Thursday, May 26, 2011

Empty Lot of the Week-- May 26

The Great NIMBY Memorial

Bounded by Front Street, Second Street, Pine, and Lombard. Surrounded by NIMBY houses. 

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                   This is a goddamn atrocity. This is it. This is the Empty Lot that will unequivocally stay an empty fucking hole in the universe for all eternity. It will stay an empty lot until the weeds overtake the concrete and grow into massive trees. There will be alligators living there before anyone dares try to develop this lot again.  It'll become a damn wildlife refuge. 
                    This Sea of Assquility is located in Society Hill amongst some rich motherfucking people. Therefore, rich motherfucking developers see it and say "Wow!! A big-ass empty space in a prime location! Imagine the possibilities!! Why hasn't anyone else thought of building here!?! What could possibly get in my way!?!?!" The answer: the NIMBY. 
                   This lot was once home to the Pine Street Quaker Meeting House, then home to a bunch of Victorian homes. That all got knocked the fuck over in favor of a horrible failed shopping center called NewMarket.It was such a piece of shit that most Philaphiles barely remember it. Just the name send shivers down our spines.
I guess they thought that if they wrote it sideways it would be better. Dumbasses.
He's like "Isn't this awesome! This could never fail! NEVER!!"
                  After NewMarket got swallowed up by the Earth, the NIMBY's that live nearby and adjacent to the huge property decided that they would never, EVER, let anyone build anything there ever again. I'm not going to rehash the stories of how they managed to stop pretty awesome projects from coming through because it will cause me to break my computer and hurt people. You can read about all the drama here or here and that's just about one project!
                What a crazy bunch of motherfuckers. "Wah Wah I moved to a city but didn't want tall buildings within view of my house!" and "Wah Wah I'm so rich I can't stand not getting my way." Before a plan is even officially proposed, they will go into FIFTY meetings with a developer and bitch about little details of the construction as if they're all experts on urban planning and architecture. They will whine about how historic looking their neighborhood is even though it has little pockets of late 20th century horse-manure-looking houses. They will complain about the height, width, breadth, sidewalk, apartment size, tree species, colors, and wheelchair ramps of any new project with the hope of making the developer throw up from the smell of Brill Cream and leave.
                 If that doesn't work, they'll sue. Sue their fucking brains out. Use their millions in pocketchange to starve any developer who dares to be nice enough to still work with them despite their harassment. Do you want to see NIMBY's in action? Go to any civic association meeting in the city. Watch as hopeful entrepreneurs are shouted away over every detail of their well-laid plans. Listen as the NIMBY spouts arrogant lines like "I've lived in this neighborhood 746 years this fall..." and "An apartment that size attracts the wrong kind of people to the neighborhood!".
                  Let's do a short review of plans that were proposed for this spot in the last 5 years, some of which were already adjusted ad nauseum in compliance with NIMBY demands:

They proposed five versions of this one. Dead on arrival.
Oh, look how happy those people look. NIMBY's kicked this shit to the curb.
They tried again with this one. BIG MISTAKE!
                      That was just the last five years. They're have been plenty of other plans that were only published in old newspapers and shit. See if you can find any! We'll make a collection. In conclusion, fuck these people and fuck this lot. With a wooden spoon. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lost Building of the Week-- May 25th

