City Hall

The largest municipal building in the country and the finest example of the Second Empire style

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Philadelphia City Hall

Credit: J. Smith for GPTMC

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The Experience

City Hall is the largest municipal building in the United States, containing over 14.5 acres of floor space. It is an architectural treasure inside and out. The public rooms are among the most lavish in the City. The City Council Chamber, the Mayor’s Reception Room, Conversation Hall and the Supreme Court Room are the most ornate.

The exterior is covered with sculpture representing the seasons and continents, as well as allegorical figures, heads and masks. All of the sculpture was designed by Alexander Milne Calder, including the 27-ton statue of William Penn atop the tower. The tower was the tallest building in Philadelphia until 1987. Its observation deck, which is open to the public, provides a panoramic view of the city.

History

In his original 1682 design for the city, William Penn set aside the Center Square for public buildings, but it took 200 years before the square was used for that purpose. The first City Hall was located at 2nd and Market streets, then moved to 5th and Chestnut streets when the Independence Hall complex was built.

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featured artwork

Oldenburg’s Clothespin outside City Hall
Government of the People by Jacques Lipchitz
William Penn stands on top of City Hall