What’s this SEPTA bus stop doing on the roof of 1529 Walnut?

There is a bus stop on top of a building in Center City.

Specifically, there is a bus stop for SEPTA Routes 2, 9, 12, 21, and 42 on top of 1529 Walnut Street.

In terms of odd things stacked on each other, this ranks pretty high. Maybe not goat on a cow high, but still: high. Literally six stories high.

The building’s owner, Pearl Properties, is currently redeveloping it and the neighboring property. As part of the construction, Pearl is doubling the building’s height. When Inga Saffron praised the project’s design in February, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic did not mention any plans for mid-level terraced transit or a Claes Oldenburg-esque sculpture, leading PlanPhilly to believe that this was a temporary detour for the bus shelter.

Determined to get to the bottom of why the stop was on top, PlanPhilly called Pearl Properties, SEPTA, the Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, the mayor’s press office, and Intersection (née Titan Outdoor), the billboard advertising company that owns Philly’s bus shelters. But the oddly elevated stop was news to all of them.

Rooftop bus stop from neighboring building, courtesy of Sylvia Palms of Locus Partners
Photo: Sylvia Palms | Locus Partners (Sylvia Palms | Locus Partners)

After a few hours, Mike Dunn, a spokesman for Mayor Jim Kenney, came through with some sensible answers for something that seemed like an absurdist art installation.

“The contractor, Wellcraft Construction, is working at 1529 Walnut Street,” Dunn told PlanPhilly in an email. “The firm tells [Licenses and Inspections] officials that the shelter was in the way of a delivery and they made the decision to move it. The contractor states that it is securely fastened. Nonetheless, L&I has ordered it removed from the roof.”

An Intersection employee said that the company was not notified before the stop slipped its terrestrial shackles for the glory of the heavens. She also said that this was the first time she had ever heard of a bus stop being relocated, temporarily or otherwise, to the roof of a building.

Hat tip to Sylvia Palms of Locus Partners for bringing the soaring shelter to PlanPhilly’s attention via a Facebook post/photo caption contest. Counting the number of likes, the winning entry belongs to Alex Feldman: “This new bus route will connect directly to Bart Blatstein’s rooftop French village.

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