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North Broad Street and the Post-Victorian Downtown

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In William Penn's plan, Broad Street was intended as the major cross street to High Street. It now extends from the southern point of the Philadelphia peninsula to the cleft in the Vof the city at its north. Because Philadelphia principally developed from the Delaware River side, settlement only reached Broad Street at the end of the eighteenth century. By the middle of the nineteenth century it was the site of institutions, churches, hotels, clubs, and mansions that marked it as the civic street of the city. In the twentieth century, with the relocation of the city hall, it became the new downtown with Philadelphia's version of an urban canyon, though largely held to the twelve to fourteen stories that typified early-twentieth-century construction.

North of City Hall (PH49), three spiky Victorian buildings, the Masonic Temple (PH50), Arch Street Methodist Church (PH51), and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PH52), document Broad Street's role as the city's institutional and civic street. On the northeast corner of N. Broad and Arch streets stood Furness and Hewitt's brilliant green serpentinite and brownstone Victorian Gothic Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion (1871), demolished for Reyburn Plaza, now the site of the Municipal Services Building.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas

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