Four Areas of Center City in Desperate Need of a Developer’s Touch

Nowadays, development in Philadelphia seems to be focused heavily on neighborhoods and districts surrounding Center City. But it’s not as though Center City is finished. Here we present four areas of Center City that are in desperate need of the right developer’s touch. These spots have issues due to a variety of reasons: slumlords, environmental problems, lack of interest, you name it. Read more »

Whatever Happened to…the Vulcanite Paving Company at 17th and Market?

Check out this beauty from a time when even a small-time office building was something to design the crap out of. The Vulcanite Building, besides having one of the coolest building names ever, was a masterpiece of commercial design that only stood for 34 years and came to an unceremonious end to make room for a project that never happened.

Doctor Ludwig Sprang Filbert was the child of two of Berks County’s original families. Working himself up from nothing, this genius became so singularly known in the medical field that people just referred to him as “The Doctor.” In 1870, at 55, The Doctor said, “Screw this” and gave up medicine to start the Vulcanite Paving Company out of his rowhouse at 1902 Green Street.

The Doctor had some kind of futuristic knowledge about asphalt. He invented his own patented mixture, Filbert’s Vulcanized Compressed Asphaltum, and made an exclusive deal to become the only paver in the region who imported Trinidad Asphalt, which had only started being mined from the Trinidad Pitch Lake a few years earlier. Almost immediately, the Vulcanite Paving Company was covering roadways, driveways, sidewalks, basements, backyards, slaughterhouse floors, roofs and everywhere else that needed waterproofing. Read more »

The Amazing History of the People’s Trust Co. at 12th and Arch, Once Home to the Fabric Workshop

This old postcard shows a rendering of the building from before it was built.

Now here’s a building from when they knew how to build buildings. The People’s Trust Company Building ruled the corner of 12th and Arch for eight decades. Its unusual design and construction made it a marvel in its own time…but that crap didn’t matter when the Pennsylvania Convention Center came along to knock it out of existence.

The short-lived People’s Trust Company of Philadelphia was chartered on September 21, 1906, and started out in a small office at 1006 Arch Street. Almost immediately, this new financial institution, just a branch of a nationwide series of People’s Trust Companies, put together plans to build a speculative 10-story high-rise only a block away. This neighborhood was going through an extremely rapid change at the time.

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Whatever Happened to…Northern National Bank?

We welcome to these digital pages GroJLart, author and editor of the blog Philaphilia, who chronicles Philadelphia history and development in a spicy way. In this ongoing series, GroJLart writes about buildings that have been lost to the wrecking ball or otherwise suffered ignominious fates. — Ed

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