Photographs & History

Photographs and History

Five Years Past: The Loss of a Philadelphia Landmark

Its been almost five years since the last remains of the Philadelphia Civic Auditorium were torn down to make way for the now complete Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania Hospital System. Completed in 1931 the Art Deco Auditorium graced Civic Center Boulevard in West Philadelphia as part of a complex of buildings that began with the National Export Exhibition in 1899. There were two important buildings on the site. The Commercial Museum, built in 1899, was one of the original exposition buildings and The Municipal Auditorium (Convention Hall), built in 1931, by Philip H. Johnson.

This is what the site looked like when I began the documentation. The East side (left) housed the stage and mechanical support, while the West side (right) housed the Public Receiving areas, concessions, and several smaller private rooms and a Ballroom.

This is what the site looked like when I began the documentation. The East side (left) housed the stage and mechanical support, while the West side (right) housed the Public Receiving areas, concessions, and several smaller private rooms and a Ballroom.

During the Demolition I worked with permission from Keating Corporation and Mazzocchi Demolition to Document the the remaining interior and exteriors of the massive structure. They were very gracious in helping with many photographs, providing insight on the structure, unlimited access to their employees and the work site. During the three month time span I spent there I got know every passable inch of the building and made well over 100 photographs of the site from about mid demolition to the final removal of the of the East end of the building which was very heavy and supported the massive stage and support infrastructure, water chillers, pipe organs, and mechanical equipment. It was an incredible opportunity for which I will be grateful for the rest of my career. From this building spurred the Relic Project, documenting Historic Interiors of the Philadelphia area while "In transition", some being demolished, others being saved and given new purpose.

Below are images from the first month, showing the overall site and some of the first images I made in and around the building during April of 2005

South Wall from Auditorium Floor: This was my first image I made on the site. Later that evening, under darkness the last remaining roof trusses to the upper right were pulled down by several excavators and carefully planned cuts in the steel superstructure supporting the North side of the truss.

South Wall from Auditorium Floor: This was my first image I made on the site. Later that evening, under darkness the last remaining roof trusses to the upper right were pulled down by several excavators and carefully planned cuts in the steel superstructure supporting the North side of the truss.

Rear Staircase, Stage access and Support Area: This area served as an access to both the mechanical facilities to raise and lower the main stage and orchestra pit and also the off stage areas to the North on the second floor.

Rear Staircase, Stage access and Support Area: This area served as an access to both the mechanical facilities to raise and lower the main stage and orchestra pit and also the off stage areas to the North on the second floor.

Concession Area, East End, South Side.

Concession Area, East End, South Side.