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North of Market Street

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Philadelphia's post–World War II downtown rivals Independence Mall ( PH12.1) as an architectural and planning disappointment. In the 1920s, the Pennsylvania Railroad developed a scheme that would replace Furness's massive Broad Street Station (1892–1893; 1952 demolished) and its elevated rail viaduct (known as the Chinese Wall) with a cluster of Art Deco slabs that were to fill the north side of Market Street from the west side of City Hall to the Schuylkill River. The construction of 30th Street Station ( PH143) and the removal of commuter train traffic to Suburban Station (1929–1931, Graham, Anderson, Probst and White) at N. 16th Street and Kennedy Boulevard were the beginning, but the Great Depression and World War II ended the project. After World War II, city planner Edmund Bacon revived the scheme, but too much planning and too little capital resulted in an underwhelming group of buildings that together give modern design a bad name. A half century of alterations, reglazing, and changes of color have not been able to undo the collective blandness.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas

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