Exterior tower, U.S. Custom House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


The U.S. Custom House in Philadelphia, a federal building project of the Depression era, was begun in December 1932. It is distinguished by richness of materials, quality of design, and by an interior mural program by a major local artist, Brandywine School artist George Harding. Ritter & Shay, one of the most prominent architectural firms in Philadelphia, gave the new building classical details on the broad, low base, which is highly responsive to the surrounding Georgian and Federal architecture, and a 300-foot tall tower made of white high-relief terra cotta with decorative side grilles and handsome limestone eagles. The tower is topped by an octagonal lantern modeled on ancient lighthouses like the Pharos of Alexandria.


Carol M. Highsmith


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Second and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA


Highsmith, Carol M. (American photographer, born 1946); Ritter and Shay, Architects, “Exterior tower, U.S. Custom House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” Classicizing Philadelphia, accessed December 18, 2018, http://classicizingphiladelphia.org/items/show/459.