At the corner of Camac & Wallace in the West Poplar (sometimes called Spring Arts) neighborhood stands a somewhat out-of-place building that doesn’t seem to fit in with its surroundings. Its glass block windows, strange cornice decoration, and unusual shape seem to want to tell a story. Would you like to hear it?
Photographer Chandra Lampreich takes a look inside the empty halls of the
The Shadow heads down to the corner of Ridge Avenue and 11th Street where an attractive wire and steel warehouse stands out like a diamond among broken glass.
Bilgram Machine Works at 12th and Spring Garden was the first reinforced concrete building in Philadelphia. The Shadow puts a spotlight on the formal industrial heavy weight and the busy Bavarian behind it.
Like much of the surrounding North Broad Street area, the block would spend the early part of the 20th Century dedicated to the proliferation of America’s auto industry. As the nation’s love affair with the automobile continued to evolve, the industrialized area just above City Hall proved highly conducive to its maturation. As the image here below, taken from G.W. Bromley’s 1910 Philadelphia Atlas, shows, the site in question was simply identified as a Motor Shop.
Just north of the intersection of 12th & Spring Garden stands one of the stranger buildings in a neighborhood that’s experienced a rebirth of late. Though the building has occupied its current location at 531 N. 12th St. for well over 150 years, it has actually seen far more change in the last 30 years than in its entire prior history. The structure began as a family owned business called Finney & Son, noted manufacturers of tombstones. The unmarked location of the business, founded in 1850, is shown here in an image taken from Hexamer & Locher’s 1858 Philadelphia Atlas.
If you know where to look, remnants of a rich manufacturing past still sprinkle reminders of the city’s Workshop of the World status. One such industrial stronghold, the catchily-named Callowhill/Chinatown North/Eraserhood/Loft District, boasts many specimens, including 1220 Spring Garden Street, the “Seagull Building.” While a wave of new construction has claimed vacant lots and long-abandoned properties to its immediate north and south, this structure has managed to retain the neighborhood’s previous legacy… at least for now
In an ever-upward trajectory, Kahn left his post as chief designer of Mason & Rice to strike out on his own, founding first Kahn & Mason until 1902, and later Kahn & Wilby until 1918. Many treatments of Albert Kahn inevitably deflect toward his kinship with Ford and his impressive portfolio of industrial architecture. Structures like the Packard Motor Car Company Building No. 10 (1905), Philadelphia’s Ford factory on Broad Street, Ford’s half-mile-long River Rouge complex, the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant and Willow Run Bomber Plant stand as emblems of the modern aesthetic: sparse in ornament, direct in their materials and flexible and open in their plans. Later designs like the the Tank and Bomber plants further stoked Europe’s infatuation with slim, clean lines of glass and steel and provided a template–for good or ill–of a bold new post-World War II Modernist aesthetic.
12th and Spring Garden Streets in 1916, before the neighborhood became known as The Eraserhood.