Pulse: Philadelphicon: One Liberty Place

Twenty years ago, Philadelphia was a drab city of dirty streets and stubby buildings. But in the summer of 1987, there emerged from the ground at 1650 Market a head-turning structure the likes of which we had never seen. Willard Rouse’s masterpiece tends to be celebrated, legitimately, for what it symbolized — a ballsy break from our no-taller-than-Billy-Penn past, a bold step into a future that, though we didn’t know it at the time, would eventually bring us sidewalk cafés and Stephen Starr, hipsters and wi-fi, and everything else that marks modern Philadelphia as a good place to be. But on this, its 20th birthday (and even though it just lost to the Comcast tower its title of tallest kid in the class), let’s take a moment to look at One Liberty Place: an exquisite piece of architecture, a cobalt-blue gem reflecting brilliantly on the city it helped change.