http://www.jjtiziou.net/jj/community/philadelphias-secret-garden

http://www.jjtiziou.net/jj/community/philadelphias-secret-garden

Exploring the Eraserhood with Street View Stereographic. (via www.petapixel.com)

Underground Eats: Because Who Doesn’t Want To Eat Dumplings In A Basement?

Underground Eats: Because Who Doesn’t Want To Eat Dumplings In A Basement?

Dream a Little Dream: Poplar

Dream a Little Dream: Poplar

Ballet’s plan for N. Broad would raze building in Callowhill historic district

Ballet’s plan for N. Broad would raze building in Callowhill historic district

CIHD: Terminal Commerce Building

The Callowhill Industrial Historic District (CIHD) is bounded by North Broad Street to the west, Hamilton Street to the north, Pearl Street to the south, and 12th Street and the curve of the Reading Railroad Viaduct to the east. It is a relatively small historic district of 66 resources – 39 contributing buildings, one contributing site, one contributing structure, 24 non-contributing sites and one non-contributing building. The early phases of our exploration of The Eraserhood focus on the dedicated buildings within this district.

Terminal Commerce Building (view 1)The former Terminal Commerce Building, the headquarters for the Reading Railroad, was “one of the premier buildings in the city,” according to Powers & Company, Inc. This building was recognized with listing on the National Register in 1996, well before the incorporation of CIHD. Built by William Steele & Sons, the building features polychrome Art Deco ornamentation on the upper levels of the Terminal Commerce Building.

Terminal Commerce Building (view 2)The railroad, of course, had a major role in the development of the district. In the 1830s, the Reading Railroad laid tracks along Noble Street that ran to the Delaware River. As part of their construction of the Reading Terminal Train Shed and Head House, the Wilson Brothers — whose 300 projects in the city included the “Chinese Wall” viaduct for the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Broad Street Station train shed — elevated a branch of the tracks to connect directly into the Reading Terminal. “The Reading Viaduct was important for bringing commerce into the Terminal and the associated development that took place because of its proximity to the Terminal,” Power said.

The construction of the Terminal Commerce Building at Broad and Callowhill firmly established the presence of the rail industry in the district.

http://planphilly.com/gritty-callowhill-recognized-national-historic-district

Terminal Commerce Building (view 3)

Occupying an entire city block at Broad and Callowhill Streets, this structure was touted as being the largest commercial warehouse building in the nation when completed in 1930. The Terminal Commerce Building cost $4 million to construct and was built by William Steele & Sons, a longstanding Philadelphia construction firm. The building offered about 13 million square feet of floor space, including showrooms and offices for the numerous firms that made their headquarters there. The massive edifice even had a freight station beneath it, which replaced the Reading’s North Broad Street Freight Station and rail yard that had previously been on the site. Rail service was provided by the Reading’s now-abandoned “City Branch” right-of-way, which passed underneath. The Terminal Commerce Building was reputedly used to manufacture tanks during WWII. And from the 1940s to 1973, it was the main U.S. Army Induction Center in Philadelphia, striking fear in the young men who entered or even passed by it. The Reading Railroad sold the structure in 1955, whereupon it became known as the North American Building. By the 1980s, it had become a low-rent office and light-industrial center. It more recently has been repositioned as a “carrier hotel” housing telecommunications, computer and other high-tech equipment. There are dozens of fiber optic lines into the building, large Internet servers, huge back-up power generators, and a number of telecom tenants.

http://www.workshopoftheworld.com/center_city/terminal_commerce.html

CIHD: Former City Morgue

The Callowhill Industrial Historic District (CIHD) is bounded by North Broad Street to the west, Hamilton Street to the north, Pearl Street to the south, and 12th Street and the curve of the Reading Railroad Viaduct to the east. It is a relatively small historic district of 66 resources – 39 contributing buildings, one contributing site, one contributing structure, 24 non-contributing sites and one non-contributing building. The early phases of our exploration of The Eraserhood focus on the dedicated buildings within this district.

According to PlanPhilly, the former City Morgue was, “built by Philip Johnson in the 1920s in the Mission Revival style.” By David Lynch’s own admission, the influence of this building is seen throughout his body of work:

“The house I moved into was across the street from the morgue, next door to Pop’s Diner. The area had a great mood – factories, smoke, railroads, diners, the strangest characters, the darkest nights. The people had stories etched in their faces, and I saw vivid images-plastic curtains held together with Band-Aids, rags stuffed in broken windows, walking through the morgue en-route to a hamburger joint.”

http://www.thecityofabsurdity.com/quotecollection/philly.html

Emanuel Levy writes in Cinema of Outsiders: The Rise of American Independent Film:

Deep-seated anxieties goaded Lynch into art, growing out of his fear of big cities—first New York, then Philadelphia. Like the human ear that Blue Velvet’s hero finds in a littered field, a visit to a Philadelphia morgue impelled Lynch to go beneath the surface of things.

The careful observer can even see images of a similar building appearing repeatedly in films as late as Inland Empire.

Now serving as an annex to Roman Catholic High School around the block at Broad and Vine, this building remains mostly unchanged in appearance. Presumably the youth attending this school whisper of the history of their annex, sharing that delicious chill only those who still retain innocence can truly enjoy.

CIHD: The Packard Motor Car Building

The Callowhill Industrial Historic District (CIHD) is bounded by North Broad Street to the west, Hamilton Street to the north, Pearl Street to the south, and 12th Street and the curve of the Reading Railroad Viaduct to the east. It is a relatively small historic district of 66 resources – 39 contributing buildings, one contributing site, one contributing structure, 24 non-contributing sites and one non-contributing building. The early phases of our exploration of The Eraserhood focus on the dedicated buildings within this district.

Panorama 777According to Reinhold Residential, current property managers for apartments housed in Philadelphia’s Packard Building, the site:

…dates back to 1910, when Packard Motors commissioned acclaimed Detroit architect Alfred Kahn to design a showroom and assembly plant in Philadelphia. This grand limestone and terracotta trimmed building with hand-carved cornices and oversized windows, was unlike anything the city had seen before.

Panorama 776While it is easy to recognize a slightly hyperbolic tone in this excerpt from their marketing literature, I would put the stress on the word, “slightly.” Like most of the dedicated edifices within CIHD, The Packard is a very special building from a lost era.

The Philadelphia Examiner, hopefully a somewhat more detached source, gushes nearly as openly about the property:

The seven story structure is a steel frame, reinforced concrete masterpiece that is clad in terra cotta exterior ornamentation befitting a palace built by one of the top luxury car manufacturer of the day.

Inside, the two-story lobby has been restored to look like it did back in 1910 and is quite lavish in its decor.  From the chandeliers, to the ornate cast plaster ceilings, to the mahogany paneling and woodwork, you can still imagine a wealthy customer sitting down to order a custom bodied town car or a merchant such as John Wanamaker’s department store, purchasing another Packard truck for their delivery fleet. Upon its completion, it served as the cornerstone of a motor car business corridor that developed along North Broad street and put Philadelphia on the map as a hub of automobile manufacturing a hundred years ago.

Of course, today the building speaks for itself.

Panorama 778