Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Centennial Tower

Perhaps unknowingly attempting to beat Paris to the punch, Philadelphia had planned a tower of our own as part of the Centennial Exposition a decade before the Eiffel Tower would be completed. Our Centennial Tower appeared on the cover of Scientific American two years prior to the fair that would celebrate America's Centennial and introduce the United States, and more specifically Philadelphia as the workhorse of the world.

This rendering featured in Scientific American shows the Centennial Tower compared to the tallest structures of the day, including the Great Pyramids of Giza.

The tower was designed by Clarke, Reeves & Co., owners of the Phoenixville Bridge Works who built the original Girard Avenue Bridge in 1875 and patented the "Phoenix Column" which would ultimately help create the first skyscrapers.

A spiral staircase with four landings would have taken visitors to an observation deck 1000 feet up. In the evening a brilliant light show would have illuminated the grounds of the Centennial Exposition held near Philadelphia's Parkside neighborhood.

At the time this would have been the tallest structure ever built. The Eiffel Tower's spire is just 63 feet taller.

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