Recently, Philly YIMBY has covered the rising Philadelphia skyline from the Interstate 95 South and the Walt Whitman Bridge. Today we look at the skyline from the outlook at the Interstate 676 in Camden, New Jersey, which reveal a unique view of Philadelphia’s skyscrapers. The I-676 circles around the city as the Vine Street Expressway cuts through the north side of Center City, then heads south toward the Sports Complex and turns back to the Walt Whitman Bridge. The I-676 then heads south and becomes Route 42, while heading north on the highway takes one toward Camden and onto the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which leads back to the Vine Street Expressway and further in University City and beyond.
The Walt Whitman Bridge presents an excellent vantage point for a showcase of the major projects that are rising in the Philadelphia skyline. Today Philadelphia YIMBY shares photos of the city taken from the suspension bridge, which is one of the largest structures that spans the Delaware River, with towers that stand 378 feet tall. The west end of the bridge is situated just to the north of the Port of Philadelphia, from where it heads east to Gloucester City, New Jersey on the other side of the river and provides access to Camden, Trenton, Atlantic City, and beyond. The route to New Jersey features a view of billboards that annoyingly block the skyline from the Philadelphia side, the Southwark Generating Station and its four white chimneys. However, when heading west towards the city, the bridge offers panoramic views of the skyline.
In the 1970s the Philadelphia skyline was on the rise, with bulky new office towers being constructed throughout Center City. At this time, the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” was untouched, as every structure stood below the height of the statue of William Penn at the top of City Hall. New high-rises were adding substantial amounts of office space and dominated the previous structures that stood out in the skyline, and featured various designs with stone, metal, and glass cladding. Philadelphia YIMBY presents massing renderings of the skyline as it stood in 1975, when Brutalist architecture dominated much of the financial district, including the area around City Hall.
In the mid-1980s, the Philadelphia skyline rose as an even, roughly 500-foot plateau, particularly when viewed from the north and south. Though the skyline spanned a great expanse length-wise, it remained at a low profile, in great part thanks to the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” to not build above the 548-foot-tall pinnacle of the City Hall, which sat just beneath the 37-foot-tall statue of William Penn, the state’s founder. Philly YIMBY presents exclusive massing renderings of the city skyline just as it appeared in 1985, just before One Commerce Square and One Liberty Place both broke ground, starting their challenge to the skyline in the summer.
The Philadelphia skyline has long provided an iconic image for the city and the state, with high-rise buildings dating back to the late 19th century, the most iconic being the City Hall, which topped out in 1894 as the tallest habitable building in the world, a title it held until 1908. Each era of skyscraper construction has made a significant impact on the skyline, with prominent types of skyscrapers defining each time period. The city has recently seen a skyscraper construction boom, which began around 2017, with many high-rises completed and under construction since that time. Philadelphia YIMBY looks at some of the most impactful structures that the city has received during this period.