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The North American: 1904

The North American: 1904

Philadelphia circa 1904. "The North American and Real Estate Trust buildings." Plus a glimpse of Philadelphia City Hall. 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.


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The building with the statue is related to the Dundas-Lippincott House, which was on Walnut at Broad Street. The left part are the greenhouses. The other part is likely a carriage house which occupied that corner. The mansion and its outbuildings were torn down before 1928 when the current Philadelphia Trust Company Building was built.

When Billy P turned his back

I don't know if this photo depicts Billy Penn in his "original" position or his later one. Philadelphia legend has it that he once faced toward Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium), but the Phillies and Athletics were so bad he turned his back on the stadium and has faced that way ever since.

Private exhibition?

What about a sculpture at a yard at the lower-right? I wonder what's the building the yard belongs to? It doesn't look like a living home.

Folks in windows

And following the grand Shorpy tradition, I see at least 2 people in the windows of the North American building.

I walk past these buildings every day, so it's really neat to see them from so long ago. And the ones that didn't make it to this point in time.


Water wagon

Presumably filled up at that hydrant on the corner for its next circuit.

Union League

The building in the lower left is the Union League. It's one of the most beautiful buildings still standing in Philadelphia today.

Billy Penn

In the background is a view of a few of the 250 or so works by Alexander Calder (that's Alexander Milne Calder, the father of the sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder and grandfather of the sculptor Alexander "Sandy" Calder of more recent fame) that adorn Philly's City Hall. The senior Calder's architectural sculpture adorns the building and his 37' stature of Wm Penn stands at its top.

Fine View from the Roof

Carpentry and Building, 1900.

When completed, in the course of a few months, the 20-story structure, known as the North American Building, will rank as the tallest structure in the city of Philadelphia. It is located at the corner of Broad and Samson streets, and is of the modern steel skeleton frame construction. An interesting feature of the work of erection, and one to which reference has been made in connection with some of the towering office buildings in New York, Chicago and Pittsburgh, is the carrying forward of the masonry at the upper stories before completing it at the lower portion of the building. In this case the exterior stone work was commenced at the tenth floor and carried upward, while the lower stories were still unenclosed. The appearance of the structure while this work was in progress was the source of much curiosity on the part of those who had never before seen a modern sky scraper constructed.

The United States, Handbook for Travelers, Karl Baedeker, 1904.

[A]djoining the Real Estate Trust Co., is the North American Building, named after the newspaper which occupies the upper five floors (fine view from the roof; free pass obtained on the 16th floor).

Dry spot

The block that is permanently shaded by both buildings has pavement covered in slush, except for one dry parking space. Steam leak?

[That's street-cleaning water. The dry spot would be where a wagon or car was parked. -Dave ]


Interesting, there's a number, 1539, reversed on the window of the shed-like structure at the lower right of this photo. Wonder why?

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