Philadelphia as the Center of the Universe
There is a new “tallest building” in town. I was privileged to be invited to peek inside it. This is what the experience triggered in my mind.
Once upon a time, the tallest building in the world was in Philadelphia.
It was between 1894 and 1908, when the 548-foot-tall structure we call today Philadelphia City Hall was, in an act of global ambition, ordered to be built by our city leaders at the very center of that grid of streets William Penn envisioned his “Holy Experiment.”
That was 212 years earlier, in 1682, when the Quaker leader founded here the little village of Philadelphia, capital of what was going to be the new British Colony of Pennsylvania.
Penn’s “Holy Experiment” evolved to be, 106 years later, in 1776, the center of a new, very radical idea that led to a historic event of global proportions.
A whole nation was born here, on a principle written on a simple piece of paper, called today by the world “The U.S. Declaration of Independence.”
That new nation, under God, where “all men are created equal” —as Thomas Jefferson wrote on the document in 1776 at a house on Market Street West— has endured 242 years and has led to the creation of the most powerful nation on earth.
All these thoughts were going through my mind on September 20, 2018, when I had the personal privilege to step in the new tallest building in Philadelphia —and the ninth tallest in the U.S.— in a tour guided by the very CEO of Comcast, Mr. Brian Roberts.
He was gracious enough to walk us through several finished floors of the 60-floor structure interconnected by miles of fiber optic cable and super fast Wi-Fi connection —described to us as a “vertical campus” for innovation and entrepreneurship— with space for 4,000 engineers, software architects and designers.
The largest technological and human brain hub of its kind ever seen on the East Coast, with potential to turn Philadelphia once again into a center of global attention and appeal.
This city seems to have a calling to aspire to be the center of the universe, as we dared in 1682 —or in 1776, or, 100 years later, in 1876— or perhaps now, 336 years after, in 2018.
Every morning I look up at that crystal tower called the “Comcast Technology Center” —as I walk to my own AL DÍA’s Office, only two blocks away on Market Street— and I can’t help but think about what may be next for our wondrous city.