Google Philadelphia and you’ll see a whole host of topics covering Philly Cheese Steak, the Liberty Bell, and something quite stunning and equally notable, the city’s majestic architecture. Philadelphia is said to be founded in 1682 by William Penn, before which it was inhabited by Swedish settlers and Native Americans.
King Charles II owed a debt to Penn’s father and so transferred ownership of present-day Pennsylvania and Delaware. The city takes credit for being an important part of the colonies considering it was the capital of the United States after the revolution.
For much of the 17th century most structures in the city were built by logs, the Georgian and Federal style brick buildings we see today appeared closer to the 18th century. Of course, we also see the Greek revival in the first half of the 19th century from well known architects like John Haviland who also designed the Eastern State Penitentiary.
By far the most popular attraction when seeing the city’s architecture is the City Hall Building which was constructed in 1901 at a cost of $24 million ($710 Million in today’s dollars). The perfect point to enter is from Broad St, the North side of the building where you’re met with this magnificent view of the interior.
Passing through to the other side you find the clock tower overlooking the courtyard.
The tower as part of City Hall was the tallest habitable building in the world from 1894 to 1908. An informal gentleman’s agreement allowed it to remain the tallest structure within the state until 1932 when the Gulf Tower in Pittsburgh (underwhelmingly named after the Gulf Oil Corporation) took the title.
There are other iconic structures which grace the city, including The Rotunda Building | Ritz-Carlton located at the corner of Walnut and S 40th St.
Originally built for the First Church of Christ Scientist in 1911, the building is a beautiful reproduction of the Pantheon in Rome. It passed ownership through institutions including the University of Pennsylvania turning it into a venue for the arts and facilitating diversity of cultural experiences. The Rotunda hosted many artists including John Legend in the main room. At the time of writing the space known as The Sanctuary was not available for booking events which is the room giving The Rotunda it’s name.
Of course, not everything was built centuries ago. The One Liberty Place skyscrapers prominently stand out when walking north on S 16th Street.
The skyscrapers host a shopping mall, hotel, condominium place, spa, gourmet restaurants and the list goes on.
Downtown Philadelphia is compact but there’s no shortage of structural art keeping your eyes distracted. Our AirBnB was located minutes outside of downtown where the price of rent drops drastically. Driving into the city can take a lot of time if it’s rush hour, yet it’s visible just over the bridge – you can easily drive through in a very short amount of time when there’s no traffic.The heart of Philadelphia is just 5.361 km² compared to 59.1 km² Manhattan; yet it feels like you are deep inside a massive metropolitan city. Because of that you have lots and lots of places to explore, and that’s no understatement. In the next article I will cover some of those places and sightseeing locations when traveling to this beautiful city.