Today, the most significant thing about the northeast corner of 13th & Locust is on the building next to it, which casts a stunning mural against the busy intersection. But the corner lot itself has a compelling invisible history. According to The Gayborhood Guru, the site was occupied by rowhouses until the early 1860s. It was at this juncture that the growing College of Physicians of Philadelphia used an endowment from Dr. Thomas Mütter to build the two-story institute of learning. Indeed, in addition to housing a lecture hall and medical library, the first floor of the building served as the first home of the Mütter Museum. The image below, taken from G.M. Hopkins Philadelphia Atlas, identifies the building as a Medical College in 1875.
The Gayborhood Guru notes that the building had been outfitted with a third floor by 1883. The image below shows the expanded Medical College in 1900.
According to the Gayborhood Guru, the Medical College had once again outgrown its facilities after the turn of the century. In 1909, the school picked up and moved to 22nd Street, taking the Mütter Museum and its medical oddities with them. Their old stomping grounds would not be dormant for long though. The Guru provides us with the photo below, and advertisement from the 1910s, announcing the new location of the city’s Free Library.
The library is shown here below in a Philadelphia Department of Records photo from 1916.
With the construction of the Ben Franklin Parkway and the emergence of the city’s museum district, the Free Library moved to its current Parkway home in 1929. Within two years, the building at the northeast corner of 13th & Locust would be torn down to make way for a parking lot.
Even as the neighborhood shifted around it, the parking lot remained a fixture in the coming years. The Department of Records photo below shows the lot in 1960, a point at which the neighborhood had largely devolved into a collection of night spots.
Today, the E-Z Park is, as always, best distinguished by its surroundings. The building directly to the east, a newer structure, houses Philadelphia FIGHT and the AIDS Library as well as, in 1999, providing the canvas for the eye-catching “Philadelphia Muses” mural shown in the present day image below. Perhaps eventually, redevelopment will come to this lot, though it will be sad to see it come at the expense of one of the trippiest murals in town.