One side benefit of the construction of the massive retail-and-residential East Market project is that it has opened up views (temporarily, anyway) of the tightly packed commercial blocks between 11th and 12th Streets. For the first time in decades, you can clearly make out the colorful terra-cotta details on 15 S. 11th St., once a flagship location for the Horn & Hardart restaurant chain.
Before middle-class Americans started dropping wads of money on cars, they used their disposable income to buy pianos. A sign of status and culture, a piano was often a family's most expensive and prized possession. By 1890, the United States was the world's largest manufacturer of the instruments, exporting them far and wide.
At the north end of Corinthian Avenue stands the most Parthenonlike of Philadelphia's many Parthenon-inspired buildings: Girard College's Founder's Hall. The Greek Revival temple, designed by Thomas U. Walter, is actually bigger than the Athens original, with massive fluted columns that rise 65 feet and that are topped with tiers of vines and flowers that form the architectural capitals (Corinthian, of course).
You don't need to visit France to enjoy a good château. Just wander over to Chestnut Street, where the nine-story Crozer Building lords over the 1400 block. Unlike the aristocratic French homes, this is a vertical château, and it was created for a burgeoning American commercial district.
All things being equal, Frederick Steiner probably would have stayed in Austin as dean of the University of Texas' prestigious architecture program. But last week, he announced he was leaving to take the identical job at the University of Pennsylvania's somewhat less-stellar design school.
Inga Saffron, The Inquirer's architecture critic, writes about architecture, design and planning issues. She was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism. Her popular column, "Changing Skyline", has been appearing on Fridays in the paper’s Home & Design section since 1999. In 2012, she completed a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.