Topping Out

From the sidewalk on Broad Street during the Mummers Parade, I noticed a tree at the top of a building under construction. I took a picture, partly because I found it so strange and partly as a reminder to myself to look it up when I got home. It turns out that topping a construction site of with a tree is a tradition which signals that, even though the construction is not complete, the building has reached its maximum height.

According to this site, “topping out” has its roots in the development of human shelter, with the tree traditionally being placed at the top of a building “so that the tree’s spirit would not be rendered homeless”. (This page notes that the tree is called a “Christmas tree”.)

The flag is, of course, a patriotic symbol and also “signifies the united effort to achieve a common goal, and a proud representation of the history that stands behind the Ironworkers”. The flag at half mast was for Gerald Ford (I assume).

Sometimes the beam is signed, and a closer look at the beam I photographed shows a couple of signatures by the flag (enlarged below) and one by the tree.

Now if only I could tell you what building I found this on. It was on Broad Street, just south of the Kimmel Center. Anyone know?

Topping Out

Topping Out



Location:     Broad Street, Center City
Camera:     Canon EOS 350D Digital Rebel XT, Sigma 55-200mm f/4-5.6
EXIF:     Aperture Priority, Pattern Metering, EV 0, 1/400 sec, F/5.6, ISO-100, 123 mm (197 mm equivalent)

Speaking of construction, Matt Johnson at Phillyist has some amazing birds-eye view photos from the 43rd floor of the Comcast Center, showing both its current state of construction and views of the city. They are really fantastic. If you want to see more, check out his Comcast Center construction documentation page.


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3 Comments so far

  1. Sherri W. (unregistered) on January 17th, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

    Isn’t that Symphony House, yet another of the new luxury condo buildings sprouting like a forest in that neighborhood?


  2. Joe (unregistered) on January 17th, 2007 @ 4:44 pm

    Hi,
    The number 401 in the photo refers to Local 401, which is the Iron Workers union of Philadelphia.


  3. Tamara (unregistered) on January 17th, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

    Sherri, you could be right. I don’t know, so I will take your word for it.

    Joe, thanks for explaining the “401”!



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