Vivian Shirley on top of the Drake Hotel (under construction)

Historical Images of Philadelphia Philadelphiana
Vivian Shirley on top of the Drake Hotel (under construction)

Item Info

Item No: pdcp01073
Title: Vivian Shirley on top of the Drake Hotel (under construction)
Additional Title: "Stunt reporter" for the Evening Public Ledger
Creation Date: 1/29/1929
Historic Street Address: 1512-1514 Spruce Street
Media Type: Photographic Prints
Source: Print and Picture Collection

Born Elizabeth Malcolm, in 1898, in Lynchburg, VA, this intrepid “stunt reporter” went by the name of Vivian Shirley, when reporting for Philadelphia’s Evening Public Ledger, from the late-1920s until 1933.  Her student degrees from Longwood University (Farmville, VA) and the University of South Carolina prepared her for an academic and literary career, and she did teach and publish poetry and other writings; but she became popular for her adventurous reporting in the Ledger, willing to try anything to make a story interesting.

The caption for this 1929 photograph in the Ledger reads:  "THAT'S PHILADELPHIA ALL RIGHT!  Here we have Miss Vivian Shirley at the very top of Philadelphia's tallest apartment house, the Drake, at 15th and Spruce Streets, gazing downward and outward for a bird's-eye view of the city."  Of course, the Drake was still under construction at the time, and "the very top" only consisted of mere girders to stand on!

It should be noted that in 1932, Shirley’s stunts were curtailed by the Ledger, due to concerns that they endangered the paper’s insurance.  Shortly thereafter, in 1933, she married her editor, Harry Nason.  They moved to New York, where he became an editor for the New York Post, and she free-lanced and did radio spots for a decade or so.  Shirley died in 1987, at the age of 89, her name appearing in an obituary as Vivian Hinternhoff.

Geocode Latitude: Geocode Longitude:-75.167170
Geocode Latitude:39.946870

Creator Name: Evening Public Ledger - Photographer