Lost on Broad Street

Pennsylvania Railroad Station, Market Street west at Penn Square. ( - Free Library of Philadelphia)
Pennsylvania Railroad Station, Market Street west at Penn Square. ( – Free Library of Philadelphia)

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 time, this plan was long in the making. William Penn, who almost certainly found inspiration in the urban visions of Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio in giving Broad Street its plain, forthright name in the 1680s, intended exactly that. It took a while—two centuries— to fully catch on, but in the fullness of time, Broad Street became Philadelphia’s Public Avenue, the venue for civic life.

But things change, and many of the buildings that once lined Broad Street are now gone. In this, the first of two posts dedicated to the expected 30,000 participants in the 2015 Broad Street Run, we link to what’s lost on Broad, some of the buildings no longer seen along this 10-mile course.

From Broad Street and Somerville Avenue, heading south:

1.0 miles – Broad, just south of Blavis Street: Saint Luke’s Hospital.

1.2 miles – Broad and the Roosevelt Boulevard: The first of many gas stations. This one designed for the Atlantic Refining Company.

1.8 miles – Broad and Erie: The Greek Revival temple of the North Central Trust Company, on the southeast corner, directly across from the now-closed Bowlorama and its time-keeping billboard.

2.1 miles – Broad and Ontario: Samaritan Hospital and the recently demolished Temple University Medical School.

2.4 miles – Broad and Allegheny: Philadelphia original Convention Hall, inside and out.

3.4 miles – Broad and Susquehanna: Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church.

3.5 miles –Broad, north of Diamond: The first Armory.

3.8 miles –Broad and Berks: Gatehouse of Monument Cemetery.

4 miles – Broad and Cecil B. Moore: Keneseth Israel Synagogue (before and after the fire), Columbia Club and Columbia Avenue Saving Fund, Safe Deposit, Title and Trust Company.

4.1 miles – Broad below Oxford : The Mercantile Club.

4.5 miles – Broad and Girard: Reid Hotel, Widener Mansion and the Majestic Hotel.

5.0 miles – Broad and Green: the first and second versions of Central High School there.

5.1 miles – Broad and Spring Garden: Odd Fellows Hall.

5.3 miles – Broad and Callowhill: Another Armory.

5.6 miles – Broad and Vine: Hahnemann Hospital.

5.6 miles – Broad and Race: Scottish Rite Temple.

5.9 miles – Broad and Market: City Hall, of course, survives. Broad Street Station illustrated above, did not.

Next time: What you won’t see as you run the final 4.1 miles down Broad, from City Hall to the Navy Yard.

3 replies on “Lost on Broad Street”

It hardly makes up for all the other losses, but the North Central Trust Co. building at Broad and Erie is still there. You can hardly tell, though, because the front portico was shorn off.

I can not believe how different it is today and there is not an outcry to stop this destruction….thank you for posting…

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