2021 Chestnut Street
|Jesus fuck!! That's horrible!!|
Post-WWII Philadelphia was a pretty depressing place... especially in Center City. The beautiful old Victorian structures were dirty and falling apart. The 1920's and 30's boom buildings were outdated. The population was in a continuous migration to the Northeast and the suburbs.
Then, all of a sudden, three new institutional buildings came all at once, The Sidney Hillman Medical Center, the Mercantile Library, and this, the YWCA Annex. The three were considered a triumvirate that signaled a new age of urban design that would change things forever. Well, time has proven that these buildings have failed. The Sidney Hillman is now demolished (whoopie!), the Mercantile Library has been vacant for 23 years (but will be renovated by a fan of this crappy style), and the YWCA Annex is about to be demolished.
It began in 1949. The YWCA had not seen new construction since 1916. The building they were using on the 2000 block of Chestnut Street was built in 1923 as the Stephen Girard Hotel and it was a pretty crappy facility. The new and modern addition to the old hotel was to be a prototype for a new kind of YWCA, offering activities and services that none other had before. The first architect commissioned was the firm of Sydney Martin. They came up with a design that would be a modern version of the old hotel building.
|Makes sense, right?|
|Seriously, it was.|
The building would stay in continuous use for the next 36 years. On August 31st, 1990, the Mid-City YWCA shut its doors, never to be opened again. The piece of shit became the property of the Redevelopment Authority in 1993 and just sat there.
|The building in 1991 or 92. Empty but not yet boarded-up.|
Once the 2000's progressed, the neighborhood surrounding the building was seeing a resurgence. The YWCA Annex became the most blighted piece of shit on the block and one of the most blighted places in Center City. Check out a photo gallery the Inquirer did of the interior here. Finally, this last December, Aquinas Realty Partners was authorized to purchase the building. They plan to FINALLY demolish the stupid-ass Annex and build a 12 story apartment building with over 100 apartments, retail space, and extra space for Friere Charter School.
|From their website.|
The loss of the crappy YWCA Annex and the crappier Sidney Hillman Medical Center is the proof that this new urbanism that was all the rage in the 1950's is a complete and utter failure. Sadly, it took 60 years for these shitbird buildings to be replaced, but at least its finally happening. Too bad the Mercantile Library couldn't join them so that all three of these architectural mistakes could be eradicated from memory.