Turn back the clock many decades, and Columbia Avenue (now Cecil B. Moore Avenue) was the major commercial corridor in North Philadelphia. A massive riot in 1964 decimated the corridor though, and the damage was so extensive that it still hasn’t really recovered. Only in recent years have we seen consistent development activity on Cecil B. Moore Avenue, but that’s almost exclusively tied to the expanding footprint of Temple University. Further west, there are still numerous vacant lots and blighted buildings, but we believe that eventually the development from Brewerytown will start to push onto Cecil B.; in fact we’re already starting to see some small projects move forward.
We were in Brewerytown the other day and made our way to Cecil B. Moore Avenue to see whether we could find any such projects. Nothing really caught our eye in terms of development, but we did happen upon some buildings that stopped us in our tracks. When they were first built, 2336-40 Cecil B. Moore Avenue were probably breathtaking, with amazing architectural details the likes of which would fit in near Rittenhouse Square. Despite the fact that the buildings are perhaps a little worse for wear, they’ve held up really well over the years. Check ’em out:
2414-18 Cecil B. Moore Ave. were clearly constructed at the same time as 2336-40 Cecil B. Moore Ave., and by the same architect. But these buildings have undergone considerable alteration over the years, losing most of the details that make their sister buildings so impressive.
It’s pretty rare to see such a clear comparison between buildings that look largely as they did when they were first built and identical buildings that have been changed almost beyond recognition. First hand, the contrast is even more striking than in the photos. Unfortunately, it’s probably rather likely that the western buildings will be demolished at some point, and not very likely that the eastern buildings will get restored to their former glory.