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Philadelphia YIMBY Presents Massing Renderings of the 1925 Skyline

Philadelphia 1925 south elevation. Model and image by Thomas KoloskiPhiladelphia 1925 south elevation. Model and image by Thomas Koloski

During the 1920s, “the Roaring Twenties,” the nation saw a major economic boom that lasted nearly a decade, until it came crashing down in the 1930s with the Great Depression. Major cities were vibrant and illuminated, with ballrooms and theaters spreading around cities. The growth also positively affected the skylines of American cities, including that of Philadelphia, which saw the construction of multiple office buildings in Center City, mostly around Broad Street and Market Street.

Philadelphia 1925 looking north. Model and image by Thomas Koloski

Philadelphia 1925 looking north. Model and image by Thomas Koloski

Philadelphia 1925 looking northeast. Model and image by Thomas Koloski

Philadelphia 1925 looking northeast. Model and image by Thomas Koloski

Of course, City Hall still stood as the centerpiece of the city and its tallest building, standing 548 feet tall, also holding the record as the world’s tallest freestanding masonry building. The tower is topped with a total of nine large bronze statues, with three statues of Native Americans, four eagles on each face, a Swedish settler facing away from Penn’s Landing, and of course the 37-foot-tall William Penn statue that features his whole body and hand facing towards the Penn Treaty Park, where Penn allegedly signed a peace treaty with a local Lenape tribe.

Philadelphia 1925 looking southeast. Model and image by Thomas Koloski

Philadelphia 1925 looking southeast. Model and image by Thomas Koloski

Philadelphia 1925 looking east. Model and image by Thomas Koloski

Philadelphia 1925 looking east. Model and image by Thomas Koloski

Other than City Hall, the largest building in the city at the time was the Wanamaker’s Building just to the east of City Hall. The incredibly large building takes up the equivalent of two city blocks, with gigantic floor plates inside the 12-story structure. The building was constructed in stages and was completed in 1910, with nine floors designated for retail. In the next five years multiple other buildings rose in the vicinity of City Hall, with the Wells Fargo Building soon joining the skyline. The list also includes the Girard Trust Building, One South Broad, Market Street National Bank, and The Drake.

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