Center City

Comcast Center (right) in the Philadelphia skyline. Photo by Thomas Koloski

Looking Back at the Comcast Center, Philadelphia’s Former Tallest Skyscraper

The Comcast Center at 1701 John F. Kennedy Boulevard is the first of a two-tower complex, which had drastically changed the Center City skyline when it passed the height of One Liberty Place, becoming Philadelphia’s tallest building. The structure was completed in 2008 and stands 974 feet and 58 stories tall, with a concrete core and steel floors. The exterior features high quality, mirror-like glass, a departure from the traditional masonry style that Robert A.M. Stern Architects is known for, as seen in limestone-clad towers such as The Alexander at 1601 Vine Street and 30 Park Place in New York City.

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Broad Street Station with City Hall. Photo from City of Philadelphia, Department of Records

A Look Back at “the Chinese Wall,” an Elevated Viaduct that Once Ran Through Center City

In the late 1800’s, ten city blocks in Center City were converted into an elevated railroad spur that serviced multiple rail lines, connected to the Broad Street Station just to the west of City Hall, near the current space Dilworth Park. A massive train shed stood behind the station, rising multiple stories tall and prominent from many directions. Designed by the Wilson Brothers, the project was developed by the Pennsylvania Railroad and was completed on December 5, 1881. The centerpiece was a five-story Victorian Gothic headhouse facing City Hall.

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One Meridian Plaza (left) in the Philadelphia skyline. Photo via Daily Press

The Tragic Story of One Meridian Plaza

One Meridian Plaza was a 492-foot-tall, 38-story skyscraper that used to stand on the current site of the Residences at Ritz Carlton and the W/Element Hotel at 1416 South Penn Square in Center City, across from City Hall. The building began construction in 1968 and opened in 1972, just after the construction of the 1980’s skyscraper boom. Designed by Vincent and Kling and Associates and developed by Girard Bank and Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance, the tower was extensively damaged by a fatal fire in 1991 and demolished in 1999.

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