“Back When I Was A Kid…” The Spectrum Was Happenin’

Mid-demolition of the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Winter 2011

How many times have you heard an “old” person start out a sentence just this way?

Well, back when I was a kid, the Spectrum in Philadelphia was a big concrete stadium that always felt outdated. It remained this way till last year, until a wrecking ball took aim. It was probably outdated for years by the time I got to be old enough to remember it. I was going through yet another folder and found these pictures of a mostly demolished Spectrum in South Philadelphia last winter. My husband and I actually drove down there on a pretty and brisk Saturday to take some shots of a place that holds so many memories, before it was only a pile of dust.

  • My first circus with Grandmom
  • First of many concerts
  • First NBA game
  • First college basketball game
  • Countless other random events

The first time I smelled drugs was at my very first concert here. My Mom took me to see Elton John when I was in 4th grade. He was always her favorite.  I’ll never forget it.  She turned to me and at one point said, “Shannon, do you smell that? That is marijuana. Try not to breathe it in”. Well the story goes that she turned away to sing along and when she looked back I was straining to hold my breath in my big chubby cheeks. She told me I could continue breathing, but being the good girl I was, I was cautious.

I also always loved the corridors to get to my seat there. Each section felt like it had its own little dramatic tunnel that opened up in a world of bright lights and excitement. The nosebleeds were so high and the inclines so steep that it felt slightly dangerous, and the ceiling felt surprisingly close. The walkways were too narrow and during intermissions, it felt like a traffic jam. The concrete columns looked stained and filthy and it never really felt fresh and sparkly like many of the newer arenas today.

The building has equated to a large empty lot by now and in its place will be a big construction site soon. Xfinity Live has been touted as another stadium experience, but with colorful restaurants and events, giving concert and sports fans a reason to stay within walking distance to Citizens Bank Park, Wells Fargo Center and Lincoln Financial Field.  Sure it sounds nice, but being local, we love our underdogs and unsightly appearances; I’ll always have a soft spot for the ratty old Spectrum.

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