During its boom years in the 1980s and the 1990s, the Philadelphia skyline saw multiple tower proposals, many of which ended up not being built. Among these was Park Tower, located at 1501 Arch Street in Center City. Designed by Skidmore Owings and Merrill, the two-towered development would include a 32-story, 480-foot-tall building on Cherry Street and the shorter high-rise standing 230 feet and 18 stories tall. The buildings would feature facades clad in red brick and white stone cladding. Today Philadelphia YIMBY looks back at the development and how it would fit into the skyline.
In the 1920s, Philadelphia was on the rise, with industry and was with business activity bustling across the city. The port was generally busy, the skyline was growing, and as automobiles surged in numbers, the city was in need of bridges spanning the Delaware River and connecting to New Jersey on the other side. The proposed Philadelphia-Red Bank Bridge was brought to public attention by Mayor J. Hampton Moore, who suggested that the city is in dire need of a new bridge at its south end. The bridge would have been situated very close to the present location of the Walt Whitman Bridge, though slightly further west and running from the north to the south rather than from the west to the east.
In February, Philly YIMBY published an examination of the Twin Independence Blue Cross Tower proposal that was planned in the mid-1980s. The Independence Blue Cross Tower were designed by WZMH Architects, who also designed the CN Tower in Toronto, Canda. The developer, The Linpro Company, intended to build two 45-story towers on the 1900 block of Market Street. Each would have stood 625 feet tall, located 1901 Market Street and 1919 Market Street in Center City. If built as a twin pair, they would have stood next to the 565-foot Commerce Square towers, another pair of twin high-rises.
In the 1950s, Philadelphia was starting to see a rise in new development as developers focused on Center City, particularly after the demolition of the “Chinese Wall” opened up a large swath of space from City Hall to the Schuylkill River. A wild proposal called the City Tower was revealed in the late 1950s at 1400 Arch Street, where the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building currently stands. The 30-story tower would have stood just to the north of City Hall. The tower was designed by Louis I. Kahn in a dramatic Futurist style, as the building’s design and form were way ahead of its time.
During the planning for the Centennial Exposition of 1876, expo organizers put forth a bold proposal for an incredibly tall structure called the Centennial Tower in Fairmount Park, where two buildings still remain from the expo. The tower was planned at 1,000 feet tall, well before any skyscrapers were built in the city. The tower would have risen as large cross-braced tube that slims down at the top, capped with a short cone top and lightning rod, and would have featured four observation levels. The metal structure was designed by Clarke, Reeves and Company, which had also designed an older bridge that stood at then site of the current Girard Avenue Bridge.