Images from the Saalbach Collection The Closing of the 200 block of South McAlpin Street and Construction of the Annenberg School of Communications
200 block of South McAlpin Street, 1959. View toward north, with 3625 Walnut Street in the background, at center right. At the center of the photograph is the three-story, whitewashed stone exterior of the Faculty Club, at 204-210 South McAlpin. Immediately to its left, behind a row of hedges at 212 South McAlpin, is the Delta Delta Delta sorority house. Just visible on the right margin is the doorway of the Alpha Mu Pi Omega medical fraternity house at 215 South McAlpin.
East side of 200 block of South McAlpin Street, 1960, showing land recently cleared on McAlpin Street and demolition-in-progress on the south side of 3600 Walnut Street. In the background are the buildings on the north side of Walnut Street, the three-story 3625 Walnut Street at the extreme left margin and the one-story, commercial garages at 3613-23 Walnut at center left.
East side of 200 block of South McAlpin Street, 1960, with demolition-in-progress continuing on the south side of 3600 Walnut Street. This view, however, is toward northeast and in the background is the new, four-story Faculty Club at the southwest corner of 36th and Walnut Streets. Planning for a modern and greatly enlarged Faculty Club was initiated in November 1954, but construction did not begin until late February 1958. The cornerstone was laid at ceremonies held on 26 May 1958 and a reception to mark the building’s opening was held exactly one year later, 26 May 1959.
West side of 200 block of South McAlpin Street, 1961, showing the 3600 block of Locust Street in the foreground, the new Delta Phi fraternity house at 3627 Locust Street at the left margin, and the Annenberg School under construction in the background. Delta Phi (St. Elmo), established in 1849, is the University’s oldest fraternity. It had owned a house at 3453 Woodland Avenue, but the University acquired that property for the construction of the new Van Pelt Library and offered the site at 3625-29 Locust Street as suitable for relocation. The cornerstone of the new building (just above the white roof of the parked car at the left margin) reads “Delta Phi 1849/1959.”
West side of 200 block of South McAlpin Street, 1961, showing the 3600 block of Locust Street in the foreground, the new Delta Phi fraternity house at 3627 Locust Street at the left margin, and the Annenberg School under construction in the background. Delta Phi (St. Elmo), established in 1849, is the University’s oldest fraternity. It had owned a house at 3453 Woodland Avenue, but the University acquired that property for the construction of the new Van Pelt Library and offered the site at 3625-29 Locust Street as suitable for relocation.
Locust Street, from 36th to 40th Streets, was closed in stages between 1959 and 1971 and gradually converted to the tree-lined, pedestrian walkway of today. The 25th Reunion Gift of the Class of 1938 enabled the University to construct Locust Walk between 36th and 37th Streets in 1964. George E. Patton was the landscape architect.
The first block of Locust Walk was formally dedicated in October 1964. The photograph taken either at that time or in the next year, documents the extraordinary changes to McAlpin Street which took place in just five years time. Note that the walkway from the new Annenberg School is located slightly to the west of the old McAlpin Street roadbed. The architect’s design intentionally created a north to south symmetrical axis from the new Annenberg School to the entrance to Dietrich Hall of the Wharton School. The intersection pictured here thereby became the visual centerpiece of the block bounded by 36th, Spruce, 37th and Walnut Streets.
Not until 1983, however, was the University able to landscape the block of Locust Walk between 37th and 38th Streets, when gifts from the Classes of 1933, 1957, 1958, and 1959 finally made the project possible.
Documentation from the Printed Record: "Information for Owners and Residents: University Redevelopment Area"
This twelve-page booklet, from Francis J. Lammer, Executive Director, Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia, was published in the first months of 1960 “to answer questions about the plans for construction of a School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania.” (UPF 8.5 News Bureau, Box S25, FF 12)
“The University Redevelopment Area, generally bounded by Market, 40th, 32nd and the Schuylkill River, was approved by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission as a redevelopment area in 1948. Within this area is a block recently designated for institutional use and is the site for The Annenberg School of Communications of the University of Pennsylvania.
“The proposed School is the fourth of a series of improvement programs in the University area in which the Redevelopment Authority has played a part. The others have been Dietrich Hall, home of the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, the Physical Sciences building (later renamed David Rittenhouse Laboratories) and the Women’s Residence Halls, now under construction.
“The School of Communications will be located within the rectangle bounded by 36th, Locust, 37th and Walnut Streets. Plans for improving this block will get underway in the summer of 1960. Recently, property owners met with University and Redevelopment Authority officials, at which time the plans for the area were outlined by Francis J. Lammer, Executive Director of the Redevelopment Authority.
“City Council conducted its hearing on the Authority’s plan and proposal on December 1, 1959 and gave its approval on December 17, 1959. The ordinance was signed by the Mayor on December 24, 1959.
“All properties are expected to be vacated by May 1960.”
The booklet lists the street addresses of the 30 properties (2.24 acres total) to be acquired:
- Walnut Street — 3600-04 (west side 36th Street), 3606, 3608, 3610, 3612, 3614, 3616 (east side McAlpin), and 3618-26 (west side McAlpin)
- Locust Street — 3609, 3611, 3613, 3615-17, 3619-21 (east side McAlpin), 3623-25-27-29 (west side McAlpin), and 3631-33
- South 36th Street — 206 (adjacent to the south side of Hillel
- East side, South McAlpin Street — 205, 207, 209, 211, 213, 215, and rear property 211-13
- West side, South McAlpin Street — 204-10, 212, 214, 216, and 218