7 Things You Should know About Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall is the seat of government in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was designed in 1871 by Scottish architect John McArthur Jr., whose plan combined eclectic styles with an emphasis on severe, blocky geometry.
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. On top of the building is a tall, 5-faced clock tower with large stone bell housed inside.
The history of Philadelphia City Hall revolves around its location on top of Philadelphia’s Penn Square, which was originally intended to be the site for Philadelphia’s City Hall ever since William Penn laid out his city on a grid plan in 1682. After repeated political complications, the land was finally set aside in 1735 by mayor William Keith, which started plans to build a dedicated seat of government for the city.
Construction on City Hall began in 1871 and took nearly 70 years to complete because of interruptions such as the American Civil War and economic difficulties during the Gilded Age. The building’s final design is a mix of styles, including French Second Empire, Italianate, and German Romanesque Revival.
Philadelphia City Hall’s architecture is highly ornate, featuring many intricate details that are difficult to see from the ground. These include stone carvings of eagles, lions, gargoyles, and more.
Philadelphia City Hall underwent major renovations in 2007 to repair cracks caused by foundation issues uncovered during the Penn Center/30th Street Station redevelopment project. The building was also repainted for the first time since it was built using a state-of-the-art paint system.
Philadelphia City Hall was not the first building to serve as Philadelphia’s city hall. Before it, various buildings served in that role, including Independence Hall (pre-1776), Carpenters’ Hall (1770s), Congress Hall (1775–83), and Old City Hall (1822-1971).
Philadelphia City Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. It is considered one of the most important examples of French Second Empire architecture in the United States.
How tall is City Hall?
The top of the tower stands at 440 feet high, not including the 9-foot-tall lightning rod.
Is City Hall open to visitors?
Yes, but only during First Friday events and for occasional guided tours throughout the year. It’s a great opportunity to see the building’s interior, which features a grand staircase, marble floors, and mosaics.
Philadelphia City Hall is an impressive building with a rich history. If you’re ever in Philadelphia, be sure to check it out!