Lasting Letter


Since 1932, the Philadelphia skyline has been marked by a 28-story art deco tower designed by architect John Torrey Windrim. The building sits on the corner of Broad Street and South Penn Square. 

In 1952 the Philadelphia National Bank (PNB) bought the building and decorated the bell tower on all four sides with 16 foot tall, stainless steel initials which weighed 3,000 pounds each. Until the 1970s, PNB used the sign as a meteorological beacon, lighting the letters in red to indicate a warming trend, or green to predict cooling. Unsurprisingly, it became known as the "PNB Building."

In 2013, the building's new owner—Aion Partners in New York—decided to take the letters down. It took two efforts to get them all down by helicopter. After the first quarter of the letters were down, I spent an afternoon making images which included the skyline. 

In December 2014, I was contacted by 160over90, a Branding Agency which was tasked with creating an art installation in the lobby to preserve the history of the iconic letters, using one of the "B's" as a centerpiece. I was only too happy to provide one of my images for the project.

Although we can't see the letters on the skyline anymore, it makes me very happy to know that a significant piece of Philadelphia architecture has been preserved. It's even better knowing I'm a permanent part of it.