We are musicians, artists, city workers, architects, engineers, journalists, social workers, professors, business people, and much more. Some of us are retired; some of us still ride the 7:00 am bus to work. We moved here from other countries, other parts of the US, the suburbs, and two blocks away.
We are a strong community, where privacy is respected but deep networks of friendship and support are formed. A host of clubs and activities strengthen these networks, while people look out for each other daily.
Whoever you are, we predict you will find like-minded souls here.
In 1961, two developers broke ground for a 20-story apartment building directly across from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The empty lot where they planned to build had given rise to a Chinese-style pavilion in the 1820s and a trolley turnaround in the early 1900s. This time, they said, they would construct a building that would set a new standard of elegance for apartment living.
With 776 units when it opened in 1963, The Philadelphian brought together the largest number of homes under one roof in Pennsylvania. On the first day it was opened to public view, 5,000 people toured the sample apartments. They entered rooms flooded by natural light from the large windows that formed ribbons of glass on the outside. Designed by architect Samuel Oshiver, a local boy made good, The Philadelphian remains an icon of modern architecture today.
The first tenants could choose among 67 floor plans with walk-in closets and panoramic views. Many of those tenants were single young people. They paid rents that started at $121 a month for an efficiency and ranged to $352 for a three-bedroom apartment. Max Cohen, one of the building’s two developers, had high standards for the building and disapproved of women wearing pants in the lobby.
Over time, the population became older as many tenants stayed for years and other couples and families moved in. A growing list of retail businesses in the building drew people to what The Philadelphia Inquirer described as a “vertical city.”
In 1979, the owners of The Philadelphian announced its conversion from rental apartments to condominiums. The Chicago group handling the conversion told The Inquirer that two-thirds of the renters were buying units in the building.
Many of the features that attracted tenants then remain popular today. The location, five minutes from Fairmount Park and 15 minutes from Center City, has only grown more desirable. The spacious rooms still offer rare value in the condo market, and no other building provides The Philadelphian’s generous array of amenities.
While the basic design remains unchanged, the Philadelphian Owners’ Association devotes significant resources to making sure the building is well maintained and continually modernized. The Philadelphian came to us as the proud legacy of people with vision. We hope to pass it on to another generation who can enjoy living here in their own time.