TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Old Western Union Building Becomes a Condo

Old Western Union Building Becomes a Condo
23 Dec 2005 09:15:37 -0800

A former Western Union Telegraph Co building in center city
Philadelphia has been converted into luxury condos (per Real Estate
section, Phila Inquirer, 12/23/05). It was built in the 1920s and
used until the late 1960s. Sale prices range from $346k to $2.6

A number of old industrial and commercial buildings in downtown
Philadelphia are being converted into residences. A former major Bell
Telephone building at 1835 Arch St was sold, and I believe the former
1960's Bell of Pa headquarters at One Parkway was sold too. (I always
thought One Parkway was an ugly example of 1960's style.)

Good thing for them I'm not living there. I'd get on the Condo Board
and make it "authentic" Western Union, with Teletypewriters in each
unit and maybe even a Morse code key/sounder. Imagine the residents
when they discover their 1920s style telephone set is not for
decoration but rather the phone they have to use, and their Internet*
access is by Model 28 Teletype at 75 baud.

Seriously, I have mixed feelings about all these building conversions.
On the one hand it is good because otherwise empty buildings are being
put to good use and the people buying them are affluent and the city
desperately needs them. But on the other hand I'd rather see these
buildings used for their original purpose -- to create wealth.
Economic wealth is created when we take raw materials and convert them
into a useable finished product. Merely moving finished goods and
money from one place to another doesn't create anything. Where do the
goods that were once made in these buildings now come from? This is a
factor our foreign balance of trade deficit is so high -- we have
outsiders do our manufacturing for us.

* As an aside, is "Internet" properly capitalized or not? I'm not
sure how the word usage falls into the rules of grammar. When we
speak of something generically, as in 'I'm taking the train to work
today", we use lower case for train. But if speaking of a specific
brand, "I'm taking the Santa Fe Railroad to work today", the word
"Railroad" is capitalized because it is part of the Santa Fe name. We
don't capitalize computer as in "I'm working on the computer". But
should we capitalize the internet ("I'm working on the Internet)?

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The same thing happened in Chicago. The
old Illinois Bell headquarters building at 225 West Randolph and 212
West Washington Street (different sides to the same block-wide building)
I am told was converted to condominiums. I do not know, having not
been in downtown Chicago since 1999 except for one occassion in late
2001 when I went to the 'sing-along Messiah' at Orchestra Hall that
Christmas. I did not stick around afterward, just went and got my
bus at Greyhound to come back to Independence.

And you asked how to properly case the word 'internet'. Actually Lisa,
there are two different words, each spelled the same way and
pronounced the same way, but different. There is upper-case /I/
Internet and lower-case /i/ internet. Originally, upper-case Internet
was the connecting mechanism between sites in the network of sites
which formed the Internet, a collection of ARPA sites and (what we
now refer to as EDUcational ('.edu') sites but they were not called
'' in those days; just 'whatever'. So 'whatever' and
'whatever else' and 'somewhere else' were connected to other places in
the MILitary network ('.mil) and GOVernment networks ('.gov') [but
they did not call those '.mil' or '.gov' either in those days; they
were part of the {A}dvanced {R}esearch -- ARPA thing.] ARPA and those
universities connected through the upper-case Internet. There was also
BITnet ([B]ecause [I]'s [T]ime Network which was another bunch of
of schools. BITnet did not interconnect with Internet except through a
few 'gateway' locations. That was late 1970's through middle 1980's.

To get this Digest out each day, I did it on a machine called 'eecs at
nwu' which was Northwestern University in Evanston, IL because
Evanston was within my unlimited calling package from Illinois Bell.
From eecs I could 'rlogin' to the predessor of massis which was a
machine called 'xx' as I recall. But I had to have an entry on my
mailing list called 'telecom at nwu.bitnet' so that the BITnet
subscribers could get their copies. Many _very major_ corporations
(such as IBM) also were on BITnet. All the above comprised the
upper case /I/nternet.

Around 1993-94 when the guy passed on who was more or less the
coordinator for the whole thing, VP Al ('the bore') Gore invented the
lower case /i/ internet which was to interconnect with the upper case
/I/ Internet and anything else which came along down the stream. The
original ARPA had an Acceptable Spam -- err, Use Policy which dictated
what people could and could not do on ARPA sites, and by extension,
the Internet. All that fell by the wayside once the guy was dead and
out of the way; Al Gore and his bastard child ICANN took over the
newly created lower case /i/ internet. Once the lawyers in that firm
in Washington, DC gave birth to ICANN, the rule was changed to
'anything goes' on internet, since as any right-thinking person would
explain to you, 'we cannot dictate what anyone does on their site'.
There was no more room to have an AUP because that would involve
dictating what people were 'allowed to do.'

So the short answer to your question is that 'Internet' was the older,
and original interconnection between sites, and 'internet' is what we
are stuck with now. Both casings of the word are acceptable, IMO. PAT]

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