Philly + Architecture = Art Deco

While it may not be Miami Beach (Philly doesn’t really do pastels), Philadelphia has some amazing Art Deco buildings.  These are a few of the highlights in Center City:

The former Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company, now an annex of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2525 Pennsylvania Avenue). Covered with decorations symbolizing attributes of insurance and hard work, including: the owl of wisdom, the dog of fidelity (origin of the dog name Fido – a tribute to the loyalty of dogs) , the pelican of charity, the opossum of protection, and the squirrel of frugality:

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The old WCAU radio station (1618-22 Chestnut St.). The first building in the country designed specifically for a radio station. Decorated with lots of chrome and electricity symbols:

 

 

 

 

Suburban Station (16th & JFK Boulevard). It originally served as a terminal for Pennsylvania Railroad trains (yes- the same station on the Monopoly board – Pennsylvania Rail Road was one of the stations serving Atlantic City, home of all the properties on the board when it was first published in 1938):

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The Ayer Building (210 W. Washington Square).  Originally home to one of the oldest ad agencies in the country, N.W. Ayer – established 1884 and creator of the slogan, “a diamond is forever”:

 

 

 

The former Market Street National Bank (1 East Penn Square). Covered with Mayan theme decorations – a real contrast to the ornate City Hall across the street:

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1500 & 1528 Walnut Street (interior of 1528):

 

 

 

1608 & 1616 Walnut Street (interior of 1616):

 

 

 

The Metropolitan Apartments (117 N. 15th Street):

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The Drake Hotel (1512 Spruce Street). The decorations symbolize the voyages of Sir Francis Drake – dolphins, shells, globes:

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The old Horn & Hardart Automat (818 Chestnut):

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And… the Deco  influenced Liberty 1. Viewed behind the Architects Building (117 South 17th Street):

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A Room With A View And A Famous Food Market

Tobey’s favorite place to bring friends is the viewing deck at the top of Philly’s City Hall.

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For $8/adult and $4/student, a maximum of 5 people squeeze into a tiny elevator and head up to the platform just under William Penn’s feet. Enclosed by glass, but open to the elements, you get a great view of Center City Philadelphia.

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Who Knew?

*City Hall held the title of world’s tallest occupied building from 1901-1908.

*With almost 700 rooms, it is the biggest municipal building in the United States.

*Made of over 88 million bricks, marble and granite, it is the largest masonry structure in the world.

 

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*Alexander Milne Calder created over 250 sculptures that decorate the building (including the sculpture of William Penn). His son, Alexander Stirling Calder, created the fountain up the Parkway at Logan Square.  His grandson, another Alexander Calder, has one of his famous mobiles (“ghost”) hanging at the end of the Parkway inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

 

*In the 1950’s the building was considered so ugly that plans were made to tear it down.

*(X-rated) Tip: viewed from the left (north) side, William Penn’s extended hand looks like an entirely different part of his anatomy – giving the statue the nickname “Willy’s Willy.”

Just 3 blocks away, Reading Terminal Market is a great place to eat when everyone is in the mood for something different. Tobey’s favorite is a grilled cheese sandwich (with brisket and mac&cheese) at Valley Shepherd:

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My favorite is the roast pork (with provolone and hot peppers) at DiNic’s:

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And (of course) it’s required to finish up with the world’s best donuts from the Amish bakers at Beiler’s:

City Hall Tower Tour Information: http://www.visitphilly.com/history/philadelphia/city-hall/