Touring Philadelphia's City Hall

I spent a 4 day weekend in Philadelphia recently and walked all over checking out a ton of art and architecture. One of the most impressive sites I saw was the Philadelphia City Hall, constructed between 1871-1901.

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This place is amazing! It is the country’s largest municipal building, even larger than the U.S. Capitol! It contains around 700 rooms and more than 250 architectural reliefs and freestanding sculptures, with a 37’ bronze sculpture of William Penn on top of the clock tower.

It’s challenging to capture the building in photos, but I tried! The four main entrance halls leading to a center courtyard all had unique architectural features making each different from the other. I spend much of my time looking up.

The real treat was taking a guided tour which spent some time with us walking around the outside of the building, but then working our way through multiple rooms inside, including the city council chambers, mayor’s room and the top of the clock tower.

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The clock tower is crowned with a 37’ bronze sculpture of William Penn. When you’re on the observation deck of the tower, you’re under the statue in an encloses space about 25 feet across with a walk that barely allows 2 people to pass each other. It’s definitely not an experience for those afraid of heights.

I like being independent when I travel, relying on my own research and planning. But, I learned you can’t beat the knowledge and experience a tour gives you of a place. There is so much information and photos online about this magnificent City Hall, but there’s nothing quite like experiencing it with a tour guide who can point out details you won’t get online.

If you ever have a chance to visit Philadelphia, make a City Hall tour a priority. It’s a wonderful look at a building first thought to be an eyesore that has become a signature feature of the city, serving the city’s government and politics for over 100 years.