Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Philly Loses More Maritime History

Time's up for one of the last intact intersections on Front
Street. Today the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections authorized the Spear Brothers to demolish the 1830s buildings at Front and Chestnut Street (right), which once housed the suppliers of the city's shipping industry.
The city made some effort to fight the demolition (see post below and my March 30 column) but seems to have lost heart after a judge ruled in favor of the owners. When a few bricks popped off the building yesterday, the city withdrew its objections to razing the buildings. Once the pair is gone, this important waterfront edge is going to look awfully derelict. I can't imagine it's going to do any good for Old City, especially if the lot sits undeveloped for as long as its counterpart at Walnut Street


Anonymous Carol Ambruster said...

I'm surprised (& not pleased) that there hasn't been significant opposition to the demolishment of these two 1830's buildings: a) on the basis of age: 1830's structures are no longer a dime a dozen, and b) as a connection to Philly's historically important maritime industry.

Despite the report of a couple bricks falling, the buildings don't look in that bad shape and could perhaps be used as an adjunct to the Maritime Museum, either for kids or for everyone. Or perhaps a gallery for maritime arts, etc.


11:58 PM  
Blogger ken said...

Hey, I worked here in the late 1980's when it was Cody's. The place was falling apart then so I can imagine what it's like after being neglected for so long. I saw some of the biggest rats in my life there as well. That building was full of holes. I remember one rat getting stuck on a trap in the basement and managing to climb up the stairs and get into the dining room.

Good times!

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old City seems to have a problem with owners and developers who are radically bucking the Philadelphia trend to restore historical buildings. Who are these people and why are they doing this?

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

old city should have old buildings.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Fante said...

I'm not surprised that someone from outside the city would second-guess the city's conclusion based on a photograph of a building.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Captainden said...

I'm a firefighter who was called to this building the other day when the bricks fell. Unfortunately this building's useful lifespan has long since passed. The bricks that fell could have easily killed someone. If you want to save a historic building why not help save the old Fire Headquarters @ 13th & Race sts. thats slated for demolition to make room for the new convention center? That building means a lot to the history of this city.

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

typical philly.

we're putting casinos our most promising land. Why would two old building resonate with their myopic vision of what Philadelphia should be.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the hurry? There are buildings in worse shape that need demolition in the city, so why is the building being slated for immediate demolition? Can't the judge's or agency's decision be appealed? Why doesn't the city, the state, the federal government, or some Old City or preservationist group intervene and use some type of legal action to stop the demolition? I guess it's time to take the Old out of Old City...................

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bricks falling as a reason for demolition? Has anyone heard of a practice called "repointing?"

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo, Captain Den - The fire dept. bldg. at 13th & Race is the City's old fire dept. headquarters? If that's true, I can't believe that the City has not designated it an historic bldg. deserving of preservation. What I could tour of the interior is nothing to speak of but its exterior is certainly beautiful.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if the buildings were falling apart, they should have been repaired. the very fact that they were dated to 1830's means there should've been enough concerned people of influence and means to save them. shaaaaaaaaame on philly for letting those old buildings go. you just vaporized 177 years of existence. you now have to wait until 2184 for the equivalent. do you think those achingly awful casinos will be around then?? John

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those old buildings should've been saved. Are you telling me that structures dated back to the 1830's have been torn down? For what purpose? They had better build a really meaningful structure that contributes greatly to the urban fabric. If not, then for shaaaaaame on Philly for allowing such a trade off. Anyhting less then worthy of vibrant urban vitality will be a waste. Tearing down those buildings vaporized 177 years of history. You will now have to wait until 2184 for the equivalent. There should've been people of means and influence to save them. Were there none? In that entire city? John

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the firefighter who wants to stop the convention center; if you want to see a historic firehouse go to Mt. Holly, NJ they have the oldest one in the country on Pine Street near Mill St. Although the F'house on Race is grand, I did not know it was historic.

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inga, these buildings may be connected to the maritime industry, but they don't look any more historic than similar buildings in Kensington or Port Richmond. In fact, if go off the beaten path in downtown Jersey City or Brooklyn you can see scores of these type of dilapidated structures. Some are being rehabbed into condos others are being torn down for higher floored modern buildings and still others are just languishing with their age.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Philadelphia is really lagging behind when it comes to preservation. It is a real shame to see buildings like these, and others as beautiful and significant in less affluent neighborhoods, come down without any apparent concern from the City and many of it's residents. We are throwing away what is so special about this place.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We are throwing away what is so special about this place." That comment so right. You simply cannot replace a building of that age. The intrinsic value was in the age, moreso than the design or style of the physical building. Antiquity, if you will, cannot be bought. It is earned through endurance of the passing of time, and eventually bestowed upon those buildings that through grace, good fortune, luck, and most importantly, the proper societal attunement to things past. But hey, if another surface parking lot is needed in the year 2007, by all means, go ahead and rip it down. It can never be said that Philadelphia didn't manage it's surface parking lot needs for the year of 2007. The sad thing is that surface parking lots will be what everyone from this point forward will have to look at.

7:51 PM  

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