From Above: Frank Furness’ Broad Street Station, 1920

For this From Above we head to the heart of Center City in 1920, with an up-close look at City Hall and the old the Broad Street Station.

We have Frank Furness fever, so in honor of all of the festivities planned around Furness’ legacy this fall today’s From Above captures his now-lost Pennsylvania Railroad’s Broad Street Station. If you couldn’t guess it’s the Victorian pile just above City Hall in the image above. In 1892 Furness was brought in by the Pennsylvania Railroad to adapt Wilson Brothers’ original 1881 building. His design was bold, highly contemporary, and richly ornamented – all meant to symbolize Pennsy’s prowess. (Check out this amazing 1894 photograph of the Broad Street Station taken by William H. Rau.)

Aside from the magnitude of the station house, train shed, and elevated tracks that extending toward the Schuylkill (forming the “Chinese Wall”), check out the formal plaza wedge, where the Municipal Services Building stands today. That space was conceived by Jacques Gréber as the formal terminus of the Fairmount Parkway, which was still under construction at the time this photograph was taken. Zoom in and you’ll notice that those neat lines in the central plaza are rows of seats, set up for some sort of concert or rally maybe? (Any guesses?) Also note the bisected wedge that would become LOVE Park.

Go ahead and kill a few Friday afternoon minutes poking around what was 1920s version of Market West and Centre Square.


This image is part of the Free Library’s Print and Picture Collection, and is used by PlanPhilly/Eyes on the Street with the express permission of Aerial Viewpoint, which owns these aerial images. For reproductions contact Aerial Viewpoint.

To learn more background about these aerial photographs, head over here.

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