Delorean Time Machine: The Independent Hotel

The intersection of 13th & Locust has long been a thriving and commercially dense area.  However, our interest is with a corner at which very little of great importance seemed to take place prior to the 20th century.  The image here below, taken from G.W. Bromley’s 1895 Philadelphia Atlas, shows a southeast corner without an occupant notable enough to warrant identification on the map. 

The nondescript southeast corner of 13th & Locust, 1895

Though a lack of cartographic information on this corner would continue well into the early 1900s, there is some photographic documentation.  An image taken from the Department of Records shows the corner in 1917, occupied by what appears to be a combination business office and residential establishment. 

Probably a combination office/residential building, 1917

The relatively modest building shown above would soon be dramatically upgraded with the construction of a new home for the Philadelphia Real Estate Board. Philadelphia Architects and Buildings tells that this first noteworthy inhabitant of the corner was probably inserted around 1922.  The image below, taken from the same site, is dated to the mid-1920s and shows the far larger and more modern structure now in place.

The Philadelphia Real Estate Board, 1920s. It was low-res back then.

The Philadelphia Real Estate Board established a home at the newly instated building.  According to a passage in the National Real Estate and Building Journal, “the Philadelphia Real Estate Board pride[d] itself upon being the civic as well as the leading business organization of Philadelphia.” 

Over the course of the Board’s occupancy, the building’s street-level would change renters with some regularity.  The Department of Records image here below shows the Real Estate Board building in 1940 with an Old Grad Tavern situated close to the corner.  

The Real Estate Board and the Old Grad Tavern, 1940

Any number of occupants is likely to have passed through the first floor of 1234 Locust St. over the next two decades.  The next available image, a Department of Records photo from 1964, shows a Pizzeria and a next-door neighbor whose identity we couldn’t confirm.

First floor occupants, a Pizzeria and the “Quo” something-or-other, 1964

We aren’t entirely certain when the Real Estate Board moved out, nor when the current occupant moved in, but today the building is occupied by the boutique Independent Hotel.  The structure was renovated and a fourth story was added.  Otherwise, the corner appears today very much as it did more than 90 years ago. 

We welcome any information on the departure of the Real Estate Board or the arrival of the Independent Hotel from our community of knowledgeable readers.

The Independent Hotel, 2014