Inga Saffron, Betsy Manning do Northeast Philadelphia modern architecture

By Christopher Wink

Many of the Northeast communities we recognize today were formulated fairly recently for a city of great age.

Between the end of World War II and the 1970s, the growth of a new, modern architectural style occurred lock and step with the same growth of the Northeast.

And we’re finally getting our due.

Betsy Manning, a Northwood resident and photographer for Temple University’s communications department, has made it a mission of hers to document that style throughout Philadelphia, and much of it is in our Northeast, as Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron wrote on Friday.

Manning has launched a Web site, Architectural Wallflowers, to share some of her photos, but she has far more, many of her shots could change how people see the Northeast and modernist architecture.

Saffron’s take on the style’s development: Perhaps because their designers were struggling to adapt a highway architecture to a predominantly urban environment, the Northeast’s modernist buildings needed to work at two scales, one seen from the road, the other from the sidewalk. A perfect example on [Manning’s] Web site is the soaring glass vault of the old Penn Fruit store, [depicted above] now a Thriftway, on Frankford Avenue, that beams its presence across the street to crowds streaming into the Market-Frankford El. [Source] Other than the current Thriftway in Frankford, Saffron makes mention of 1950-era Stein Flowers in Tacony on Frankford Avenue, Ott’s Cameras north of Castor Gardens and the Northeast Regional Library near Rhawnhurst.

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