Books: Philadelphia’s abandoned power plants
"If it isn't Electric, it isn't Modern." Such was the slogan of the Philadelphia Electric Company, developer of an unprecedented network of massive metropolitan power stations servicing greater Philadelphia at the turn of the twentieth century.
Featuring striking black-and-white photos of Joseph Elliot, the book Palazzos of Power explores the history of these monumental structures that tower over the industrial landscape in Philadelphia that now stand vacant and decaying.
Compiled by Aaron Wunsch, a professor of Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania, Palazzos of Power is the first book to focus on the buildings and machines that made the electrification of America possible.
Under Joseph Elliot's camera, the aging central power stations of the Philadelphia Electric Company look like Metropolis meets Ancient Greece, "ornate temples of stacked brick, soaring arches, and early industrial grit," as reviewed in Curbed magazine.
“I looked at these buildings and thought, on the surface, they’re incredible structures, enormous and beautifully designed,” said Wunsch in Curbed magazine. “They were designed to look like public monuments, which was strange. There’s a weird juxtaposition of civic building and factory floor.”
In the book, Wunsch tells the history of Philadelphia through the images of these early 20th century generators, conceived as industrial landmarks and also as aestethic and public relations assets for the city.
You can preview some photos of Philadelphia's Cathedrals here.