PRR steam plant chimney imploded at 30th Street

Nov. 15

By Matt Golas
For PlanPhilly

Under the watchful eyes of the City of Philadelphia emergency management folks, police and hundred of onlookers, the 400-foot, brick facaded chimney that loomed over the 30th Street Steam heating plant ceased to exist Sunday morning when the Testa Corporation and Controlled Demolition, Inc. imploded the structure using a small amount of explosives that destroyed selected key supports.

Following warning horns and a single loud blast, the chimney fell in a straightforward manner, pretty much on top of the prepared landing area. The sound of individual chunks of debris clinking across the site was the only residual noise. It was apparent that CDI has used this implosion method thousands of times around the world during the past 55 years to remove unwanted structures.

A wave of debris dust, an unpreventable byproduct of this type of demolition, floated briefly past the station and toward the old Philadelphia Bulletin building. The dust settled quickly near the deconstructed chimney. The remainder of the plant will be taken down using wrecking balls.

Before dawn, the Philadelphia and Amtrak Police Departments set up a Safety Zone around the chimney (also called the Drexel Shaft), which was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White and built in 1929. Since 30th Street Station is on the National Register of Historic Places, there was some strong sentiment to save the plant which had been out of service since the early 1960s.

See column on plant by Inga Saffron

Contact the reporter at mgolas@design.upenn.edu

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