Philadelphia City Hall

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The largest municipal building in the country, Philadelphia City Hall offers a breathtaking view of the city from its open-air observation deck.

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1400 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19107, United States

Welcome to Philadelphia City Hall, an architectural marvel and the seat of the municipal government of the City of Philadelphia, completed in 1901. This grand building, designed in the ornate Second Empire style, holds a significant place in American history and boasts impressive features, making it a must-visit destination for history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, and anyone seeking breathtaking panoramic views of the city. In this write-up, we will take you on a journey through the intriguing history, stunning architecture, and fascinating highlights of Philadelphia City Hall!

See the Best of Philadelphia on a Guided Tour!

What to Know

Philadelphia City Hall, located at 1 Penn Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. stands tall as the largest free-standing masonry building in the world. Designed by the renowned architect John McArthur Jr., along with Thomas U. Walter, its construction spanned from 1871 to 1901, resulting in a breathtaking masterpiece. The building features an impressive 548 feet-high tower topped by a 37-foot-tall bronze statue of the city founder, William Penn. 

In 1976, the site received the distinction of being designated as a National Historic Landmark. Additionally, in 2006, the American Society of Civil Engineers honored it with the title of National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The Philadelphia City Hall was also chosen as one of America's Favorite Structures by the American Institute of Architects and Harris Interactive. This selection was based on interviews conducted with AIA fellows and voting involving approximately 1,800 people.

How to Get There

Visitors can easily access Philadelphia City Hall by various means of transportation. If you're staying in downtown Philadelphia, consider booking a Guided Philadelphia Tour that includes pick-up and drop-off from your hotel, and bonus sites such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, Washington Monument Fountain, and the Liberty Bell Center.

Alternatively, public transportation options, such as buses or the subway, can efficiently take you to the heart of the city.

Best Time to Visit

Philadelphia City Hall is a year-round attraction, and the best time to visit largely depends on your preferences. Spring and fall offer pleasant weather, making it ideal for outdoor tours and exploring the surrounding Dilworth Park. Winter brings a magical atmosphere with an ice-skating rink and holiday decorations. Summer may be warmer, but it provides the opportunity to experience the city's vibrant outdoor activities.


Architect John McArthur Jr.:

Discover the genius behind the building's design, John McArthur Jr., who co-designed the grand structure in the Second Empire style.

The William Penn Statue:

Learn about the iconic 37-foot-tall bronze statue of William Penn, one of 250 sculptures created by Alexander Milne Calder that adorn the building inside and out.

Observation Deck:

Experience the breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views of Philadelphia from the glass-enclosed observation deck, located 500 feet above street level.

Interior and Exterior Tours:

Take guided tours to explore the grand interior with its ornate rooms, including the City Council Caucus Room and Mayor's Reception Room, and delve into the history of the building's construction and unique design.


Impressive Architecture:

Marvel at the exquisite Second Empire-style architecture, featuring intricate sculptures representing seasons, continents, and allegorical figures. The walls consist of brick that is adorned with white marble, and they ascend to a towering height of 337 feet above the ground.

Largest Masonry Building:

Explore the world's largest free-standing masonry building, constructed using over 88 million bricks, limestone, granite, and marble.

City Hall Tower:

Ascend the tower, once the world's tallest habitable building, to reach the glass-enclosed observation deck and admire the colossal statue of William Penn atop it.


Philadelphia City Hall's history dates back to its initial planning by William Penn in 1682 when he dedicated Center Square to public buildings. However, the present-day City Hall, designed by John McArthur Jr., saw its construction from 1871 to 1901, with its tower completed in 1894. It was originally designed to be the world's tallest building and held this title until 1908. Notably, it was the first secular building to claim this distinction.

Philadelphia City Hall, being the largest municipal building in the United States, was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Over the years, the building underwent comprehensive restoration to preserve its beauty and historical significance. Today, it continues to serve as the official seat of Philadelphia's government and remains an iconic symbol of the city's rich heritage.

Philadelphia City Hall stands tall as a testament to the city's rich history, architectural prowess, and civic pride. Its grandeur, remarkable design, and captivating history make it an enchanting destination for visitors from all around the world. From the stunning observation deck to the intricate sculptures adorning its façade, every aspect of City Hall tells a story of Philadelphia's enduring legacy. So, whether you're an architecture enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking stunning views, don't miss the chance to experience the wonders of Philadelphia City Hall. Visit this magnificent landmark whenever you visit Philadelphia and immerse yourself in the beauty and grandeur of one of America's most significant public buildings.