our great city government is so good at.

You think this picture looks old? Those gas towers were already 45 years old by this time!
                About 50 years later, the city was like, "Whooooooa... why did our predecessors ever think a private company should run our gas works? We could have been getting kick-backs all this time, motherfuckers!! What the fuck are we doing?!?!". They re-municipalized the gas works in a snap and tore down the gas towers which were nearly 100 years old. The lot then began its long and illustrious career as a surface parking lot. One cool thing that it had was one of the old smokestacks from the gas works the corner, which became something of a local landmark in the neighborhood:

1932. That little building on the right lives the fuck on today.
Still going strong in 1950.
                       It's pretty safe to say that the earth under this lot is probably contaminated from the 100 years or so of being a gas works. The only thing that could go here is a skyscraper... a smaller project wouldn't be worth the extra cost of removing all the shit that must be underground. Therefore, get a fucking skyscraper going here. No excuses. The American Commerce Center would do just fine here and you won't have that many NIMBY's to worry about... What, is the porn theater gonna complain? Fuck 'em.

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