YIMBY has presented extensive coverage on the development of the Philadelphia skyline over the decades. In its early years, church steeples, factory chimneys, and shot towers dominated the skyline, rising above numerous low-rise buildings. Office towers began to rise in the early twentieth century, as businesses flocked to Center City, and proliferated more rapidly in the following decades, particularly in the past 40 years. Today we present an animated rendering of the skyline, showing how the mass of skyscrapers had risen from 1901 to 2020. Each frame shows the towers under their current construction status for the year depicted.
In the first frame, City Hall juts out prominently yet is still mostly hidden from view. A cluster of buildings was starting to form over the next 20 years, with more buildings were rising within the area around City Hall, such as One South Broad and the PSFS Building, the latter being notable as one of the first Modernist skyscrapers in the world. The skyline expanded further over the next 50 years, with buildings such as 1700 Market Street and the PECO Building constructed by the end of the 1960s.
In the 1970s, noticeably larger office towers were on the rise, giving the skyline more mass. High-rises such as One Meridian Plaza, Centre Square 1 and 2, and 1818 Market Street were approaching the informal 548-foot limit set by City Hall. In the next decade, the 945-foot-tall One Liberty Place and a number of other buildings passed the former height limit. By now, still more skyscrapers have joined the skyline, with the Comcast Technology Center standing as the city’s tallest skyscraper at 1,121 feet in height.