Tivoli Condominiums

The Tivoli Condominiums on the western edge of Baldwin Park.

The Granary at Logan Square is at the left.

The ten-story Tivoli building lines the west side of Matthias Baldwin Park, and its inhabitants account for more than half of the membership of the Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park. There is a courtyard west of the tower, and this courtyard, with 39 townhouses including the six facing Hamilton Street, was built first in 2005. The tower, containing 75 units, was built in 2006 as the second phase. There are two floors of underground garage parking, a gym, a playroom, a community room, a community kitchen, and a concierge. The lobby features three hand-blown glass mobiles by artist Ming Fay, all visible from the street. Let's look at the history of this parcel, taking note of three Philadelphia businesses that grew from this site into regional or national conglomerates.

Portion of a map from 1796 showing the neighborhood around the future Tivoli.

The future 19th Street runs vertically across the whole image on the left.

The site of the future blue-roofed Tivoli is the blue rectangle just above Robert Morris' proposed canal.

Springetsbury House belonged to the family of William Penn, as discussed here, and Bush Hill to the family of William Hamilton, as discussed here.

Stanley Griswold Flagg, whose ancestors arrived in the colonies in 1635 and fought in the American Revolution, worked in the dry goods business in Philadelphia, but believed there was a future in pipes. Currently in Philadelphia, there are 6,000 miles of gas service pipes, 3,174 miles of water supply pipes, 3,000 miles of sanitary and storm sewer pipes, and 30 miles of high-pressure steam pipes. This infrastructure was being laid down in the 19th century. In 1854 Stanley G. Flagg founded a company, and in 1857 bought land in the Frankford section of the newly consolidated City of Philadelphia, to build a factory that did not make pipes, but the fittings to connect the pipes. He claimed to be the world's first dedicated manufacturer of malleable iron threaded pipe fittings. The "malleable" iron used for piping water, sewers, and gas was less brittle and less sensitive to temperature changes.


In 1860 he built shops at Front and Girard Avenues (identified by Flagg as the Keystone shop), and then in 1865, in need of a railroad line for bringing in coal and iron and shipping out iron fittings, he added a shop at 19th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue (identified as the Union shop). Pennsylvania Avenue at this time was a surface street and covered with 4 railroad tracks as part of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. It would be submerged into the open Callowhill Cut in 1898. The need for this railroad access was reinforced by the discovery of oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in 1858, and the petroleum industry would grow to become one of Flagg's biggest customers.

Sketch from the early days of the Union Malleable and Grey Iron Works. The malleable iron fitting was Flagg's niche product, but he hedged his bets by also turning out the more traditional and less flexible "grey" iron fittings.

 The view here is from the southeast, and would be looking at the southeast corner of Tivoli today.

Busy industries in the area initially expanded production by raising the roofs on their factories and adding more floors. Eventually demand for space at the Flagg factory necessitated an expansion in 1897 to 50 acres in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and later a complete move. This was also around the time of peak production at the Baldwin Locomotive Works, which began the move to Eddystone, Pennsylvania, for the same reason in 1906. The Stanley Flagg and Company, with 1,000 employees at its peak, shut down its plant in Pottstown in 1997. You can peruse the 1866 catalog of parts here.

Map from 1875 showing Stanley Flagg's Malleable Iron Works occupying the northwest corner of 19th and Pennsylvania Avenue. Before 1898, railroad tracks ran at street level on Pennsylvania Avenue, prior to the Callowhill Cut. Notice Caven Street to the west of the factory. Also, notice the rail road turntable at the current site of the Philadelphia Sports Club.

Portion of a Hexamer Insurance map from 1882, showing the growth of the Union Malleable Iron Works.

Further growth and the rail siding from the Callowhill Cut visible in 1900.

Caven Street, the wide street on the left, has had a name change to Opal Street, and in this sketch the rowhouses on the west side of Opal Street are omitted and the street seems much wider than it really was.

Photo from 1905 showing the Flagg building on the right, the siding underneath the building (still there today), and the track ramp up to the wooden granary building (also still there). This granary building would burn down and be replaced by today's concrete building in 1925.

In 1891, Irish immigrants Samuel Robinson and Robert Crawford opened a grocery store in South Philadelphia. In 1917 their multiple Acme Markets merged with four other Philadelphia grocery chains to form a new company, American Stores, with headquarters in Center City Philadelphia. By 1922, as seen on the map below, an American Stores warehouse occupied the future Tivoli site. Like many grocery chains it has struggled over the years, and now has 164 supermarkets, including the one at 5th and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia, about a half-mile from where the first grocery store was located in 1891. 

Portion of Bromley map from 1922 showing an American Stores warehouse on the future Tivoli site.

In 1922 the area on Hamilton Street between 20th and 21st Streets looked much like the current building site at 2100 Hamilton before construction began. Rodin Place (occupied now by stores, the Philadelphia Sports Club, and MANNA) has two stories below street level, just as 2100 Hamilton Condominiums will.

Also, note for later the Cutter Electrical Manufacturing Company at the northeast corner of Hamilton and 19th Streets.

Aerial view from the southeast around 1930. The concrete granary is seen. The five-story darker building to its right is the site of the former Flagg building. A new taller building went up around 1914 and in 1930 was being used as a warehouse by American Stores, today's Acme Markets. The block-long eight story building to the right of the former Flagg site is part of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, and is on the north half of today's Baldwin Park. From 1930 to 1931 this building provided temporary housing for 12,000 homeless men. By 1962, this building and the shorter building to the south of it would be used by the ITE Circuit Breaker Company.

