Friday, May 13, 2011

Philly 2111-- May 13th

Empty Lot of the Week-- May 12th

PAFA Super-Lot

Bounded by 15th and North Carlisle Streets from Cherry to Race

Fuck this lot.
          Ok, so everyone loves PAFA and loves what they're doing with Cherry Street. Read more about that here. What chaps the ass of me and other Philaphiles is that a humongous surface lot sits behind it all and will be highly visible from their super-cool new Lenfest Plaza. The fact that there's parking structures FUCKING EVERYWHERE around this thing makes it seem all the more useless.You've got to wonder why this lot exists when there were perfectly good buildings there as recently as the 60's.

1959. Ok, so there was a small surface lot at the corner. Better than THE WHOLE FUCKING BLOCK!
                I guess PAFA and Hahnemann and the Quakers nearby needed the parking. Now with the new Family Court coming in catercorner to this Doldrum of Despair, it has no fucking excuse to stay a crappy surface lot. Think of all the possibilities. PAFA, Hahnemann, the Quakers, shit, even the crazy house in the neighborhood could build something here and do magnificently.
                   PAFA could move their student housing operation here and have retail facing Cherry that serves the new plaza. A hotel that serves the Convention Center could go here. I dare ya. Hahnemann could easily expand into this void. Have you seen some of the little nooks and crannies that Jefferson and CHOP have inched their way into? Shit, I'd rather see a giant statue of Milton Street than this piece of shit. A Museum of Trucknutz. A burning pile of rotting Tastykakes. Fuck.

Future site of the Museum of Trucknutz

         *I had to repost this because blogger went down last night and the original post was lost so any comments that were made are gone, so say that shit again.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lost Building of the Week-- May 11th

Central High School III

550 North Broad Street

Holy goddamn shit-kicking Christ.
                   Where do I fucking begin with this one? In the 1880's, Central High School's second building was getting overcrowded as shit. Things had changed at their spot at North Broad and Green.  The rich tycoonish motherfuckers that had moved in and built a shitload of mansions up North Broad were sending their spoiled trustafarian hipster teens to Central High. They needed a new building that was not only much bigger but much more extravagant to stroke their egos. Throw in a little good old-fashioned city government corruption into the mix and you get THIS AWESOME FUCKING BUILDING.
                    They called on the Grand Commandant of Architectural Ass-Kicks, Willis G. Hale, who had just finished what we now call the Divine Lorraine, to build a high school that will be unmatched anywhere in the country. Hale was like "Do you fucks have six years to spare? Cuz that's how long it's gonna fuckin' take, you dirty bastards!" Construction began in 1894 and lasted six years as the controversy over the super-awesomeness of the building became the center of Philly politics.
Historical photo of Willis G. Hale surveying the site of the proposed building in 1893.
                    In 1900 the new high school opened and in 1902 was dedicated with a visit by none other than President Theodore Goddamn Roosevelt. He spoke in the schools' opulent auditorium, then went out to the northern balcony facing Brandywine Street and addressed the students Pope-style. He then rode his horse back to DC with a safari hat on while carrying his cabinet, two advisors, and a cheesesteak under his arm.
                    This school had it all. See that big dome at the top? That was a fucking observatory. See that other dome at the top? That was the OTHER observatory. It's hard enough to find a high school with one... but two? Students had to be male and have an IQ over 110 to attend this Academy of Flying Fists, which means if it was around today and had the same standards, there would be like 3 students.
                    By the mid-20th Century, this building was looking pretty haggard. It had gotten stained up and was literally falling apart along with everything else on North Broad. Central High built a new and exceedingly ugly school at Olney and Ogontz Avenues, which it still uses today. Willis G. Hale's Masterpiece of Masturbational Glory was torn down in 1961 and replaced with a fucking pair of boxes known as Benjamin Franklin High School. Interesting how one of the best schools in America got replaced with one of the worst. Ben Franklin isn't even really a high school, it's more of a Day Care Center for teenagers.
                    What a wonder this would be if it was still around today. People go nuts for the Divine Lorraine and it has graffiti all over it... in my opinion Central High was Willis G. Hale's superior work. If this building somehow didn't get demolished, it would be a hot property in the condo/apartment market. People would like it so much that they would fuck a crack in the facade out front just to get a chance to see the inside. Instead, they have to settle for a dryhump with the Mulford Building.
         has some great pics of it, so here they are.
Willis G. Hale aint nuthin to fuck with.

Even Central's ass looked good.

Street-level Bad-ass

Go stand at the southeast corner of Broad and Green and let me know how it all turned out.

So they thought two slightly different rectangles would make a better looking view than this.



Holy Shit! Is the Fergie Tower back?

1213 Walnut St             

Destroy! Destroy!
                     In 2009, Philaphiles will remember that there was a proposed mixed-use 29-storey hotel/apartment/5 screen movie house to cover a shitty lot at the 1200 block of Walnut St. The amusing part of the plan was that the developer was planning building AROUND Fergies' Pub. Therefore, the plan was affectionately called the Fergie Tower. Here's a photoset of renderings:
                      Well, I walk by early this morning and see the old thrift store with building permits from 1996 being destroyed and started to wonder.. will the Fergie Tower get built or are they just extending an already shitty lot? Sheeeeeeeeeit.

