Hidden Treasure Hunt: Strange fruit

Given how long winter hung around this year, it seems to us a bit early for trees around here to be sporting fruit. Yet we managed to find one in our travels recently. Those orbs look appetizing to us, but we can’t quite place them in the plant kingdom. Maybe they’re not fruit at all, but just a clever illusion? Why don’t you tell us where we ran across this unusual specimen, and whether or not that’s fruit, edible or otherwise?

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Answer next week.

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Last week’s Hidden Treasure Hunt answer: That paper box factory is located at Fifth and Brown streets in Northern Liberties. It’s been recycled into loft apartments and is now known as Liberties Lofts.

Hidden Treasure Hunt: 100% recycled cardboard

“The greeenest building one can build,” say some eco-conscious types, “is the one that’s already there.” Which means we in Philly already have a leg up in the green-city race thanks to all the recycled warehouses, factories, and offices that now house residents – or sometimes even new factories and offices. And when you consider that paper is up there with steel as the most widely and easily recycled material, it seems to us only doubly appropriate that this structure got recycled. Where is it located, and what goes on in it now?

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Answer next week.

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Last week’s Hidden Treasure Hunt answer: We’re pleased that the owner of the former city Fire Station No. 10 in the 700 block of Tasker Street in Dickinson Narrows read our feature and recognized the structure he recently purchased. Now, would he please check his email? We’d love to take him up on his offer to let us look inside and see how it’s being rehabbed now.

Hidden Treasure Hunt: City surplus

There’s much in the news now about how the School District of Philadelphia is disposing of school buildings it no longer needs. While the process has generated some controversy this time around, the sales are nothing new: the City of Philadelphia has for years either sold or recycled buildings that have outlived their usefulness. Often as not, the buildings are demolished and replaced with new ones, but not always: schools turned into apartments are common sights in a number of city neighborhoods. Recycled fire stations are not unheard of either, and earlier this week, we ran into one that appears to be in the middle of a recycling job. Where did we find it?

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Answer next week.

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Jefferson Alumni Hall

Last week’s Hidden Treasure Hunt answer: Last week’s clue was a Gotcha!, and we managed to snare a reader, who guessed that the building was the Federal prison at Seventh and Arch streets. Actually, our building wasn’t a prison; it just looks like one. It’s Jefferson Alummi Hall, the Thomas Jefferson University student union in the 1000 block of Locust Street in Washington Square West. Built by the Commonwealth in 1967, it is one of a slew of undistinguished, uninspired buildings designed by state architects during a decade-long building spree that greatly enlarged the campuses of Drexel, Jefferson, Penn and Temple universities.

Hidden Treasure Hunt: Minimum security

Urban prisons are nothing new. The nation’s first penitentiary had an entire neighborhood grow up around it, and some of Boston’s poshest apartments surround a building that was once a jail and is now a luxury hotel. While it’s rare to find prisons occupying prime waterfront real estate, they can now appear in places you might never expect them-or in buildings that you wouldn’t think performed that function. Usually, they’re easy to pick out of the crowd by their slit-like windows, designed to let in light and air without the need for intimidating iron bars. We ran across one such building in our perambulations recently. Or did we? Here’s our evidence; you tell us what we stumbled across and where we stumbled across it.

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Answer next week.

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Last week’s Hidden Treasure Hunt answer: Apparently, we need to hone our powers of observation a bit, for we misread that bas-relief above the entrance to the United States Custom House at Second and Chestnut streets in Old City. It’s not a cornucopia, as we suggested, that the woman is resting her arm on; instead, it’s a bison, a beast that was once plentiful itself across America’s Great Plains before settlers heading west all but elminated them in the late 19th century. They are, however, now making a comeback in some of the territory they once roamed.

Hidden Treasure Hunt: The bounty of the land

Astute observers may note that agricultural abundance appears to be a distinguishing feature of the larger region around Philadelphia, at least if the civic and state government seals are any guide. Staves of wheat, cornucopias, plows and other symbols suggesting both agriculture and plenty are quite common on them.

That even goes for some of the local buildings. Like this one. Unless we’re very much mistaken, that’s a horn of plenty that the seated figure in the center is resting her arm on. And isn’t the man to her right harvesting something?

But the question we’re interested in the answer to is this: On what building do you find this frieze? And why might it be a good place for it?

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Answer next week.

Photo by the author

Last week’s Hidden Treasure Hunt answer: That broken pediment we showed you is one of two that crown a building at 1334 Walnut St. in Washington Square West that houses two eateries on its street floor and offices above.