Evening Bulletin Building

1315 Filbert St.

This is why Juniper and Filbert Streets used to be known as Kick-Ass Corner.
                Now this is some sad stuff. Look folks, this may be hard to believe, but there was once a time before the internet existed. Try not to shit your pants. Back then, Philly had a shitload of newspapers competing for supremacy. One of them, the Evening Bulletin, started in 1847 as a low-circulated but high-tech paper. It featured news that came in by telegraph earlier in the day. Today that would be like CNN playing inside your eyelid.
                 In 1895, an ogre with gargantuan balls, William L. McLean, took control of this paper and mutated it into a Journalism Juggernaut. He got the paper's circulation up from 6,000 to 133,000 in only three years. The little dinky building they had at 1234 Chestnut wasn't enough to handle the newly massive company. He commissioned a new building right smack dab in the middle of it all at Juniper and Filbert in order to have a storage spot for his gigantic nuts while he worked. Here's the original rendering:
Inaccurate just like any other rendering. Accompanying text says it would be done in 1907, a year earlier than it's actual completion date.
               This Tower of Titanic Trojan Condoms became a Philadelphia landmark and the Evening Bulletin became the highest circulated paper in the country. The New York Times didn't have shit on it. By 1916 the building got expanded further down Filbert Street and looked like the picture at the top of this article. The paper was so famous at this point that flood lights were placed on City Hall in order to light up the Bulletin's facade at night. In 1916 that would be like turning the facade into an HD video screen with porn all over it.
              By the time 1953 came, the Bulletin got so huge that they needed to expand into a new and more technologically advanced building. They went over to 31st street and built a future Butt-Fugly Building of the Week that sits next to a previous Butt-Fugly Building of the Week. The old Bulletin Building got renamed the Penn Square Building and was still used for crappy offices as the building and the neighborhood around it fell apart at the seams.

Looking haggard in the mid to late 20th. Check that dome out, motherfucker!
                 The Evening Bulletin started to fall apart too... by the start of the 80's, no one had use for an afternoon paper anymore. After 134 years, the Evening Bulletin published its last paper in 1981. Four years later, the dilapidated-ass building was demolished in favor of an Empty Lot that lasted for 10 years until the crappy Criminal Justice Center was built.
                  What a great looking building. It looked nice from afar and also had beautiful details that you needed to see close-up. We'll never have a highrise or skyscraper with a dome like that on it again. If this building lasted just a few years longer, it would be restored and housing high-end condos or a hotel right now. Instead, they ripped this building the fuck apart and let the lot sit until it was replaced with an eyesore that looks more like a tall suburban shopping mall than a government building. Balls.
                  Here's some cool pics.
The ground-level facade in it's heyday before it was expanded. Are those confederate battle flags?
The last day of the dome in 1985. Pic from what it says in that big fucking watermark.

Ya know what would look great here? An empty lot until 1995! Then plant a big fucking plastic box! Yeah!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Butt-Fugly Building of the Week-- May 24th

Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine

148 North 8th Street

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                     Yay, it's a cube! With lines!!! Just take a good look at this dirty pile of shit. This is the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine. I bet every time one of their students tells someone the name of the school, they say "Pediatric Medicine? Wow, that's great!" and then the student has to hang their head in shame and say, "No. PODiatric Medicine." This Cube of Cold Donkey Cocks looks about as sad as that student.
                   This school started when a bunch of rogue Temple faculty got a charter in 1963 to start the Pennsylvania School of Podiatry.  Ten years later, they got the biggest set of grey Legos they could find and assembled this building. When it opened, it was touted as the first facility developed for podiatric use. That's like saying my house is the first facility developed for Philaphilia use. It doesn't mean shit. 
                    Shorty after this pile of dung was built, the Bicentennial was coming up and the school wanted to have an attraction for the millions of tourists that didn't show up. They created a Shoe Museum on the 6th floor that contains 900 pairs of shoes. The Mutter Museum loaned them their collection of shoes from some crazy doctor named Dr. H. Augustus Wilson who collected shoes from 30 countries. 
                   I wish this building fell into the ditch created next to it for the CCCC Tunnel Mega Lot in the 80's. There really isn't much more to say about this building except that it sucks. This building serves as yet another example of how modern architecture ages badly. That's not to say, of course, that it didn't look like shit when it was first built. Check out the photo below from when it was first built. It looked like ass from day one. What a turd.

