Saturday, May 3, 2008


US cities are famous because of their amazing skylines. New York is by far the most familiar: skyscrapers in Midtown and Downtown Manhattan, with a huge park on one side and water on the other side. Cities like Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas en Seattle all have their own unique skyline; whenever a movie or TV show is recorded in a city, it usually starts with an overview of the skyline.

Philadelphia’s skyline started back in 1901 when the City Hall was finished, with a statue of Pennsylvania’s founder William Penn on top of it. The completion of the City Hall started a gentlemen’s agreement: no building in Philadelphia should ever be higher than the shoes of William Penn´s statue, or 548 feet.

City Hall was the tallest building in the US till 1909, and the gentlemen´s agreement was intact until the 1980s. By then, this agreement was becoming less important than business space in the city, and Philly needed to compete against other cities. That´s when Liberty 1 and 2 were build: two skyscrapers, based on the Empire State Building, with heights of 945 feet and 848 feet. Some people believe that building these skyscrapers released a curse for Philadelphia´s sport teams: the Flyers, Phillies, Eagles and 76´ers had had some great years, however this completely changed when Liberty 1 was build!!

Years later, the Mellon Bank Center (792 feet) was build, also with a pyramid-like top. Until last year, these buildings were the skyline of Philadelphia, but last year the Comcast building beat all of them with 975 feet. During my daily drive back from work, it is still impressive to drive towards a skyline!

Here are some pictures of Philly´s skyline (nope – I didn´t make all of them):

The skyline in 1901:

William Penn's statue:

City Hall:

From left to right: Liberty 2, Liberty 1, Mellon Bank Center, City Hall

Liberty 1, with Liberty 2 in the background:

Philly's current skyline with the Comcast building: