The Legendary Blue Horizon

Photo: G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia™

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1314-16 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia
c. 1873; Carl Berger, 1916 (auditorium)

Significance: For nearly fifty years, the Legendary Blue Horizon hosted boxing matches in a former Loyal Order of Moose auditorium built in 1916 behind a row of Civil War-era brownstones. The crown jewel in Philadelphia’s once-extensive arena circuit, “The Blue” was celebrated for its unpolished and intimate atmosphere, gaining a national reputation as a boxing mecca. It was named the best boxing venue in the world by Ring Magazine in 1999. Its comprehensive 2004 restoration received a Grand Jury Achievement Award from the Preservation Alliance.
Threat: The Blue Horizon abruptly closed in 2010. A hotel proposal announced in 2011 by Mosaic Development and Orens Brothers was initially lauded by city officials for its plans to preserve the recently-restored auditorium as a hotel ballroom and event space. However, in June 2013 the developers revealed new plans that would demolish the entire rear of the structure, preserving only the Broad Street facades of the original 1865 brownstones. In the place of the auditorium, a parking garage and new hotel construction are now proposed. The plan requires over $6 million in public financing. The building is not listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, so the Philadelphia Historical Commission currently has no authority to prevent its demolition.

Recommendations: The viability of a hotel at this location and on this site is questionable, and the plan’s dependence on public funds is wholly inappropriate considering the proposed destruction of a major cultural asset on North Broad Street. The City of Philadelphia, which has been postponing a pending sheriff’s sale in order to facilitate the hotel project, should instead be actively encouraging rehabilitation proposals which preserve and reuse the auditorium.

Media coverage of the Legendary Blue Horizon:

 

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