The Legendary Blue Horizon
1314-16 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia
c. 1873; Carl Berger, 1916 (auditorium)
UPDATE MARCH 2015: The Philadelphia Historical Commission has voted to list the Broad Street facade of the Blue Horizon to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, but voted against designating the auditorium itself. The hotel project that would demolish the auditorium is still seeking funding.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2015: Citing an application submitted and approved (but never paid for or issued) in September 2013, the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections issued a new demolition and construction permit for the Blue Horizon on February 17, 2015. This permit would allow demolition of the Blue Horizon auditorium and construction of a new hotel regardless of whether the Philadelphia Historical Commission approves our pending nominations. However, the developers have yet to close on the property or finalize their financing. The Preservation Alliance has negotiated an interim agreement that will prevent any demolition before the project is fully financed. We continue to pursue Philadelphia Register designation so that, in the event that the current proposal doesn’t move forward, the Historical Commission can review any future plans or proposals for the site.
On February 26, 2015, the Historical Commission’s Committee on Historic Designation voted to recommend designation of only the building exterior, not of the historic auditorium space inside. The Preservation Alliance strongly disagrees with this recommendation, citing the unparalleled historic and social significance of the arena space. The full Philadelphia Historical Commission will meet on March 13th, 9:00 am at 1515 Arch Street, 18th Floor, for a final vote on our nominations. Supporters of saving the Blue Horizon are strongly encouraged to attend this meeting and voice support for designating both the auditorium and the exterior facades to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.
Five years after its untimely closure and four years after plans to convert the site into a boutique hotel were first announced, the Legendary Blue Horizon remains threatened with demolition. One of the most storied venues in the history of boxing, the Blue Horizon hosted fights from 1961 until 2010 in a former Moose Lodge constructed behind three North Broad Street brownstones in 1916. After backtracking on earlier promises to save and restore the Blue Horizon’s 1,500-seat auditorium, developers are now proposing to use public funds to demolish everything but the building’s front facade, replacing “the best place in the world to watch a boxing match” (Ring Magazine, 1999) with a parking garage and new hotel block.
Interest in preserving and reopening the Blue Horizon is strong, either as a boxing venue or as a multi-purpose event space. The Preservation Alliance has submitted a nomination to the Philadelphia Historical Commission for the Blue Horizon and its auditorium to be listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, which would prevent current or future owners from demolishing the building without first proving that reuse is infeasible. The Commission is scheduled to consider our nomination in March 2015.
Resources and Links:
- Philadelphia Register building nomination
- Philadelphia Register interior nomination
- History of the Blue Horizon (phillyboxinghistory.com)
- “Saving face: Commission votes to protect Blue Horizon facade, not interior,” Plan Philly, March 13, 2015
- “Interior designation for Blue Horizon’s historic boxing arena denied,” Hidden City Daily, March 13, 2015
- “Preservation’s weak inside game: From the Boyd to the Blue Horizon,” Plan Philly, March 11, 2015
- “Blue Horizon gets mixed review from panel on historic designation,” Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 27, 2015
- “Preservationists, developer spar over future of famed Blue Horizon boxing arena,” CBS Philly, Feb. 27, 2015
- “Historical commission to decide whether to protect Blue Horizon,” Plan Philly, Feb. 26, 2015
- “Continuance Granted for the Blue Horizon,” Hidden City Daily, Dec. 12, 2014
- “From Blue Horizon to Catholic art: 2014’s slate of historic designations,” PlanPhilly, November 13, 2014
- “What Lies Beyond the Blue Horizon? The Fabled Venue’s Future in Doubt,” Hidden City Daily, September 20, 2014
- “Montco bank building, Legendary Blue Horizon on endangered list,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 31, 2014
- “Pa. preservation group joins effort to save Blue Horizon gym,” KYW Newsradio, January 30, 2014
- “Thrilla in Phila?” Philadelphia Daily News, December 13, 2013
- “A New Horizon,” Temple News, December 3, 2013
- “Preservation means saving what’s inside, not just the shell,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 20, 2013
- “Legendary Blue Horizon boxing venue is set to become a hotel,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 4, 2011
You can support the preservation of the Blue Horizon by signing the following petition, which will be presented to the Philadelphia Historical Commission:
The Blue Horizon is a Philadelphia landmark that deserves historic recognition and protection. I support the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia in their efforts to nominate the building and its auditorium to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places to protect it from an unnecessary and short-sighted demolition. Redevelopment of the property should not destroy the very thing that made it famous in the first place: a 1916 Moose Lodge auditorium that became the best place in the world to watch a fight. Philadelphia and North Broad Street deserve to keep the places and spaces that make our city legendary.
You can also add personalized comments by clicking the “READ THE PETITION” bar below to edit this message.