Photos: Then and now Philadelphia’s North Broad Street

    In the late 19th century when Philadelphia was considered the “Workshop of the World,” North Broad Street was a grand boulevard lined with impressive mansions and buildings that would become iconic landmarks like the Lorraine Apartments — now the decrepit Divine Lorraine Hotel — and the Metropolitan Opera House.

    Then and Now photos is an ongoing series from Keystone Crossroads that looks at historical images of the past and photographs of today from Pennsylvania cities and towns.

    In the late 19th century when Philadelphia was considered the “Workshop of the World,” North Broad Street was a grand boulevard lined with impressive mansions and buildings that would become iconic landmarks like the Lorraine Apartments — now the decrepit Divine Lorraine Hotel —  and the Metropolitan Opera House.

    “It was big and wide,” said author and forensic architect Robert Morris Skaler. “About six carriages could go side-by-side, so it was a great street to jump on your carriage and go all the way out, perhaps to Diamond … there were so many churches on the street that, on a nice Sunday afternoon, it was packed. People walking back and forth — it’s almost like a Boardwalk.”

    WHYY’s NewsWorks Tonight producer Shai Ben-Yaacov interviewed Skaler, who wrote “Philadelphia’s Broad Street South and North.” The book is filled with historic images of the street during it’s golden age. Photographer Emma Lee captured the modern day views from similar vantage points on Broad Street in the gallery above.  Read their original report, “North Broad a street of dreams during short-lived golden age” published Nov. 20, 2012.

    Today the future of North Broad Street hangs in limbo.  Developer Bart Blatstein is vying for Philadelphia’s second casino license with the proposed Provence, a $700 million project that would be housed in the former Philadelphia Inquirer building near Vine Street and developer Eric Blumenfeld has ambitious plans to revitalize both the Divine Lorraine Hotel and Metropolitan Opera House.

    No decisions have been made by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on where Philadelphia’s next casino will land.

     Historical images are from “Philadelphia’s Broad Street South and North,” by Robert Skaler courtesy of Arcadia Publishing.

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