Daybreak in the Beury Building Penthouse, 2012. The National Bank of North Philadelphia – now commonly referred to as the Beury Building – is a National Register of Historic Places-listed building that has been abandoned since the early 1980s. Originally a lavish 11-story Art Deco bank tower, it was later converted for mixed-use, including a 3-story Penthouse on top, crowned by a pyramidal roof. The now-14-story building is the largest in North Philly, and the only significant Art Deco building left in the entire city. And yet, it has been left to rot for 30 years. Pictured here is the top floor of the Penthouse during the Blue Hour, when the first strains of daylight were lazily reaching the sky.
Reaching the Penthouse is another matter, and anything but lazy – the stairs are almost completely gone, and only a set of dodgy wooden planks separates the climber from a painful (or deadly) fall of between 1-4 stories. The building owners who commissioned me to photograph the tower for some “before renovation” photos advised me that I did not need to photograph this section as it was “inaccessible”. Of course, I “accessed” it. In the top image, a wide view of this floor, the glass of the windows long since broken out. In the center image, an individual viewing window. And in the bottom image, a detail of the view out the same window – whoever once lived here had a wonderful view of a once-affluent neighborhood, now dominated by liquor stores, pawn shops, and shady characters. This view was worth the sketchy climb.