Preservation Magazine, Spring 2017

Philadelphia's Historic Jewelers Row Threatened By New Development

photo by: David Zanzinger

In each Transitions section of Preservation magazine, we highlight places of local and national importance that have recently been restored, are currently threatened, have been saved from demolition or neglect, or have been lost. Here's one from Spring 2017.

Philadelphia’s Jewelers Row, considered to be the oldest diamond district in the country, has housed jewelry merchants since the late 19th century, and many of the extant buildings on the row date from that time.

In August of 2016, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Toll Brothers development company planned to demolish five properties on Jewelers Row to make way for a 16-story residential structure. The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia sprang into action, encouraging Philadelphians to sign a petition highlighting opposition to the development, which it called an “outrageous and destructive land grab.” Local merchants and preservationists also filed appeals with the city against the demolition permits, and the Preservation Alliance nominated two of the buildings for historic designation.

In December 2016, Toll Brothers announced plans to grow the condo tower from 16 stories to 29 stories, prompting a statement from Mayor Jim Kenney that called the decision “deeply disturbing.” As of press time, both the buildings’ historic designations and Toll Brothers’ demolition permits were pending.

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.

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