Philly 2012, Part 1: Buildings

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Map)

Summer 2012.


I left on a Friday afternoon after working a 1/2 day. Thankfully in the summer up here, we have a seasonal airline which flies at a more convenient time than 530am.

Going through Toronto, then through Cincinnati's airport for the first time, I was amused as I explored that airport & saw a guy wearing a No Limit Soldiers jacket he smuggled in from the 1990s. Creeping around and trying to stealthily take a picture of that dude would then take up most of the hour I had in Cincy. Soon enough I was on my flight to Philadelphia, as ominous clouds darkened the skies behind Cincy while we crossed the Ohio River to fly over Kentucky.

Thankfully Arntz picked me up at the airport on this trip, so I wasn't left wandering around Temple University or dragging my luggage across uneven sidewalks in suburban Feasterville-Trevose like last time (although that was good fun, once). We went back through the city and dropped off our friend, before retreating to the Red Roof Inn.

We would meet up with Captain & Moss at the motel, exchanging pleasantries over Original Coors while trying to cool off during the humid night.

With early plans the next morning, not too many Original Coors were consumed.

We would find ourselves driving out of town at a decent hour the next morning, heading towards a local asylum/state hospital. Never having explored with this particular Philly dude, I was amused as Arntz & I waited, then said Philly dude pulled up in an Intrepid.

It was time to ride to the hospital in style!

This place was a group of a dozen-or-so buildings, which we saw a majority from the outside before making our way inside.

The first building was probably the most memorable, as the basement had these child restraining chairs. The Captain made a good point of the fact of how sad it was that they needed such devices for such small people.

In another building, there was a collection of various animal murals.

I spent all too much time photographing the eagle murals.

The majority of the buildings were in great shape, but there was the odd room in horrible condition.

Altogether, it was a very thorough and enjoyable exploration of 5 or 6 buildings & I only remember a handful of the rooms being in this shape.

The cafeteria.

Thing were wrapping up as we turned a corner, walked through a corridor & into a room full of foam blocks! There was even a chess one!

If Arntz wasn't such a smart cookie, I would have certainly challenged him to a game.

Standing around the foam blocks, we had now spent about 5 hours inside & the humidex had to be in the 100°s. I certainly wasn't used to this weather, but I didn't want to hold people back, so I had brought about 3L of water, 2L of Powerade & a bunch of food. Thankfully, just as I was feeling finished, so was everyone else.

I thanked my Philly friend profusely as this was a great start to the morning. Captain & Moss went back to the motel to shower & relax, but Arntz & I went into the city proper to meet up with others.

I found Arntz driving down some roads which I recognized, but then we drove under an elevated railway which I didn't recognize at all. I really enjoyed seeing this new side of Philly.

Our friend Goddog had found a new place for us & sent us the invite. We pulled up outside a street of rowhouses, made our way down a rail line, then cut down a bank into some tall grasses towards a brick building which didn't look like much from the outside.

I'm never going to complain about anything someone invites me to, but this building turned out to actually be really cool.

It was built in the 1890s and the age showed (it was a leather tannery).

I was happy to have some beers and see old friends, but I also had to walk around and explore this aged, redbrick beauty of a building.

Eventually someone brought up the fact that a doozy of a storm was coming towards Philly, so we decided to get out of this decrepit building, as we didn't want to find ourselves below a holey roof in high winds.

We drove across the city towards another place we had in mind. It was Yrvelouria, Arntz & I in the car as we stopped at a red light & then someone at the bus stop yelled "go back to Bawstin!!!" as we made our right turn...

"Do you have front license plates, or did he just see three white dudes in a Volvo and assume we were from Massachusetts?" Yrvelouria quickly, humourously inquired.

We were all amused, although unfortunately they did see the front plates.

After that we went to one of those liquor stores where everything is behind safety glass & you stand there and order items by pointing. As Arntz paid for his 40, I laughed at all the graffiti lining the doorway...because really, what are they going to do? Come out from behind their safety glass to apprehend your tagging self?

We met up for the final spot of the night, moving to a top floor corner to drink more 40s and observe the coming storm.

The storm was your standard late thunderstorm you get with humid days. There was a hole smashed out of the east wall & I stood with the winds & the rain, guzzling my 211.

This pastry factory was really neat though, so it didn't take me very long to wander off. It seemed like the building was built as a series of additions, because of the strange layout of the spaces and corridors. I didn't wander off very far, yet I still found myself in several strange spaces.

