Philadelphia City Hall

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Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall - 2.jpg
Northwest corner from JFK Plaza, 2012
Philadelphia City Hall is located in Philadelphia
Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall is located in Pennsylvania
Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall is located in the US
Philadelphia City Hall
Philadelphia City Hall
Location within Philadelphia
Record height
Tallest in the world from 1894 to 1908[I]
Preceded by Ulm Minster
Surpassed by Singer Building
General information
Status Complete
Location 1 Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA
Completed 1901
Height
Antenna spire 548 ft (167 m)
Technical details
Floor count 9
Philadelphia City Hall
City Hall Philadelphia.jpg
Philadelphia City Hall c1899
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 39°57′8.62″N 75°9′48.95″W / 39.9523944°N 75.1635972°W / 39.9523944; -75.1635972Coordinates: 39°57′8.62″N 75°9′48.95″W / 39.9523944°N 75.1635972°W / 39.9523944; -75.1635972
Area 630,000 ft² (58,222 m²)[2]
Built 1871–1901
Architect John McArthur, Jr.
Thomas U. Walter
Architectural style Second Empire, other
NRHP reference # 76001666[1]
Added to NRHP December 8, 1976

Philadelphia City Hall is the seat of government for the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The building was constructed from 1871 to 1901 within Penn Square, in the middle of Center City. John McArthur Jr. designed the building in the Second Empire style. City Hall is a masonry building whose weight is borne by granite and brick walls up to 22 ft (6.7 m) thick. The principal exterior materials are limestone, granite, and marble, the final construction cost was $24 million.

At 548 ft (167 m), including the statue of city founder William Penn atop its tower, City Hall was the tallest habitable building in the world from 1894 to 1908. It remained the tallest in Pennsylvania until it was surpassed in 1932 by the Gulf Tower in Pittsburgh, it was the tallest in Philadelphia until 1986 when the construction of One Liberty Place surpassed it, ending the informal gentlemen's agreement that had limited the height of buildings in the city to no higher than the Penn statue.

In 1976, City Hall was designated a National Historic Landmark.

History and description[edit]

Under construction, 1881

The building was designed by Scottish-born architect John McArthur Jr., in the Second Empire style, and was constructed from 1871 to 1901 at a cost of $24 million. City Hall's tower was completed by 1894,[3] although the interior wasn't finished until 1901. Designed to be the world's tallest building, it was surpassed during construction by the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower. Upon completion of its tower in 1894, it became the world's tallest habitable building,[4][5] it was also the first secular building to have this distinction, as all previous world's tallest buildings were religious structures, including European cathedrals and—for the previous 3,800 years—the Great Pyramid of Giza.

With almost 700 rooms, City Hall is the world's largest municipal building,[6] the building houses three branches of government: the city's executive branch (the Mayor's Office), its legislature (the Philadelphia City Council), and a substantial portion of the judicial activity in the city (the Civil Division and Orphan's Court of the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas for the First Judicial District are housed there, as well as chambers for some criminal judges and some judges of the Philadelphia Municipal Court).

The tower features clocks 26 ft (7.9 m) in diameter on all four sides of the metal portion of the tower (larger than the Clock Tower, Palace of Westminster).[7] This clock was designed by Warren Johnson.[citation needed]

City Hall's observation deck is located directly below the base of the statue, about 500 ft (150 m) above street level. Once enclosed with chain-link fencing, the observation deck is now enclosed by glass, it is reached in a 6-person elevator whose glass panels allow visitors to see the interior of the iron superstructure that caps the tower and supports the statuary and clocks. Stairs within the tower are only used for emergency exit, the ornamentation of the tower has been simplified; the huge garlands that festooned the top panels of the tower were removed.

In the 1950s, the city council investigated tearing down City Hall for a new building elsewhere, they found that the demolition would have bankrupted the city due to the building's masonry construction.

