Historic Preservation

  • Cover photograph by Joseph Elliott

Aaron Wunsch and Joseph Elliott: Palazzos of Power

A collaboration of Associate Professor Aaron Wunsch and lecturer Joseph Elliott, recent book 'Palazzos of Power' examines Philadelphia power generating stations built by PECO between 1900-1930.

"If it isn't Electric, it isn t Modern." Such was the slogan of the Philadelphia Electric Company, developer of an unprecedented network of massive metropolitan power stations servicing greater Philadelphia at the turn of the twentieth century. These once-brilliant sentinels of civic utility and activity were designed to convey 'solidity and immensity in an age of deep public skepticism. They now stand vacant and decaying, a blight in the eyes of city planners and a beacon to urban explorers. The first book on the buildings and machines that made possible the electrification of the United States, Palazzos of Power offers a visual and analytical exploration of architecture, technology, place, loss, and reuse. With a foreword by David Nye, this collection of Joseph Elliott's beautiful large-format photographs reveal the urban landscape, monumental spaces, giant machinery, and intricate controls that made up the central station. Aaron Wunsch's essay provides historical context on the social and political climate.

-Princeton Architectural Press

Reviews and Press:

The Guardian: Cathedrals of Power: Philadelphia's Abandoned Turbine Halls- in Pictures
Occulus, Winter 2016
FastCo Design:
The Spectacular Architecture of Early Power Plants
Hidden City Philadelphia: Considering Our Riverfront Palazzos of Power: Their History and Potential
PowerMag: Palazzos of Power: Eye Candy for Electric Power History Buffs
Atlas Obscura: Striking Photos of Philadelphia's Abandoned Power Stations
Photo District News Photo of the Day: Philadelphia's Electrical Sublime 




Aaron Wunsch, Associate Professor
Joseph Elliott, Lecturer