VIADUCTgreene » Broad Street, by Paul vanMeter, Philly » “Perhaps it is because William Penn on the City Hall is looking the other way …

….that South Broad Street feels that it can cut up without reserve. What I like about South Broad street is that it does make compromise with the public taste, every possible compromise. In the course of a three-mile stroll from City Hall down to the South Broad Street Plaza one may see almost every variety of human interest.”
- from Travels in Philadelphia by Christopher Morley (1920).

The 111 annual Mummers Parade has me thinking on Broad Street. Specifically, VIADUCTgreene’s North Broad Street intersection. Or maybe I shouldn’t call it an intersection. In 1893, “on account Broad Street is one of the widest and finest streets in the city, being, at the point referred to, one of the principal routes from the center of the city to Fairmount Park, special attention had been directed for some years to an arrangement between the City of Philadelphia and The Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Co. by means which this particular grade crossing could be avoided.”  and so it was to be…

Check out this wonderful and hectic Frank Schell drawing from Harper’s Weekly of January 1891. Frank Cresson Schell, in addition to being a great sketch artist, was founder of the Philadelphia Orchestra. His view looks South. Seems work is well underway on City Hall and Alexander Calder has his hands full. Perhaps he’s over at Tacony Iron and Metal Works checking on the casting of his 37′ tall sculpture of Wm. Penn. Schell’s drawing shows the tracks of the City Branch are depressed and the P&R’s Broad & Callowhill Station is doing good business; Reading Terminal is under construction over at 12th & Market. The PRR is contemplating major changes at Braod Street Station, and Frank Furness’ 24th Street Station is serving the patrons of the B&O over on Chestnut Street.

The P&R ‘camelback’ 4-4-0 exhibits snazzy, clean lines and how about that beautiful, vestibuled Pullman car! Following the sketch is a drawing, “illustrating the plan for the depression for the depression of tracks,” looking west.

Broad Street Subway City Branch (Frank Schell)

… And now, below, an early 1890s map from the project descriptions.

An early 1890s Map

Below, check out that insert pic! A fantastic c.1950s view looking east from track level showing Broad Street and the magnificent Terminal Commerce Building. Right now the School District (??) has built over this location(?!?). In 2011 we’ll advocate for VIADUCTgreene to find a right-of-way through here. Somehow, someway. It will happen. Mayor Nutter, take down this wall!

Terminal Commerce Building


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