Today a press release found its way to our inbox, announcing the Spruce Street Harbor Park at the Penn's Landing Marina. This two-month pop-up will include the creation of a little pier that has a restaurant, a water garden, and nets that will allow visitors to feel like they're walking on the water in the river without actually having to touch it. On the shore, you'll find a boardwalk, misting areas, some temporary fountains, a hammock garden (!), and an urban beach. Sorry Sugarbeach, there's a new game in town this summer!
Several years ago, a Citibank branch opened its doors at the corner of 2nd & South. This always struck us as a little odd, as Citi didn't really have much of a presence in Philadelphia. But perhaps, we thought, this location would be a first foray into a new market for this hulking banking giant, and soon Citi would be as ubiquitous as PNC or Bank of America.
In the past
Alas, it seems that this was not the case. Passing by over the weekend, we discovered that the Citibank has closed here, and the space is now vacant. A Metro Commercial sign in the window suggests it's available for rent. We would have to think that this space will be attractive for any number of new tenants.
Today, if you want to take in a movie without venturing too far from Center City, your options are limited. So it’s hard to believe that there was a time when roughly 400 movie houses lined this city’s streets. According to Hidden City Philadelphia, only 5 of these classic theatres remain in operation today. One of the many that have been defunct since the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age is located at 425 South St. and was once known as the Model Theatre. The image here below, taken from G.W. Bromley’s 1910 Philadelphia Atlas, shows the location roughly around the time that construction on the Model Theatre would have been underway.
The structure at 412 Lombard St. has always been a house of worship. While the structure’s general purpose hasn’t changed at all in more than 220 years of existence, its congregation has changed a few times. According to PhilaPlace, the plot began its life as the site of the Universalist First Independent Church of Christ in 1793. The image below, taken from the Kesher Israel website, shows the church’s original deed.
An old deed indeed
Given its independent spirit, the church welcomed speeches from alternative Christian thinkers like Unitarian theologian Joseph Priestly and Mormon founder Joseph Smith. The image below, taken from Frontier History, shows a church ledger from 1840 indicating that Smith had been paid $13.63 for a sermon that, by all accounts, captivated the 3000 in attendance.
The northeast corner of 5th & South has come to reflect the identity of its surrounding neighborhood at various points in history, beginning as far back as 1775. This is when, according to the Library Company of Philadelphia, English gentleman Charles Hurst erected his estate. At this juncture, according to The Black Bottom, South Street was known as Cedar Street and was the southernmost boundary of the city proper. Old Cedar Street is shown here below in an image taken from John Hills map of Philadelphia and Vicinity.
Cedar Street serving as the border between Philadelphia and Southwark in 1808
Baron Hurst, as he was also known, possessed a wealth of land in Society Hill during the Revolutionary Era but the Mansion served as his primary residence. The watercolor painting below is taken from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and shows the estate as it would have appeared in 1817.