Monthly Archives: March 2013

A Philadelphia Quaker and Fabric Row

“He is genial, yet you take no advantage of it; he is kindly, but his eyes can grow hard upon necessity,” said one journalist about Philadelphia mover-and-shaker Clement Acton Griscom (1841-1912), the most powerful shipping mogul in 1900s America. Clement Griscom was a birthright Quaker, but plain he most definitely was not.  He dressed in […]
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An Expressive Gateway at Broad and Fairmount

Broad and Fairmount is no ordinary intersection. Look at the five vistas it offers: toward Center City or North Philadelphia, up Ridge Avenue or down or out toward Fairmount, and it’s clear: this is a gateway with a grand, if gritty, sense of self. This is s an equal-opportunity provider, Broad and Fairmount is, offering […]
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Kahn’s Kind of Skyline

On a sharp, clear summer evening in 1973, I found myself walking up 10th Street with Louis Kahn, listening to the architect talk about his city. Just before we approached Spruce, Kahn pointed above a one-story Laundromat on the west side of the street. There, a cluster of brick chimneys profiled against the western sky […]
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A Philadelphia Zelig

New technology breeds new characters. Space travel, for instance, brought us super pilots who have “the right stuff.” Railroading created the conductor and the hobo. Digital technology gave us garage entrepreneurs and hackers. And when we go back to the origins of the telescope we find discoverers and heretics. Photography expanded the human repertoire with […]
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