This better be for the Fergie Tower!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Butt-fugly Building of the Week-- May 10th

Hilton Garden Inn Philadelphia Center City

1100 Arch Street

Picture from their website. This was the best fucking picture they could get of it. Anyone notice what's been cropped out?
               This building is a damned eyesore. I hate buildings with parking garage pedestals. I hate buildings that needlessly straddle over roads. I hate buildings with slightly asymmetrical frontages. If your ever drew a picture of the image above, it would look like you fucked up the perspective because the facade on the right side is slightly closer to the street than the left side. Not only that, this is the GOOD side of the building! It is more often seen showing it's extremely bare ass all the way down 11th street:

View Larger Map
Go ahead. See how far south on 11th street you need to go for the Hilton's dirty ass not to be visible.

              In 2000, the city was in the need of hotel space for the first time in years. The Republican National Convention was coming to town, and the city was afraid of losing hotel business to cheaper hotels in Cherry Hill and Valley Forge. The Redevelopment Authority owned the land under the Gallery II parking garage, which was put there in 1977 to accommodate the tens of thousands of people they foolishly thought were going to drive to the Gallery from the burbs. They offered up the virtually unused parking garage for development of a hotel. Hilton took the bait and knocked together a four-story addition right on top of an already butt-fugly 11th-street-straddling parking garage in time for the convention. It was such a piece of shit that it needed a total renovation by 2004.
                Even Google Earth hates this building. All the other buildings are in 3D and this Hanging Garden of Dick-Cheese is flattened like a pancake:

Google doesn't love you and Jesus kicked your ass.
                They include that crappy Greyhound station and not the Hilton. Some Google exec must have gotten stuck in traffic behind the Chinatown bus while inside the Dark Tunnel of Doom known as 11th street underneath this pile of dogshit. Then he went back to Googleland, kicked the door down on the dorks making Google Earth and said, "Fuck that building. That one, right there. It's a good thing I had that toilet installed in my limo! Now clean up these door pieces all over the floor, you dirty piles of shit!"
                I hope this building becomes a Lost Building of the Week, except that it'll be a Butt-Fugly Lost Building of the Week. Hey! That's a good idea!

Butt-Fugly Lost Building of the Week

The Scottish Rite Temple

150 North Broad Street

Scottish Wrong Temple
                I never thought I would like a crappy parking garage better than the building it replaced. Look at this Great Wall of Kilt Skidmarks. What the fuck were these Scottish dudes doing that they needed a temple that could withstand a nuclear blast? The Scottish Rite Temples in other cities are cool-looking. What the fuck went wrong here? I don't often say "Glad this fucker's gone" but...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Old-ass Building of the Week-- May 9th

Terminal Commerce Building (aka the North American Building)

401 North Broad St.

Fuck you, I like this building!

             That's a huge bitch. A 13-million square foot bitch. Thirteen million fucking square feet. That means you can fit 6 or 7 Comcast Centers in it. Remember how the expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center was such a big deal because 2 full conventions can run there at once? Well this place can hold twenty-six. This Great Wall of Kick-Ass is so big it has its own zip code. That's not a gag or anything, it's 19108.
            Back in the day, North Broad Street from Callowhill to Spring Garden was dominated by the Baldwin Locomotive Works and the Pennsylvania Reading Railroad, a massive seven-block spanning cloud of dust and dirt and sooted up buildings that served as an employment center and transit hub for thousands of people. It was also a  great barrier between Center City and the Original Gangsta's that lived in the wealthy neighborhood further up North Broad. We're talking actual active train tracks running through one of the most high-traffic boulevards in the city. Here's an historical account superimposed on an actual sketch of the area from way the fuck back when:

Broad and Callowhill of yesteryear. It was bad enough that the roads were pretty much paved in horseshit.. trains would hit you.
             Reading Railroad opened a new train station on 12th and Market, and in 1900 the city helped them bury the train tracks that caused all the traffic woes and testicular injury. Reading still ran a freight station on the spot, and business was so good by the 1920's that they were running out of storage space. They figured business would be good forever, so they built a 13 million square motherfucking foot warehouse just in time for the Great Depression. They wanted to call it the Biggie Smalls Building, but instead went with Terminal Commerce Building.
             This beastly badass of a building didn't let the Great Depression stop it. It held offices of numerous companies within, since it's pretty convenient for a business to have a freight station in the basement. It also boasted the city's first ever underground parking garage. By 1955, Reading said "fuck it" and sold it off. It became Class ZZZZ offices well into the 80's. Then, something amazing happened.
               This Art Deco Castle of Terra Cotta Crotch-kicks became the most important telecommunications hub in the region. It's so important that it has a gigantic emergency power source across 13th street from the back of it. That means that if there's ever a huge cataclysm and power goes offline, we could all plug long-ass extension cords into it and be fine.
                 The Terminal Commerce Building is now a big fucking carrier hotel, with five data centers. Shitloads of internet servers and high tech telecom-related shit make this building more important now than it ever was back in the day. If you're reading this post, it means that the data most likely traveled through this awesome building. Maybe it can read this post! Good for you, Biggie. Good for you.