Since 1987, the Philly Skyline has grown in several periods of spurts, none of which will stack up against the current boom we’re experiencing. In just a few years, the additions of the Comcast Innovation & Technology Center, two Cira South towers, SLS International, Mormon tower, and a slew of others will go a long way toward making any gentleman’s agreements a trivial relic.
But before One Liberty Place’s spire broke through William Penn’s glass
hat ceiling, the game for big time developers often meant getting as close to the actual Quaker height without going over—The Height Is Right. In 1974, 1818 Market Street opened as the tallest of the second-tallest buildings of the William Penn era, at exactly 500′.
Designed by Ewing Cole Cherry Brott (now EwingCole, the longtime Philly-based firm responsible for the designs of Citizens Bank Park, Camden’s Cooper University Hospital, and MetLife Stadium, which just hosted the Northeast’s first Super Bowl), 1818 opened as a plain, 40-story, proto-brutalist tower whose unpolished concrete was The Thing. Yellowed late-70s/early-80s postcards of the flat-top Philly Skyline really accentuate this feature. It’s still the tallest reinforced concrete building in the city.
When One Liberty Place ushered in the polished flare of the 80s, bringing with it its sibling Two Liberty, Mellon Bank Center, the Blue Cross Tower, the Commerce Square twin towers, and the Bell Atlantic Tower, 1818 cleaned up its act with a coat of white paint.
Last year, the 160-year-old Beneficial Bank signed a lease in the building to move its headquarters there, relocating from Independence Square to 1818 Market, leaping past the magnificent-but-empty giant building at 12th & Chestnut Horace Trumbauer designed for the same bank in 1916—which has been empty since 2001. As part of the lease agreement, 1818 has been renamed the really-catchy 1818 Beneficial Bank Place.
In addition to Beneficial, Booz Allen Hamilton’s Philadelphia operations, the American College of Radiology, Merrill Lynch, and Philadelphia magazine keep offices in 1818 Market. The following bird’s eye phone pics were taken from Philly Mag’s perch. Shame I didn’t cover up the office glare in the shot of the Blue Cross tower, innit?