Photo in 1940 from the south showing construction cranes on the Municipal Court building.

19th Street runs up and to the left between the Central Library and the Municipal Court.

Buildings formerly to the right belonging to the Baldwin Locomotive Works were demolished in the late 1930s.

The two similar looking buildings to the right of the granary, both with rooftop water tanks, are being used as warehouses in 1940, the smaller one on the left by American Stores, and the larger one on the right by Lit Brothers.  

Photo from 1948 looking northwest from the 1800 block of Callowhill Street.

The building with the water tank is on the current site of the Tivoli. The granary is on the far left in back. The 1946 Dodge in foreground is a little too close to that hydrant.

In 1891, coincidentally the same year as the birth of Acme Markets, one Henry Cutter began making circuit breakers in a private residence at 27 South 11th Street. Older glass-enclosed fuses contain a strip of metal that melts and breaks the circuit, protecting against electrical fires when the current is too high for that circuit. Cutter made mechanical circuit breakers to supersede the fuse. A current surge would mechanically pop a knife switch which opened the circuit. His company was eventually named I-T-E, derived from the term "inverse time element," which describes the mechanism of action in that the higher the current surge, the shorter the time interval to break the circuit. These types of mechanical circuit breakers, with smaller components, are in use today. For a witty I-T-E marketing booklet from 1915, see here.

He moved westward to 1112 Sansom Street, then to the northeast corner of 19th and Hamilton Streets as noted a few images ago. By 1951, a portion of the building at the future Tivoli site was being used by the I-T-E Circuit Breaker Company. 

I-T-E owned a good amount of real estate in the neighborhood by 1971, and was one of the five partners in the Franklin Town Development Corporation, as discussed here.

Part of an insurance map from 1951. 

I-T-E Circuit Breaker has taken over most of the future Tivoli site. In this image the west side of Opal Street has been cleared of homes except for those fronting Hamilton Street and number 428. 

1971 map of land owners within the proposed Franklin Town Development Project.

I-T-E, renamed I-T-E Imperial in the 1960s, owned parts of four blocks, including the sites of the Tivoli and Baldwin Park.

This is how the entrance to today's Tivoli garages from 20th Street looked in 1955.

Today's driveway in 1955 was Belgian block-lined Pennsylvania Avenue, as noted on the street sign. The concrete granary is unchanged. The wrought iron fence on the left is unchanged, but the railing along the bridge itself was replaced with a less elaborate version in 1964 when the bridge was refurbished.

Pennsylvania Avenue today is confusing, in that Callowhill Street turns into Pennsylvania Avenue west of 20th Street to 21st Street, where it winds behind the Rodin Museum (this "street" open daytime only), and then reappears fully at 22nd Street. The original Pennsylvania Avenue ran where the Callowhill Cut is today.

Looking east in 1960 from what is now the Target parking lot, the brand new police station at the northwest corner of  20th and Callowhill Streets is seen in front of the west face of the granary. The I-T-E building is to the left of the granary. The convertible in the foreground is a 1956 Morris Minor, the Mini Cooper of its day. To its right is a 1957 Dodge with impressive tailfins.

Photo in 1991, probably from the roof of the building that is today's Watermark.

Embryonic Matthias Baldwin Park is surrounded by surface parking lots. The one on the far left will be the site of the Tivoli starting in 2005.

In 2003 the Tivoli site was a paved, rather pleasant-looking surface parking lot. This view is from the west.

By April 2005 construction on the courtyard section is well underway. This view is from 19th Street looking northwest.

The tower also rises.

This view from June 2005 is from 19th Street looking southwest.

View from the west in December 2005.

The tower is being finished while the courtyard is inhabited.

Aerial view from the northwest in 2016 showing the spectacular finished product.

The North x Northwest townhouses are nearing completion at upper left.

Since the courtyard units were completed before the tower units, this entrance to the courtyard became the address for all the units including the tower units: 1900 Hamilton Street. All package deliveries and many Uber pick-ups go via the lobby, which is around the corner on 19th Street.

The name Tivoli is associated with the amusement park in Copenhagen, the gardens in Paris, neighborhoods throughout the world, buildings, and a fire company in Philadelphia in the 1860s. Ultimately the name harks back to the ancient Italian city north of Rome. The original name of this city was Tibur, which came to be used in the diminutive as Tiburi, and then transformed to Tivoli. The estates in Tivoli were famous for their gardens and fountains.

A major draw to the Tivoli is the quiet contemplative courtyard, with trellised Wisteria and a fountain. The lower-level units have patios and the upper-level units on the left have private balconies facing the courtyard. A two-story garage with 206 spaces is below this courtyard.

25-foot-tall mobiles by Ming Fay in the Tivoli lobby, as part of the One Percent for Art program (for more examples in the neighborhood see here). This photo was taken from inside the lobby looking east in 2011. The North x Northwest townhouses and second tower along the Park are not yet built on the surface parking lot at the left rear of this image.

Last remnant of construction on the Tivoli, in image from 2020, at the southern end of the driveway off 20th Street. This was the electrical connector for the construction site.

A special thanks goes out to Jim Fennell for many of these pictures of the Tivoli.

authored by Joe Walsh, February 2020

Matthias Baldwin Park 

423 N 19th St 

Philadelphia, PA 19130

Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to preserve the Matthias Baldwin Park

© 2018 Friends of Matthias Baldwin Park