Philadelphia’s Ice Castle was formerly the Locust Medical Center at 52nd and Locust Streets. The vacant doctor’s office and pharmacy caught fire in the early morning hours of February 16, 2015. The temperature was 3 degrees with a windchill factor of -16 below, and the water used on the fire froze on nearby buildings, power lines, cars, and anything else it touched. For a week people visited from around the city to take photos of the hauntingly beautiful remains. Neighboring property owners were concerned that the entire structure would collapse under the weight of the ice, and within a week it was torn down. The spot is currently the outdoor seating area for Big G’s Chicken Shack.
Such a phenomenon isn’t unprecedented; in 2013 a Chicago warehouse caught fire and the ice-encrusted remains of the building briefly caught worldwide attention – as did a 1931 fire in freezing conditions at Butler’s Wharf in London or the Waterman Opera House in Nebraska in 2014. Ice turns the remains into a surreal and tragic sculpture to be marveled at for a brief moment, before the ice and the building it encases are lost forever.
Matthew Christopher PA Philadelphia Feb 17, 2022 History