Broad Street Run: Out of Time

Betz Building, Southeast Corner of South Penn Square, December 11, 1916. (PhillyHistory.org)

Betz Building, Southeast Corner of South Penn Square, December 11, 1916. (PhillyHistory.org)

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 sidewalk from the classical portico of his 7th Presbyterian Church. But by the 1890s, when Will Decker’s 14-story Betz Building rose on the site of the church and Furness and Evans’ West End Trust topped out at the same height directly across Broad, City Hall had formidable company and Scrappletown had its own brand of wanna-be-skyscrapers.

Of course, that’s all gone today, demolished and replaced. Every structure pictured or linked in this special-edition pair of blog posts was demolished to make way for the city we know and sometimes love, the Philadelphia celebrated by the Broad Street Run. Last time we focused on the northern portion of the course, where runners enjoyed the gentle slope from Logan’s heady elevation at 170-feet above sea level to Penn Square’s humble 49 feet. From here on down to the Navy Yard? That’s the harder part. So, to help you with that final stretch, PhillyHistory is pleased to provide a distraction to help runners imagine what the last four miles of this course once looked like.

Just past 6.0 miles at Broad and Chestnut Streets: On your left at Broad and Sansom:  Another classical temple, this one from the 1830s, the First Independent Presbyterian Church (aka Chambers’ Church).  On your right: the Academy of Natural Sciences, a hotel topped by a giant wooden eagle (La Pierre House).

6.1 miles – Broad and Walnut: On the left, still another classical portico, this time at the Dundas-Lippincott Mansion and just past the Bellevue on the right, the Art Club, which survived into the 1970s.

6.15 miles – Broad and Locust: architect Theophilus Parsons Chandler, Jr.’s Walton Hotel, which made it as far as the 1960s, survived thirty years longer than did Kiralfy’s Alhambra Palace (aka the Broad Street Theatre), not visible on the left. Horticultural Hall, formerly on the right, and previously posted about, lasted only 21 years.

Southwestern National Bank - Southeast Corner Broad and South Streets (PhillyHistory.org)

Southwestern National Bank – Southeast Corner Broad and South Streets, July 25, 1927. (PhillyHistory.org)

6.2 miles – Broad and Spruce: Hotel Stenton from the 1890s, also on the east side. Just south of Spruce, on the left, stood the Romanesque-style First Reformed Presbyterian Church (aka Wylie Memorial Church).

6.4 miles – Broad and Lombard: Where the threatened blue-brick District Health Center No. 1 sits, once stood the Darley Residence, first designed by Furness & Hewitt in the 1870s then redone by C. M. Burns.

6.5 miles – Broad and South: At the southeast corner, you won’t see another Burns building the Southwestern National Bank from 1900, which barely made it to middle age.

6.8 miles – Broad and Carpenter: A railroad freight depot on the southwest corner, now parking on blacktop behind a vintage chain link fence.

6.9 miles – Broad and Washington: Another freight depot, on the northwest corner, this one of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

7.0 miles – Broad and Federal: Holland Memorial Presbyterian Church where a Pep Boys now stands.

CAPTION 91459

At the Liberty Bell, Broad Street, South of Oregon Avenue, 1926. (PhillyHistory.org)

7.9 miles – Broad and Jackson: The Southern Manual Training School, by architect Titus Lloyd, diagonally across from St. Luke’s Church.

7.1 miles – Broad and Wharton: Third Regiment Armory, demolished just two years ago.

7.8 miles – Broad and Snyder: Where a Walgreens  is today the Broadway Theatre opened in 1913.

8.3 miles – Broad and Oregon:  The entrance to the sprawling Sesquicentennial Exposition in 1926, featuring the long-lost portent of Pop: a giant, electrified Liberty Bell.

8.4 to 9.1 miles – From Broad and Bigler to Broad and Hartranft, was the landscaped promenade called Forum of Founders. It lead to the Municipal Stadium, a venue later joined by Veterans Stadium and the Spectrum, all of which, of course, are gone.

At 10 miles – at the blunt, wet end of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, stood another icon of power and strength, “Old Hammerhead,” “the World’s Largest Crane,” which proved its mettle as a worthy monument by holding up “350 Tons of Guns.”

So many didn’t make it.

But congratulations!

You did.

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