Long before the Apple Store on Walnut Street, there was the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation at 3747 Ridge Avenue. J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly founded the world’s first computer company here in 1947, producing both the BINAC and UNIVAC I models– the first commercial digital computers ever– in their East Falls facility. Now home to the Marketplace at East Falls, efforts are underway to establish a computer museum in part of the building. CLICK HERE for more information.
The SS United States was once the most prestigious ship in the world. Her maiden voyage broke the Transatlantic speed record– 3 days, 10 hours, 40 minutes. Marylin Monroe, John Wayne, Bob Hope, and four U.S. presidents were among her passengers. She was designed by a Philadelphia native, William Francis Gibbs, and her soaring funnels have been a fixture of the Delaware waterfront since 1996, when she docked at Pier 82 in South Philadelphia. To learn more about recent progress in the effort to preserve the ship, CLICK HERE.
Jazz legend John Coltrane purchased this nineteenth-century Strawberry Mansion rowhome (1511 N. 33rd Street) in 1952 and lived here for the next six years. Collaborations with Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk during these years set Coltrane on a path to musical greatness, and his concurrent triumph over substance abuse led to a spiritual awakening which defined the remainder of his career. CLICK HERE for more on one of America’s most original musicians.
In 1957, Mayor Richardson Dilworth demonstrated his commitment to the redevelopment of the city’s then-downtrodden Society Hill neighborhood by commissioning architect G. Edwin Brumbaugh to design his personal residence at 225 S. 6th Street. In contrast to later redevelopment buildings that inserted modernist designs into Society Hill’s historic streetscapes, the Dilworth House is a studied period recreation by Brumbaugh. CLICK HERE for more on recent efforts to prevent demolition of significant portions of this landmark.
In 1947, media mogul Walter Annenberg hired architects Savery, Scheetz and Gilmbur to design one of the first purpose-built television studios in the nation for WFIL-TV at 46th and Market Streets in West Philadelphia. Five years later, architect Abraham Levy expanded the building. In one of the new studios, a local musical variety show named “Bandstand” premiered in 1952, and by 1957, with Dick Clark as host, “American Bandstand” was broadcasting coast to coast. The show was an instant pop sensation, hosting nearly every major rock and roll act of the 1950s and early 1960s before relocating to California in 1964. Today the building houses the Enterprise Center, which hopes to both restore the Bandstand Studio and establish a new music industry training program for local youth. CLICK HERE for more info.
Now undergoing demolition, the Spectrum was once one of the country’s premier sports and entertainment arenas. The Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed structure at Broad and Pattison hosted three decades of 76ers basketball and Flyers hockey, and was the site of countless concerts and shows, including an infamous Pink Floyd concert that inspired the song “Comfortably Numb.” Built in 1968, it is (for now) the oldest surviving part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. CLICK HERE for more on the Spectrum.
Sigma Sound Studios was established by recording engineer Joe Tarsia in 1968 at 212 N. 12th Street. Its house band was M.F.S.B., whose 1974 hit “T.S.O.P (The Sound of Philadelphia)” was the theme song to Soul Train. Most of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s legendary Philadelphia International Records catalog was recorded here, as was David Bowie’s album Young Americans. Considered the birthplace of disco, the studio and its regulars are the subject of THIS DOCUMENTARY by music producer Dimitri from Paris.
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