In one of my many moments of research-induced distraction, I recently stumbled across several tidbits which should prove interesting to Urban Phantasy readers. The first is a map which I had, until now, forgotten all about. It used to be that there were maps around the City Hall/15th Street station downtown, which showed the extent of public underground concourse. The last time I remember seeing one such map I think predates the turn of the millennium, though my memory is often far from perfect.
The post which I found this image in mentions a fact that I had previously been ignorant of, though it makes sense and fills in some gaps in what I know about the Penn Center tunnels.
Edmund Bacon’s concept of a hidden, weather-protected concourse connecting urban office, transportation and retail facilities was innovative at the time and influenced other cities, as well as Philadelphia’s subsequent Market East Redevelopment. Furthermore, the Penn Center complex includes an underground roadway that trucks use to service and supply the buildings. This significantly reduces the number of trucks traveling over and loading/unloading on the streets above. The entrance to this no-outlet road (called Commerce Street) is on 19th Street between Market Street and J.F.K. Boulevard.
My second discovery is a video clip from an unknown program that aired on WHYY several years ago, which took a look at Philadelphia’s underground architecture. This particular video is of some of the subterranean portions of Philadelphia City Hall.
If you have any more information on the program this came from, let me know in the comments. I’ll also post any more information I find on my own, for this looks like it was quite an interesting program.