Everyday Ruins in Philadelphia, Part 2


We’re taking a look at some everyday history that you see around Philadelphia, just walking or driving or biking around our fine city.

For Part 1, click here

4) Remaining freight tracks

Here you can see where old freight tracks from Washington Ave. led into this building, now holding a U-Haul branch where we’ve all gotten terrible customer service at some point. Washington Ave. was once a major rail thoroughfare.

Here’s some tracks that belonged to the Willow Street freight thoroughfare, as we discussed a couple weeks ago in a post about the mysterious York Ave.

5) Police and Fire Call Boxes

At various points throughout the city you can still spot old emergency call boxes that were once part of an extensive emergency telegraph network. This is one of the more complete ones on 4th street below Spring Garden, standing as one of the only remains of the residential neighborhood that was once there. Most of the others that survive are just a pole. Later on, they were converted to telephone use. If you ever do catch one of these, enjoy it and take a picture, because they are quickly disappearing. This guy is selling one on ebay for $2,500 even though you can see this one here on the sidewalk.

6) Old street signs

Every once in awhile you can find a street sign that for some reason was never replaced. They’re usually white but you get extra credit if you can fine a brown one. You may also find some that are still mounted on the corners of old buildings and houses. Interestingly, our current street signs are now being replaced with new signs with larger text. You’ll know them by their lower case letters.

7) Ghost Signs

You can find these everywhere. They’re old ads that were painted on buildings back in the day. SCRUB would never allow these today- in fact they were used as an example of blight when SCRUB first formed. Sigh. If you’re really hardcore you can find the ones that labeled highrises. For a catalog of almost all of the ghost signs in Philly, check out this blog.

So there you have it. Philadelphia is like a museum without the price of admission. Unless you’re coming from Jersey, then it’s five bucks. Do some exploring on your own and see what you can find. It’s kind of like the Internet- the origin of everything you find is probably in there somewhere.

-GroJLart, philaphilia.blogspot.com