The sleek glass-sheathed Annenberg School building that rose up on campus in 1962 gave its students a fittingly modern home from which to conduct their communications research. If its design was future-focused, so was its construction, which left the past literally in the dust, taking out an entire city block. As the 1959 photo at left shows, pre-Annenberg the 200 block of South McAlpin Street (looking north toward Walnut Street from 36th and Locust) was a cobblestoned stretch of humble brick, clapboard and stucco rowhomes. Penn already had a presence on the street. At the center of the photo is the whitewashed stucco exterior of the Faculty Club, and immediately to its left, behind a row of hedges at 212 South McAlpin, is the Delta Delta Delta sorority house. Across the street was the Alpha Mu Pi Omega medical fraternity house. When the photograph on the right was taken, about three years later, the wrecking ball had done its job, the new Annenberg School building had been completed and the 200 block of McAlpin Street was history. As the cars in the foreground attest, at this point in Penn’s history, Locust Street had yet to be been converted to the tree-lined pedestrian walkway of today. That process happened in stages from 1959 to 1971.
For more on this and other notable moments in Penn’s history, visit the University Archives web site at www.archives.upenn.edu.
Originally published on February 15, 2007