Philadelphia's City Hall is the largest municipal building in the country. It is also one of a handful of buildings built in the Second-Empire style in this country. The two other notable buildings in this style are Baltimore's City Hall, and the Old Executive Office Building in Washington D.C.
You can see the spire of the building, with a statue of William Penn, throughout most of the city, but many of the views are now blocked by the new office towers. City Hall was the tallest building in the city until the mid-80s, when Liberty Place became the first building to be built higher than the William Penn statue. This was the result of a "gentleman's agreement" for years in which developers agreed not to exceed the height of Penn's statue. Liberty tower 1 is now the tallest structure in the city.
City Hall is placed at the congruence of Market and Broad streets. It sits on a massive plaza that allows one to easily walk around the building. There is also a courtyard in the middle of the building through which pedestrians can walk. It is easy to walk around the building and a quick stroll may be interesting to those who like the architecture. It is also possible to take an elevator to an observation deck on the top of the William Penn statue, providing excellent views over the entire city.
While in Philadelphia, why don't you stop for a visit to City Hall. Often overlooked, City Hall is the largest municipal building in the United States. The building contains over 14.5 acres of floor space. On top of City Hall sits a 27-ton statue of William Penn atop the clock tower. Until 1987, there was a city law that no buildings could be higher than the top of the William Penn statue, but that has passed as many buildings now reach higher into the sky.
There are tours that will take you throughout the building but my advice is to pass on the tour and instead take a FREE walk up the stairs to the observation deck which provides a panoramic view of the city.
As for the picture you see, this is City Hall during the Christmas Holiday season. 2005 marks a new beginning for City Hall as for the first time, instead of the traditional lights, City Hall is illuminated in amzaing colors from projected imagery. Casa Magica for Artlumiere of Paris, France has created this amazing site that makes it appear that City Hall has undergone a new paint job.
Lets talk about city hall. A number of plans were conceived over the years to demolish the huge building, but they all failed. The building covers 4½ acres of ground. For now, the building is safe. It's a historic landmark. Money held up the construction of the hall, they kept running out. It took so long that technology changed. The building had to be retrofitted in the middle replacing gas lamps with electric lamps. Now that it's finished simply walking up or down one of the six-story spiral staircases is a treat. The granite steps are cantilevered from the wall so they appear to float in air. Huge chandeliers illuminate mosaic floors, intricately decorated ceilings, sculptures, & artwork. Pennsylvania's founder, William Penn, has a bronze statue on top of the building. It faces northeast. The fingers are 30 inches long, nose 18 inches & hat 23 feet around. It is an enormous statue created at a time when the city and the country were entering an era of prosperity when bigger was better.
The clocks on Philadelphia City Hall are actually larger than those on Parliament Tower (Big Ben) in London.
The clock faces are 26 feet in diameter.
The minute hands are 15 feet long.
The hour hand 12½ feet long.
For an unknown reason, the south stairwell does not have entries onto each floor.
In the 1960's and 1970's there was a group of women known as the "City Hall Bunnies." Their job was to escort distinguished visitors around the building.
1871 - Ground breaking
1874 - Cornerstone is laid.
1894 - William Penn statue is placed on top of the building.
1899 - The clock starts.
2000 - An eight-year $347,000,000.00 renovation project is started. Years of neglect have led to leaking roofs, missing doors, rusting details, linoleum floors, and worse. Some corners are stained with urine, and homeless people occasionally use the rest rooms to bathe.
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It took me a while to realize after having lived here for years that you can actually do a (free... what used to be free adn i am sure still is) tour of city hall that is actually QUITE interesting -- I've done it several times now with all my friends who have come to visit me from abroad... you take the elevator up the tower - which mind you, is by far, NOT the tallest building, but its really preety and the view is great - especially on a clear day. then they take you around city hall and tell you a little history adn neat facts (stuff i never knew!) and even outside the hall - there's 4 sides to the building and each one represents a different season of the year! ... its really quit e interesting...
The Center of the 'City of Brotherly Love' is topped by this architectural Reinassance beauty.
This building rises510 feet up to the sky, its construction started formally on January 3, 1871.
As the nation's largest municipal building ( larger than the U.S. Capital), has been over and over subject of controversy.
After 30 years its construction period was finally completed. The building is a statement of determination.
This building is just massive. from what I was told, it was there when Philadelphia was still comprised of dirt roads, so to imagine how big it was back then is inconceivable. Wow is the only word that comes to mind.
City Hall really sticks out in downtown Philadelphia: even from far away, the statue of William Penn stands high above, marking the geographic center of the original city plan, as designed by Penn himself. Built in 1871, it is the largest city hall in the USA. I feel it is Philadelphia's most stunning building.
We did not have time to go inside during our stay in Philadelphia, but it is said you can take an elevator up to Penn's feet and enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
At the time of our visit, City Hall was undergoing renovations. Only one side remained to be refurbished, and it was so dark compared to the other three, it became an object of curiosity in itself.
The Philadelphia City Hall building is made of marble, granite, limestone, bricks, and concrete. It is the larges city hall in the country. The building stands in Penn Square and is pedestrian friendly with its tunnels that allow you to cross between Broad and Market Streets. The tower atop the building is open for tours.
City Hall, topped with a statue of Penn, used to be the tallest building in town and offers a viewing platform at the top.
South of it there is a theater district which offers all kinds of performances and art.
A little known fact is that the public is allowed to go to the top of City Hall. It's actually pretty high, and you have a fantastic 360 deg view of the surrounding areas. There is a charge, and only about 5-7 people are allowed up at one time, but there are very few visitors that it shouldn't be a problem to go up once to get to the desk. Also, there are some plaques and displays concerning the construction of city hall.
Also, the building is under going a large facelift. They are washing the years of dirt and grime from the facade of the building. One half of the building was complete the last time I was home, and it looked really amazing. It's got great architecture; take the time to enjoy it.
When the Philly Fliers get to the finals of the Stanley Cup the statue of William Penn on top of City Hall is given a Fliers top to wear - you need to look very closely at the picture to see this!.
Unfortunately the yaer this was taken they lost out to the Detroit Redwings.
This building can be seen from virtually anywhere in Philly because of a local ordinance which forbids other buildings being allowed to eclipse it. Guess that means any nearby buildings must be much lower.
The building was completed in 1900 and has over 600 rooms.
It's possible to take a tour of the building which includes the observation deck for great views of the city.
This is the center of Center City, Philadelphia. The city streets are laid out in a grid pattern, but all of that is disrupted by the giant City Hall building. When driving, you'll have to go all the way around the building to get by! A beautiful statue of William Penn graces the top.
As I can't figure out how to put more than one photograph on a page I thought I'd create this one for another shot of City Hall.
If you look closely you'll see, City Hall is embellished with a statues. I once read that it has more art work on it than any other building in the world. I find that a little hard to believe but I can tell you that you can spend hours searching for all of them.
OK, it's not a MUST see. More of a "it would be nice if you are nearby" see.
The photo is of City Hall. Look up top... higher, higher... there on top is Billy Penn (William to those that aren't on a personal level with him).
See if you can find someone to give you a tour of City Hall and give you some information about it... largest freestanding masonary building in the world (no, I don't fully know what that means), etc. The building has an interesting story.