When it was brand new. It looks like one of those fake cardboard buildings you see in a Godzilla movie.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Old-ass Building of the Week-- May 23

Merchants' Exchange Building

143 South Third Street

Make that Oooooold-ass Building of the Week
               Y'all should already know about this bitch-bastard. This is the Merchants' Exchange Building. In the first decades of the 1800's, Philadelphia and America itself was a much different place.  Business leaders who wanted to make deals with each other would go to various taverns in Old City and get wasted while deciding the fates of thousands. The United States Marine Corps, for example, was founded in Tun Tavern. Don't bother trying to visit it... it burned down in the 18th Century and it's location is now the middle of Interstate 95.
                  By time the 1830's was rolling around, various badass motherfuckers were starting to bitch about getting the skunked beer smell on their contracts. They decided that they should have a central location from which to do business. Their leader, Stephen Girard, who was literally the Bill Gates of the early 1800's, had an ulterior motive. He was already building a new bank on 3rd st, so he decided that the new Merchant's Exchange should be within view of his shit.
                  They contacted William Strickland, who had already designed all of the coolest buildings in early 19th Century Philadelphia. This was going to be his most important Philadelphia structure and he had to make it butt-ass awesome.  The fledgling nation was obsessed with Ancient Greece and tried to model after their inaccurate ideas of what it was like. Thus the coolest kind of architecture of the period was Greek Revival style. Unlike his previous Greek Revivals, Strickland had a triangular lot to work with so he knew that the building had to look cool and different from all sides.
                  Strickland outdid himself for this one. He made a columned facade that faced 3rd Street, then made a rounded portico of corinthian columns facing Dock Street (which still stunk from the arched-over river of shit that was flowing under it). He placed big-ass marble lions on each stairway that ran up the curved back of this Parthenon of Pickled Pricks just in case a future wizard wanted to bring them to life and make them do his/her bidding.
                  Strickland was then like "This motherfucker is good... but what can I do to make this GREAT?". The solution? Include a look-out tower on top modeled after Choragic Monument of Lysicrates. Now the picture was complete. His clients loved it so much that they had to change their pantalettes. Ya see, one of the reasons these business motherfuckers liked doing business in taverns was that they were close enough to the river they could see when the ships carrying their shit were leaving and arriving. The lookout tower made it possible for them to do this from the new Exchange.
                  In 1832 this became one of the city's first real landmarks. The press called Philadelphia the "Athens of America" because of it. Stickland was so proud of his creation that he literally moved the fuck in. All the ports in town maintained a Post Office box here, businesses moved into its offices, and the building briefly became the goddamn World Trade Center of it's time... until the exchange dissolved and the operation moved to the Corn Exchange in 1866.

1859. You can almost smell the horse shit.
                   The building became shitty offices until just after WWI when it became the Produce Exchange. By this point this Castle of Cantankerous Cock-Punches was a blackened weathered ghost of its former self. The Look-out Tower was a boarded-up rebuild from 1901, the structure was surrounded by a little shanty-town of small businesses selling rotten fruit, and there was a fucking gas station across the street.
                   In 1952, shit changed. The National Park service took over and made the old Merchant's Exchange a part of that shitty Independence Historical Grass Lot Collection. They restored the building to its original appearance and then, like Strickland, moved the fuck in. They still have offices there today. Here's some pics. This building kicks ass. 

3rd St. facade. Business in the front, party in the back.
Lookin' like butt while being restored in 1959. Don't ask me about that tall building in the background or I will hurt you.
Strickland was such a dick that he just made a bigger version of the design for the Tennessee State Capitol. I guess he didn't think anyone would notice. He was so proud of this one that he moved in permanently. He is entombed in the northeast wall.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Jefferson Building Update-- May 22

901 Walnut St.

The 7th floor is wearing it's Sunday Best.

                    Well well well. It looks like the new Jefferson Building at 9th and Walnut is coming along nicely. The bottom floors are getting mechanicals installed, the middle floors are getting their girders sprayed with that foamy shit, and it looks like it should be topping out pretty soon. The only part that seems to be left is the top boxy floor that will say "Jefferson" on it.
                       The full name of the building is the Health Professions Academic Building Jefferson Clinical Neuroscience Center. Why such a ridiculously long and confusing name? People will just end up calling it "the New Building". I would prefer if they call it the Waka Flocka Flame Center. Then it'll sound interesting. Some Jeff student will be like "Where do you have that class?", and another student will be like, "Waka Flocka!!!".

Part of this construction will be a un-fucked-upping of the 903 Walnut facade. Good fucking luck.
This is what the Waka Flocka Flame Center will look like when it's done. It better fucking glow like that.