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A Must-See Landmark – Philadelphia City Hall

Yes, you read this right – Philadelphia City Hall is not just a location for administrative and legal business in Philadelphia County. It’s a true historical landmark that every Philadelphia resident and visitor should experience at least once.

Philadelphia City Hall

Constructed from 1871 to completion in 1901, Philadelphia City Hall (originally named “The New Public Building”) was the world’s tallest habitable building until surpassed by the Singer Building in 1908, and remained the tallest building in the state of Pennsylvania until 1932, when the Gulf Tower in Pittsburgh took over the title. It was designed by Scottish architect John McArthur, Jr.

Consisting of nearly 700 rooms, Philadelphia City Hall is the largest municipal building in the United States, (and one of the largest in the world). The building houses three branches of government:

  • Executive
  • Legislative
  • Judicial Branch’s Civil Courts

The building is located in Center Square at the intersections of Broad and Market Streets, in the exact geographical center of William Penn’s original 1682 plans for the city of Philadelphia.

The Statue

Philadelphia City Hall is topped by a 37-foot, 27-ton bronze statue of city founder William Penn, (one of 250 sculptures created by Alexander Milne Calder that adorn the building inside and out), and is the tallest statue atop any building in the world.

The statue’s creator originally desired that the statue would face South, so as to ensure that the statue’s face and detail would be lit by the sun for most of the day, but instead it faces northeast, looking toward Penn Treaty Park in the Fishtown section of the city, where William Penn made a treaty of friendship with the Native Americans in 1682. There are some who suspect that the reason for this may be that by the time the statue was actually placed atop the building, it was already considered to be out of style by the current architect on the project in 1894.

Penn’s statue is hollow, and a narrow access tunnel through it leads to a 22-inch-diameter hatch at the top of the hat.

Interesting fact: During the 1990s, whenever one of Philadelphia’s four major sports teams was close to winning a championship, the statue was decorated with the jersey of that team.

Gentleman’s Agreement

The original intent of the building’s designer was that Philadelphia City Hall would be the tallest structure in the world. But this was not to be, as by the time of its completion, its height had already been surpassed by the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower, which were erected during City Hall’s construction.

It remained, however, the tallest building in Philadelphia by the terms of a gentlemen’s agreement that forbade any structure from rising above the hat of the William Penn statue on the top of the building. In 1987, the gentleman’s agreement was broken when Liberty Place was completed.

The Clock Tower

On all four sides of the tower’s metal portion are massive clocks, each measuring a full 26 feet in diameter. The Philadelphia City Hall clock tower is even larger than the famous Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster.

The Observation Deck

Located directly below the base of William Penn’s statue, Philadelphia City Hall’s observation deck resides some 499 feet above street level, and affords visitors a stunning view of Philadelphia. It is accessed via a 6-person elevator which has glass panels so visitors can see the wooden superstructure inside the tower. The observation deck was at one time enclosed with chain link fence, but now uses glass enclosure for optimum viewing.

There’s so much historical significance and architectural beauty in the Philadelphia City Hall building – one can only behold such a magnificent landmark with awe and appreciation. If you have never had the chance to see this site for yourself, we highly recommend it as a must-see location.

Transportation to Philadelphia City Hall

Philadelphia Limo Services has been providing transportation services in the Philadelphia area for more than 20 years, and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to share our city’s renowned historic landmarks with residents and visitors.

We are familiar with all of the area’s traffic patterns and most reliable routes for traveling to our city’s unforgettable locations, and we invite visitors to consider our car or limousine services when touring any of these historically significant sites. Even if you don’t have any immediate plans for touring the city, you can get an easy online rate quote with no obligation whatsoever, just to see how affordable it can be to experience the history of Philadelphia – without lifting a finger.

Get your fast, simple, no-obligation rate quote here…

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A Must-See Landmark – Philadelphia City Hall

Client Testimonials

Check out what our clients have to say about their experience with us.


My company had an international artist picked up at JFK and dropped off in Philadelphia, and the artist had the best time. The driver kept in touch with me throughout the day, so we could plan for arrival, and our artist had the most wonderful experience with the driver. That’s really astounding considering our artist had just gotten off a red-eye from across the world. Thank you so very much!

Meredith S.


Our driver arrived a few minutes early, was professional, courteous and got us to the airport for our early morning flight without any problem! The car was immaculate and comfortable. I especially liked the 24 hour and 2 hour trip notification that was sent via email. It was reassuring to know they were following up. I highly recommend Corporate Sedan for any transportation needs!

Celeste C.


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