Category Archives: Uncategorized

All We Need is Love at LOVE Park?

In order to succeed in its grand ambitions of City Beautifulism, the Parkway had to overcome a handful of awkward design moments. The first, at the base of City Hall, got the boulevard off on the wrong foot. Instead of elegance and clarity, we see Broad Street Station’s tower poking and jutting into what should have […]
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Thinking about the 21st-Century Monument

A lot of folks have given a lot of thought as to who The Thinker is and what he’s thinking about. Not everyone agrees on a single interpretation, not even the sculptor Auguste Rodin, who imagined many and wouldn’t say for sure which one he intended. Anyway, Rodin believed works of art should speak for themselves. […]
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The Search for an American Art in “Gallery C”

Construction delays scuttled the original plan to open the Centennial in April 1876, in time for the 100th anniversary of the battles at Lexington and Concord. Just as well. The nation’s first world’s fair wasn’t looking to the past so much as the American present and, even more, its future. On May 10, 1876—139 years […]
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“Where Are You From?” Frank DeSimone’s South Philadelphia (Part 2)

Note: this article is Part II of a series.  Click here for Part I.   Two months ago, as we stood in front of St. Monica’s Roman Catholic Church, Frank DeSimone recalled one of his fondest childhood memories: the annual visit of the Joseph A. Ferko String Band. In the 1950s, Philadelphia was defined not by […]
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Broad Street Run: Out of Time

At the 5.9-mile point, Broad Street runners round City Hall turning at South Penn Square. It wasn’t always like a canyon. The place had a downright downscaled feel in the first half of the 19th century, when Benjamin Henry Latrobe’s Pump House sat central in the Square and Napoleon LeBrun’s stone steps spilled onto the […]
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A Drive Through Overbrook Farms

In 1876, as Philadelphia’s Centennial Exposition was in full swing, the Pennsylvania Railroad quietly bought up the trolley rights on Lancaster Avenue from 52nd Street to the western city limits.  The PRR shrewdly sought to control as much development as possible along its Main Line to Pittsburgh, which paralleled Lancaster Avenue — also known as […]
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Lost on Broad Street

What ran up and down Broad Street a century ago? Buildings did. According to Poor Richard’s Dictionary of Philadelphia, nearly fifty of the city’s public structures: hospitals, schools, institutes, hotels, sacred places, museums, theatres, opera houses, government buildings, clubs and railroad stations were sited along the 10-mile plus length of Broad Street. As discussed last […]
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Broad and Market Streets: the Intersection of Past and Future

Philadelphia’s past and future always collided at the intersection of Broad and Market Streets. From the conception of Center Square in the 1680s to the laying of the corner stone for City Hall in 1874 it was a tentative, slow-motion collision. After that, things sped up quite a bit. By the end of the 19th-century, […]
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Debt and Consequence

It’s a classic story. Behind a noble and refined façade, (thanks to the designs of Frank Miles Day and Louis Comfort Tiffany) Horticultural Hall on Broad Street was really a house of cards, a palace built on credit. After an earlier hall on the same site burned in 1893, insurance kicked in $25,000 for a […]
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Frank DeSimone’s South Philly (Part One)

  Frank DeSimone is seventy years old, and is a successful trial Philadelphia attorney who at one time served as assistant district attorney. He is short of stature and slight of build, with a soft, gravely voice and warm, open smile. Born in 1945, Frank is the grandson of immigrants from Naples.  His grandfather came […]
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