King of K&A: Plain Sights at Wishart St. & Kensington Ave.

The Flomar Building, now home to Esperanza Health Center and the Hispanic Community and Counseling Services, in K&A (Kensington and Allegheny), serves as an example of a would-be eyesore that went from neighborhood burden to neighborhood benefit.

The building was built in 1928 for the Northeastern Title and Trust Company. While other banks in the area were building low-slung Neoclassical stone castles, Northeastern opted for a brick high-rise. While it was an ostentatious megalith that represented the company’s success, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 led to Northeastern merging with the Industrial Trust Company of Philadelphia, and taking on its name in 1930.

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Up, Up and Away: Plain Sights at 34th & Girard

Long, snowy winters are nothing new to Philadelphians, but this season’s accumulation did some serious damage, counting among its victims the beloved Channel 6 ZooBalloon. The first attraction of its kind, the ZooBalloon carried riders 400 feet above the nation’s first zoo, providing for sweeping views of the Schuylkill River, Fairmount Park and the Philadelphia skyline.
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What’s in a Name?

Story and Photos by Bradley MauleWilliam Allen wielded a lot of influence in colonial Pennsylvania—he was a merchant who built upon his father’s fortune, he helped finance the construction of Independence Hall, and he was a one-term Philadelphia mayor and a longtime chief justice of the Province of Pennsylvania. Mount Airy, his nine-acre estate, gave the neighborhood its name and is fronted on Germantown Avenue where the Lutheran Theological Seminary now stands. Despite Allen's prominence, his legacy isn't honored uniformly. 
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Pi in the Sky: The aerial tram that was never built

This section of Columbus Blvd. would be capped in the new plan for Penn's Landing.Along Philadelphia's central Delaware Riverfront, where an iconic bridge connects cars, commuter trains, cyclists and pedestrians with Camden's Riverfront, there was a time when the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA)wanted to add an aerial tram. The Penn's Landing Corporation, in support of DRPA, included the tram as a requisite for a redevelopment design contest in 2003. Ten years and many millions of dollars later, that time and those ideas have passed, leaving only a massive concrete “pi,” surrounded by a sea of surface parking.
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Bridge to the Past

Buried beneath a leafy canopy and camouflaged by summer shrubbery, this brick skew arch bridge has kept its integrity 116 years after its construction and 67 years after the last trolley ran through it. Originally built for the Fairmount Park Transit Company in 1897 with 15 consecutive angled brick arches, the “Chamounix Tunnel” ported trolleys that ran a loop through the park under Old Chamounix Road. That road was struck from the grid long ago and now serves as both a mountain bike trail and a footpath for travelers en route to the Chamounix youth hostel.

For more on this story, visit the Hidden City Daily,

Revival House

This unusual specimen of Victorian Romanesque Revival architecture near Norris Square in Kensington is a multicultural marvel: a German history with an Asian owner in a Latino neighborhood. Built in 1890, the hall hosted several German Singing Societies, including the Banater Maennerchor “male chorus.” During its 1920s heyday, the Maennerchor not only sang, but also offered free classes, trained local homeless men and sponsored a renowned soccer team. Following a 1939 merger, Maennerchor became the United German Hungarian Club, and eventually moved outside the city to Oakford, Pa., in 1961. The current owners have leased the building to an organization that wants to convert it into an art gallery. For more on this story,  visit the Hidden City Daily,

Pros and Kahns

20th Century Chestnut Hill, a six-month exhibition at the Chestnut Hill Historical Society (8708 Germantown Ave.), gives proper due to the mid-century homes tucked under that neighborhood’s famous green canopy. Featuring drawings, plans and models, the exhibition profiles the likes of Robert Venturi, Romaldo Giurgola, Oskar Stonorov, and Louis Kahn. The Esherick House, pictured here, was designed by Kahn in 1959 and is one of only nine homes designed by him and built in his lifetime. Located at 204 Sunrise Lane, on a spacious property abutting Pastorius Park, the home is noted for T-shapes that Kahn later applied to other, larger structures, as well as a custom kitchen by Wharton Esherick, whose niece Margaret was the first owner of the house. For more on this story, visit Hidden City Daily,