Later on in the night, someone asked if I wanted to see the Law Abiding Citizen room, and even with people who had been here several times, it was still hard to find the specific room.

The above shot shows the room where Gerard Butler dismembers that dude in said movie. The mirror you see in the picture is the movie prop from that scene.

Wandering back to the group, we eventually moved outside and stood before the Philly skyline. All day I knew I should have bought more water, but soon it became quite evident.

Sometime around midnight we would leave and I convinced Arntz & Yrvelouria to hit some pub on our way home. Pints & shots were procured, which I surely didn't need, but hopefully I didn't annoy them or keep them up (very much) longer than they wanted.

The next morning I was back to 100% after a breakfast visit to Wawa for a delicious pepperoni and scrambled egg hoagie.

We were on our way early this morning, going back to North Philly to get that school I wanted to get with Chad back in 2007.

Thomas Edison High School was such a priority to me because firstly, I like eventually succeeding at buildings where I fail, but secondly and more importantly, because I later learned this was Teddy Pendergrass' high school!

Clooooooose the door! Looks like another Love T.K.O.!

(Mr. Pendergrass attended this school and performed in the Edison Mastersingers during his time; although he dropped out in Grade 11 to pursue his musical career.)

So even though Edison had suffered a substantial fire, I still lobbied Arntz & Yrvelouria to add it to the itinerary.

The suckiest part of the fire in regards to our meagre lives, was that it meant we wouldn't be able to chill up with the rooftop stone gargoyles like so many before us.

Edison was demolished in 2013 - with this fire surely playing a factor in the decision - which is much more sucky in the grand scheme of things.

Thomas Edison High School was built in 1903 as the Northeast Manual Training School. They added that auditorium in 1916 and other areas in the 1930s. Whereas nothing will ever compare to what was left behind at Cass Tech in Detroit, you could tell this school was of a similar ilk in terms of construction, craftsmanship and its place as a pillar high school in a major American city.

I pushed the limits a bit, but there were parts where the fire stopped me in my tracks.

I was really happy with the amount of time my friends committed to this place, seeing as it was a burnt-out school.

Edison was torn down in 2013, to be replaced by a strip mall with a Burger King, Save-a-Lot and Family Dollar.

After Edison, we went to a nearby skyscraper we knew about, especially since Yrvelouria had been there only yesterday.

Thankfully he didn't mind going again & I was really impressed. I never paid this building much attention, but it was a great lunchtime snack.

Yrvelouria would depart to meet up with his friend & catch his flight home.

Arntz & I moved all of three blocks over to another building we saw, but knew nothing about.

The best part of this building was the view. We could see the skyscraper that we were just inside, not far off in the distance.

It was just a little empty inside, as it has been cleared out in anticipation of a possible renovation.

This was originally the Tioga Trust Bank Company Building, built in 1929.

Anyway, we relaxed on the roof for a while, content with a slow portion to this busy weekend. Eventually we would leave & walk back to the Volvo, being greeted along the way by a woman on her porch asking "how are you today, my brothers?" Which was very sweet & sincere.

We met up with Shadowbat after this & went to a northwest Philly warehouse. The warehouse had some neat patterns & light, but overall, it was awfully empty.

(I have to give it points for finally being able to check off 'distribution center' from the building list though.)

I was done after about 20 minutes, so I sat there and wondered how many hard drives Shadowbat owns; as he put on one of the most thorough explorations/documentations I've ever seen.

Shadowbat would get the last laugh though, as I laid down outside waiting for him to finish, and he came within inches of hitting me in the face with a grimy, wet t-shirt he found and threw off of the roof.

We went behind the building to a graffiti-covered highway overpass afterwards; which I very much enjoyed as I followed a path into the woods; finding myself on a strange path in SE Pennsylvania (obscurity points, yes!)

By this point though, we were very hungry & overly ready for some cheesesteaks. We put out an APB on a local cheesesteak joint & Shadows radioed in with Pine Street Pizzer, where as Arntzville so eloquently put it, "I got something retahded like ravioli."

We finished the exploring off with a visit to a local abandoned brewery, where we had a fantastic sunset as we wearily sat atop the roof.

After the sun dipped below the horizon, Shadowbat was thanked, then Arntz & I went back to the Red Roof Inn. Arntz would be heading west to Shenendoah National Park tomorrow, while I had one Philly day remaining to explore the more touristy things on my own...

Continue to Part 2!


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1 - Edison/Fareira High School - School History

2 - Hidden City Philadelphia - Final Curtain For The Former Edison High

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