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With a fierce sounding and imposing name, The Drake is one of Philadelphia?s iconic skyscrapers and was constructed in 1929 to serve as an upscale hotel for the city?s wealthiest. It was perhaps, the grandest and most acclaimed high-rise building in Philadelphia during the peak of skyscrapers creation which happened in the metropolis during the 1920s. Even after so many decades, The Drake still stands as one of the most popular figure in Philadelphia?s skyline despite the rise of several modern and state-of-the art structures.

The Drake is situated at the corner of Hicks and Spruce Street, within the area of the posh and trendy Rittenhouse Square District. When it was inaugurated in 1929, The Drake was Philadelphia?s second highest skyscraper with 33 storeys towering at 375 feet, only trailing behind the 1928 Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company Building which is presently known as Wachovia Building.

The Drake was fashioned in the Art Deco style and was conceptualized by a well-known Philadelphia-based architecture firm Ritter and Shay. During the time that The Drake was planned, the use of setback in buildings was required as mandated by New York?s 1916 zoning law to enable natural light to reach the streets below. However, Ritter and Shay looked beyond its practicality and used setbacks as decorative elements rather just merely a practical tool. The terraces found on top of The Drake are embellished in beautiful Spanish baroque aesthetics complete with finials, mascarons, scrolls, brick motifs and balustrades. A couple strings of timelessly beautiful Ionic volutes serves as a preamble to the massive terracotta dome that crowns The Drake.

The Drake is cladded with Pompeian brick fa?ade ornamented with terracotta patters. The ground level of the building is adorned with terracotta pieces revolving around a nautical theme such showing figures such as dolphins and ships. The theme is to pay tribute to Sir Francis Drake, the famous sea captain whom The Drake takes its name after.

The Drake was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and by mid-1980s, an extensive renovation to convert The Drake into a condominium property and later on, into an apartment building, started. Many real estate experts often compare the apartments found at The Drake?s penthouse to the opulent apartments in New York City.
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