In October of last year, Philadelphia YIMBY published an extensive article covering developments that are under construction and proposed across the city. The visuals illustrated the future of the city’s skyline, coordinated in height in terms of placement of the new projects. Since, several new proposals have been revealed, a number of which will have an impact on the skyline. Today we present an updated version of the future appearance of the Philadelphia skyline.
Over the decades, the Philadelphia skyline has seen many transformations with different iconic images, such as when City Hall stood all alone in the early 1900s. One of the key years in the high-rise history of the city is 1987, when One Liberty Place dramatically surpassed City Hall in height and opened later in the same year. Another key year is 2018, when the skyline gained its first supertall tower with the completion of the Comcast Technology Center. Today Philly YIMBY compares the skyline’s appearance in 1987 to its state in 2020.
In the 1940s, development in Philadelphia progressed at a slow pace as over the previous four years the United States of America was engaged in World War II after Japan’s surprise attack on Pear Harbor on December 7, 1941, further slowed down by the Great Depression, which lasted through the 1930s. However, in the preceding decades, many ornate buildings rose into the skyline with fantastic masonry designs. Most of the largest buildings were built around the City Hall in Center City, which created a hub of development when the Second Empire style building was completed in 1901.
In the late 1980s, in rapid succession, a series of skyscrapers broke through the long-held “Gentlemen’s Agreement” that unofficially restricted Philadelphia’s buildings from rising above the 548-foot-tall pinnacle of City Hall, creating the now-iconic skyline of Center City. While the skyscraper cluster transformed the area to the west of City Hall, the Market East district to the east continues to lag behind in terms of an imposing skyline. However, East Market Phase 3, developed by National Real Estate Development as part of the East Market complex and currently under construction at 1101-53 Chestnut Street, will boost the local skyline with a pair of towers rising 364 and 288 feet tall. The buildings will bring one million square feet of medical office, residential, and retail space to the neighborhood, and add a sizable public plaza. Today we take a detailed look at the transformative project.
Today Philly YIMBY observes the city from the Interstate 95, where the skyline opens into a dramatic view. The highway is one of the longest in the country as it starts in Florida and travels north along the East Coast going through 15 states for 1,908 miles to the Canada border in Maine. But in Philadelphia, the I-95 runs along the Delaware River past the Girard Point Bridge, the sports complex, and the Navy Yard. The highway then turns north and runs under the Walt Whitman Bridge, past the decommissioned SS United States, which once held the Blue Riband as the fastest transatlantic ocean liner. The highway then travels past Penn’s Landing and under the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, where it turns to the northeast to head towards Trenton and New York City.