Slo-mo demolition of iconic Philadelphia Drexel smokestack

Nicole sez, "Philebrity posted a haunting video of the recent demolition of the Drexel Shaft in Philadelphia. The tripped out music and slowly tumbling smoke stack aptly visualize a crumbling American economy."

He's One Bad Mutha- Shut Your Mouth! But I'm Talking About DREXEL SHAFT! (Thanks, Nicole!)


  1. Note the glass in the tower behind shaking as the upper portion of the stack hits the ground. Amazing. I’ve got to get on the HD bandwagon.

    Also, for more on the “shaft,” check out The Necessity for Ruins blog:

  2. “…aptly visualize a crumbling American economy.”

    Or it aptly visualizes the decline in use of steam heat powered by coal in the us, but lets not quibble.

    1. Or it aptly visualizes the decline in use of steam heat powered by coal in the us, but lets not quibble.

      Exactly. If anything it is a sign of progress in this town. That thing has stood lifeless over 30th Street Station for ages. ‘Bout time it came down.

      Between this, the new S. Street bridge and Penn’s plans for the postal lands, the whole west center city/east university city area is getting a much needed sprucing up.

  3. All the while I was trying to enjoy the awesome majestic event shown I expected someone to get shot. Damn you, SNL!

  4. Hey, I’m not complaining about it coming down. I am aware of Penn’s plans to revitalize the area. I just liked how the original blogger linked it to the demise of industry in the US. Truthfully, I never expected my words to be re-posted here :)

    1. You spent your childhood denying that Buster knocked over your wooden block tower in kindergarten, didn’t you? There are fanatics in this word who hate our…our successful tall things. Wake up!!!

  5. Watch it in full-screen HD: You can see the shiny building next to it shimmy when the shockwave hits it.

    Bad ass.

  6. It’s a cool video, but just toppling a tower like that so close to a railway line? Really?

    Old Fred would have had it down almost in its own footprint. No fancy explosives, just knock a hole in the chimney, prop it up with wood, then start a big fire.

    The video is long because it a big of a memorial thing, but just watch how they all stand there, bloody close to the chimney, and watch it collapse toward them…

    1. holy crap, caffeine addict, that video was a lot of buildup but the payoff was TOTALLY WORTH IT. everyone should see that. i had never heard of mr. dibnah before, but my hat’s off to him. what a craftsman.

    2. I’ve seen that Fred Dibnah video before, it’s great. I love guys like Fred Dibnah and Blaster Bates.
      “Fred would have had it down almost in its own footprint.”

      Well, Fred’s stacks were generally brick, I don’t believe the Drexel shaft was.

    3. They laid it down right between two Amtrak lines. They actually dropped it on top of the (abandoned) Pullman building. A traditional implosion would have resulted in debris landing on the tracks, which was an unacceptable option.

  7. This was a victory for all Drexel University students. The smokestack was known as the lovable icon “Drexel Shaft”, a representation of all the ways students were screwed over. Progress!

  8. Yes, they always break in half before they hit the ground,
    but why does this happen? (wind resistance on the longer

  9. Well this is a first on YouTube:

    “The video is not available on your country due to copyright restrictions.”

    YouTube joins the rankest of ranks with the likes of Hulu, Spotify and all those who think the Intertubes should somehow magically conform to national boundaries … sigh.

    “We’ve got that demolition copyrighted. It’s a work of art. No one knocks crap down like we do. Can’t let them damn foreigners see us at it, ’cause we’ll lose sales.”

    Please help me pile scorn on them, someone.

  10. @emo hex – the chimney pivots around the base as it falls, so the top is subject to higher centrifugal forces than the parts closer to the base. As the collapse progresses, the lower half of the chimney contacts the wall of the rectangular building, the lower half is slightly slowed and the mortar holding the bricks of the chimney together reach its tensile strength limit (cement and mortar aren’t so good in tension as they are in compression) and the top half separates from the lower half. You’ll notice that the top half ends up further to the right than might be suggested by its rotation at the start of the movement, that’s the (now unhindered) centrifugal force pushing the top part of the tower right.

  11. You can see the shockwave of the crash in the glass building behind ground 0. This is cool. Way cool.

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