Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: One South Broad's PNB Sign Partially Removed By Helicopter

James Jennings


Photos by James Jennings

As of today, Philadelphia is down one more iconic sign — check that, one quarter of an iconic sign. The famous Philadelphia National Bank sign atop One South Broad was scheduled to be fully removed Sunday. It's safe to say things didn't go exactly as planned. The remarkable display called for the 12 "PNB" letters, each one standing 16-feet tall and weighing 3,000 pounds, to be attached to a helicopter and air-lifted just north of City Hall — super close to almost-ready-to-open Dilworth Park. The air-show of sorts was scheduled to begin at 6 am, with the streets closed around City Hall until noon. However, delays kept pushing it back and the first letter didn't get hoisted off the Founder's Bell belfry until 9:30 am. Only three letters, the south-facing threesome, were able to be removed over nearly seven hours. When the remaining nine letters will be removed is a mystery as plans have been postponed without a date in mind. One thing is for sure, it made from some incredible photos.

The Philadelphia Business Journal reported in May that the building was purchased by Aion Partners for $68M. According to a spokesperson from Wells Fargo, the sign is being removed due to concerns about the structural integrity of the gigantic letters and renovation of the hand-made sign would be cost prohibitive — which is too bad. The removal process was impressive and made for some movie-like photos. Seriously, check out this picture from Hidden City's Bradley Maule on Instagram (update: and these as well):

Again, there is no timetable for the removal of the final nine letters. Even if there was, it seems like it wouldn't be anytime soon. According to The Daily News:

The removal process requires permits from both the city and the Federal Aviation Administration. The helicopter crewmen from CHI Aviation in Howell, Mich., said they would be traveling to another job by day's end with their four-bladed, twin-engine Super Puma.

· PNB letters, long an iconic part of the Philadelphia skyline, to be removed Sunday [The Inquirer]
· PNB letters survive another day [Daily News]
· Only 3 of 12 Letters Removed From "PNB" Building [NBC 10]
· We've Mapped the Most Iconic Signs around Philadelphia [Curbed Philly]