Iconic PNB signs proving tough to take down

 Safety concerns prevented crews from removing all 12 letters from the former Philadelphia National Bank building on South Broad Street on Sunday. (Image courtesy of NBC 10 video)

Safety concerns prevented crews from removing all 12 letters from the former Philadelphia National Bank building on South Broad Street on Sunday. (Image courtesy of NBC 10 video)

Three of the four groups of 16-foot-tall “PNB” letters that for decades adorned a Center City high-rise are still there after crews deemed them too fragile to bring down safely.

On Sunday morning, a helicopter took down three of the 12 letters that once belonged to Philadelphia National Bank, the property’s former owner.

Wells Fargo, the primary occupant of One South Broad Street, is removing the PNB signs that ring the crown of the iconic building because they are structurally unsound. Wells Fargo spokesperson Barbara Nate said work stopped after crews feared that the remaining letters would break apart.

“We’re regrouping with the sign company. We need their analysis of the situation to see if there needs to be any further research or another plan of removal,” said Nate.

That means the project’s new timeline is pretty blurry at this point.

On Sunday, several streets had to be shut down for the operation. Using helicopters again would require approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“It may be that they decide that that is not a safe way to remove the remainder of the letters,” said Nate.

The blue and white letters are more than a half-century old and each weigh 3,000 pounds.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.