History of Loews Philadelphia Hotel
Could Loews Philadelphia’s history be any richer? We don’t think so. Our landmark structure was America’s first skyscraper, rising a commanding 33 stories into the air. Using curved glass and bold geometric shapes, it was constructed in the Art Deco period and was home to our country’s first savings bank. Rare woods along with marble and granite from over 30 countries were utilized to dramatic effect, and clocks by Cartier made sure everyone was on time. We like to think it would have been the kind of place Jay Gatsby would have come to do business.
From 20 miles away, you can still catch sight of the undisturbed sign of the original owners—The Philadelphia Savings Fund Society—as PSFS glows in glorious red neon. Today, you can still see the imposing bank vault doors in our hotel lobby—an homage to our history and a striking art installation.
For decades, our landmark structure has hosted Philadelphia’s elite—and guests just like you. With a perfect downtown location, stunning guestrooms, a relaxing spa and an indoor pool, we like to think we’re proof that you really can have it all.
Through The Years
The Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PSFS) was the first savings bank in the United States. In 1929, the bank commissioned the construction of a 30-plus floor, 491-foot skyscraper that would provide for the banking and office activities of the Society.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the building was built and equipped at an estimated cost of $8 million and was opened in stages between 1932 and 1933. The architects, George Howe and William Lescaze, made certain every detail of the building was perfect; it was the world’s second skyscraper to have central air-conditioning. The public referred to it as “weather in a box.” The $8 million cost was an overwhelming amount during the depression. Today, the building’s materials and features would be near impossible to afford.
Revolutionizing the urban landscape, the PSFS building is considered one of the most significant buildings of the 20th century. In 1969 the local AIA voted it the most important building in the city in the last hundred years. By 1979 it was put on the National Register of Historic Places. However, in December of 1992, the building’s owners closed their doors for business.
In 1997, Loews Hotels & Resorts Chairman Jonathan Tisch and Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell announced in the PSFS boardroom that the PSFS building would be converted into a Loews Hotel. Conversion into a hotel began in 1998, and the Loews Philadelphia Hotel opened in April 2000. The hotel takes full advantage of the historical features of the building. The once three-story banking room is now a beautiful banquet space that has preserved the historical features, such as the bank’s safe, Cartier clocks, and original marble. Loews Philadelphia today houses 581 luxury rooms situated in one of the most significant and historic buildings in the country.
The Famous PSFS Sign
Having the PSFS sign on the roof of the building was the first time any advertisement was integrated into a building’s design. At the time the sign was put up, such acronyms were unheard of. Throughout the Great Depression the sign remained lit 24 hours a day, reassuring its customers that their money was safe and secure during hard times. Years later, the decision was made to only have the sign lit at night. However, in 1990 the bank was placed into receivership and the federal government made the decision to turn off the lights permanently. This decision outraged the public, which caused the sign to be turned back on in a matter of days. To this day, the sign still illuminates the Philadelphia skyline.
The 33rd Floor
The 33rd floor of the PSFS building was once set aside for the highest echelons of business. The top floor soon established itself as one of the most powerful business settings in the country. The floor was so exclusive and powerful that many of the PSFS top executives never even stepped foot upon the top level. According to urban myth, the elevator operators would get out of the car on the 32nd floor, to have the passengers go to the 33rd floor alone. As the elevator door closed the operator would call out, “You’re on your way, gentlemen!”
The historic features of the prestigious floor have been well maintained as part of the hotel. To this day, the original designs and unique style remain in place. And it’s home to some of our most impressive meeting space.