Category: Architecture & Design

Philly: “A City With a Rich History of Municipal Incompetence.” But for Once We’re Not Alone.

philadelphia building collapse

Photo: Bradley Maule

In Next City, Patrick Kerkstra makes Philly negative exceptionalists feel better by pointing out that while Philadelphia demolition regulations are, indeed, lax, it’s far from alone. His lede is priceless:

“In Philadelphia, a city with a rich history of municipal incompetence, there’s a natural impulse to assume the worst about city government when tragedy strikes…”

But that wouldn’t be fair, he says. In fact, Kerkstra analyzed 12 cities and found that Philadelphia’s inadequate supervision of demolition is typical of many large cities. So much so that this could, Kerkstra points out, happen anywhere.

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Brad Pitt Movie Set in Philly But Filmed in Glasgow Opens This Weekend

world war z

Are those Philly cops? Those are Philly cops! Photo: Paramount

Due to the state of Pennsylvania’s occasional, shall we say, recalcitrance regarding the city of Philadelphia, there were budgetary issues that prevented World War Z from filming here. Based on a novel set in Philly, the zombie film was slated for a Philly shoot when tax exemptions didn’t come through with the necessary alacrity. Disappointed, the filmmakers had to make do with Glasgow as a Philadelphia stand-in, for better and worse.

Below, some stills and screen grabs that show how Glasgow looks when it’s tarted up as Philly, and what CGI can do that the state of PA wouldn’t. Some of it is rather impressive, but don’t get excited about the video game, which doesn’t even try to use Philly. Instead, it says: “Meanwhile, in Denver…” Fie.

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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. More →

Add Drama to Your Home with Exposed Brick Walls

An exposed brick wall at 103-7 Church St., #8, Philadelphia.

Exposed Brick Walls Looking for a way to add drama to a room? Consider incorporating an exposed brick wall. This accent style can serve as the focal point of a room, giving it a sense of elegance or prestige. Exposed brick walls have fallen in and out of favor over time. During the Renaissance, for [...]

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Exquisite: Laura Kicey’s Photos of Former Lace Factory

scranton lace

Photo: Laura Kicey

“Get out of town,” said Cole Porter. “Don’t fence me in,” he said, also. The guy had serious wanderlust, and when it’s nice out, so do we. This weekend Property photographer Laura Kicey went to the former Scranton Lace Factory for another Abandoned America photo workshop. The photographs she got are absolutely gorgeous, but she also learned a bit about what’s happening to the building–which is more than to the SS United States, the subject of her last extensive photo gallery of this sort.

Though it looks abandoned, the building–which was featured on National Geographic’s Abandoned program–has had some recent good fortune: The current owners, Lace Building Affiliates, who purchased it in 2007, have been granted permission to repurpose it, and they have seriously grand plans.

Seeing Double: Another Hoagie City, This One Intact

hunting park hoagie city

The Hunting Park Hoagie City. Photo: Liz Spikol

One of the most iconic things about the Hoagie City building that collapsed last week–perhaps the only iconic thing about it–was its sign, the one that crashed down in a most dangerous fashion in the demolition video posted here. Something about the lettering and the illustrations struck us as familiar, and that’s because Hoagie City used to be a chain. (It was originally owned by Joe Carangi, father of Gia, the subject of Steve Fried’s Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia.)

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Father’s Day Special: Man Cave Decorations!


Perhaps one of the most mystifying trends in interior design in the last 20 years is the advent of the man cave, that place where men must go to be alone with other men, as though this is a rare pleasure that cannot be enjoyed in any other context. The man cave represents the notion that women don’t drink beer, don’t like sports, don’t play darts or billiards, don’t talk dirty, don’t listen to loud rock ’n’ roll, and don’t get stoned. Who are these women? They’re not from Philly, that’s for sure.

At any rate, the man cave necessitates a very specific aesthetic: beer paraphernalia, sports-related souvenirs, vintage signs and, sometimes, posters of buxom ladies. And there is no better place to outfit a man cave than Craigslist, where it takes just the words in the search bar to call up all kinds of suggestions from fellow spelunkers trying to sell off the last vestiges of their own Neanderthal residences. Here, for your pleasure, are some items that were all posted within the last couple weeks with mention of putting them in a man cave.

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Paging Stephen Starr: Great Restaurant Space Up for Grabs on Independence Mall


You may have read by now that the Dow Chemical Company is putting its historic–yes, historic; it’s listed on the National Register–office building on Independence Mall up for sale once again.

Rohm and Haas built the building in 1965 as its headquarters, and the building designed by Pietro Belluschi and George M. Ewing Co. (now EwingCole) is considered a Modernist masterpiece.

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Speaking of the Divine Lorraine, Eric Blumenfeld Channels ’80s Band Starship