Abandoned Philly: 10 of the city’s most distinctive empty buildings

Philadelphia may be in the midst of a well publicized renaissance, but walk just a few blocks even in Center City and you’re bound to spot abandoned buildings.

The Buery Building at 3701 N. Broad Street.

The Buery Building at 3701 N. Broad Street.

Instagram via @AllysonAtRandom

Philadelphia may be in the midst of a well publicized renaissance, but walk just a few blocks even in Center City and you’re bound to spot abandoned buildings.

Some of them don’t look like they’re filling up any time soon. Others have been bought by developers, and the process of redevelopment has begun. But the one thing they have in common is that they all stand out. Here are 10 of Philadelphia’s best known empty buildings.

Liberty Title & Trust Building, Broad and Arch streets

Scheduled redevelopment: 2016

Liberty Title and Trust Building
Google Street View

You can’t miss this building staring up North Broad Street from City Hall. It’s been there on the corner of Broad and Arch streets since 1929. The Philadelphia Water Department was last there in the 90s. It’s slated to be repurposed into a hotel.

Old West Philadelphia High School

No redevelopment plans scheduled

Old West Philadelphia High School
Google Screenshot

West Philadelphia High School has a new building, but the old one still stands, deserted. Sales for it have long been discussed but never gone through.

The Hale Building, 1326 Chestnut Street

No redevelopment plans scheduled

Hale Building
Google Screenshot

It looks like a piece of an old castle. This seven-story building, designed by the same guy who designed the Divine Lorraine, has been around since the late 1800s. New owners purchased it last year, and they’re talking about turning it into an office space.

The Umbrella Factory, 5th and Master streets

No redevelopment plans scheduled

Umbrella Factory
Google Maps Screenshot

Even as Fishtown and parts of South Kensington have developed the last several years, few parts of those neighborhoods can match the imposing sight of the Umbrella Factory. It stands eight stories tall and is about a block wide. New owners purchased it last year. Nothing concrete has been decided for its future.

Rittenhouse Coffee Shop, 1904 Sansom Street

No redevelopment plans scheduled

The Rittenhouse Coffee Shop is perhaps the most hipster-looking thing in Philadelphia and really seems like it would be open. But it’s not. It hasn’t been for years. Apparently it was last a soul food restaurant in the ’90s. The owners of building talked of demolishing it last November, but they now seem primed to keep it around.

The Buery Building, 3701 N. Broad Street

No redevelopment plans scheduled

It’s like the Divine Lorraine, just a little farther north and without the cult following. The Buery Building is 14 stories tall and had pretty sketchy ownership and was even put up for sheriff’s sale in 2014.

Transatlantic Building, 420 Fairmount Avenue

Scheduled redevelopment: Unknown but construction has begun

Transatlantic Building
Google Maps Screenshot

The Transatlantic Building is just a few blocks from the main strip of Northern Liberties and as of a couple months ago had been slated for redevelopment in a project that will include multiple homes. Some smaller buildings around it have been demolished, but the Transatlantic Building will remain.

Willow Steam Plant, 9th and Callowhill

No redevelopment plans scheduled

Really contributes to the Eraserhood feel. No legitimate talks about redevelopment have taken place for this structure in years.

The old Inquirer Building, 400 N. Broad Street

Scheduled redevelopment: Construction to begin in 2016

Inquirer Building real
Flickr via James J. Kelly

The Inquirer moved out of here in 2011. Bart Blatstein owned the building and originally wanted to turn it into a new casino. That didn’t happen, but last year he announced plans for turning the building into a hotel.

Divine Lorraine, 699 N. Broad Street

Scheduled redevelopment: 2017

Everyone’s favorite. If developer Eric Blumenfeld continues with his project, it won’t be abandoned for much longer.

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