Beginning in 1992, Philadelphia City Hall underwent a comprehensive exterior restoration, planned and supervised by the Historical Preservation Studio of Vitetta Architects & Engineers, headed by renowned historical preservation architect Hyman Myers.[8] The majority of the restoration was completed by 2007, although some work has continued, including the installation of four new ornamental courtyard gates, based on an original architectural sketch, in December, 2015.[9][10][11]

City Hall became a National Historic Landmark in 1976; in 2006, it was also named a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.[12]

William Penn statue[edit]

William Penn statue on the ground

The building is topped by a 37 ft (11 m) bronze statue weighing 53,348 lb (24,198 kg)[3] of city founder William Penn, one of 250 sculptures created by Alexander Milne Calder that adorn the building inside and out. The statue was cast at the Tacony Iron Works of Northeast Philadelphia and hoisted to the top of the tower in fourteen sections in 1894,[3] the statue is the tallest atop any building in the world.[3][13] Despite its lofty perch, the city has mandated that the statue be cleaned about every ten years to remove corrosion and reduce deterioration due to weathering, with the latest cleaning done in May 2017.[13] Penn's statue is hollow, and a narrow access tunnel through it leads to a 22-inch-diameter (56 cm) hatch atop the hat.[14]

Calder wished the statue to face south so that its face would be lit by the sun most of the day, the better to reveal the details of his work, the statue actually faces northeast, towards Penn Treaty Park in the Fishtown section of the city, which commemorates the site where William Penn signed a treaty with the local Native Americans tribe.[15] Beyond Penn Treaty Park is Pennsbury Manor, Penn's country home in Bucks County. Yet another version for why the statue pointed generally north instead of south is that it was the current architect's method of showing displeasure with the style of the work. By 1894, the statue's design was not in the current, popular Beaux-Arts style and was considered out-of-date even before it was placed on top of the building.[citation needed]

By the terms of a gentlemen's agreement that forbade any structure from rising above the hat on the William Penn statue, Philadelphia City Hall remained the tallest building in the city until it was surpassed by One Liberty Place in 1986.[16] The abrogation of this agreement supposedly brought a curse onto local sports teams.

During the 1990s, whenever one of Philadelphia's four major sports teams was in contention for a championship, the statue was decorated with the jersey or hat of that team.

Notable facts[edit]

City Hall is a masonry structure with load-bearing walls up to 22 feet (6.7 m) thick. The principal exterior materials are limestone, granite, and marble, the only structural and exterior metallic parts of the building are the upper portion of the clock tower and the bronze statuary.

City Hall was the tallest habitable building in the world from 1894 to 1908, measuring 548 ft (167 m) to the top of the statue of William Penn.[17] It is the 16th-tallest building in Pennsylvania, and was the tallest building in the state from 1894 until 1932 when it was surpassed by the Gulf Tower in Pittsburgh,[18] it was the tallest building in Philadelphia from 1894 until 1986[16] when One Liberty Place ended the gentlemen's agreement which had limited building heights to no higher than William Penn's hat.

The tallest statue atop any building in the world is the 37 ft (11 m) tall statue of William Penn, sculpted by Alexander Milne Calder.[19] Approximately 88 million bricks and several thousand tons of stone were used in construction.[18] There are four bronze eagles, each weighing three tons with 12 ft (3.7 m) wingspans, perched above the tower's four clocks.[18] The building was voted #21 on the American Institute of Architects' list of Americans' 150 favorite U.S. structures in 2007.[20]

Centre Square[edit]

The lot that City Hall is built on was originally a public square upon the city's founding in 1682. Originally known as Centre Square—later renamed Penn Square—it was used for public gatherings until the construction of City Hall began in 1871. Centre Square was one of the five original squares of Philadelphia laid out on the city grid by William Penn, the square had been located at the geographic center of Penn's city plan, but the Act of Consolidation in 1854 created the much larger and coterminous city and county of Philadelphia.[21] Though no longer at the exact center of the city, the square remains situated in the center of the historic area between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers; an area which is now called Center City.

Penn had intended that Centre Square be the central focus point where the major public buildings would be located, including those for government, religion, and education, as well as the central marketplace. However, the Delaware riverfront would remain the de facto economic and social heart of the city for more than a century.[22][23]

In 2014, the west side of the original square along 15th Street was partially returned to green space after a renovation, and is now called Dilworth Park.

Film appearances[edit]

City Hall has been a filming location for several motion pictures including:[24]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Note[edit]

I Philadelphia City Hall was the tallest habitable building in the world from the time its tower was topped out in 1894[3] until 1908 when surpassed by the Singer Building. City Hall had already been occupied by the mayor[4] and courts prior to 1894.[5] Though it was surpassed during its construction by the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower, and is slightly lower by about 0.5 m (1 ft 8 in), than the Mole Antonelliana (completed in 1889),[25][26] none of those three structures are considered habitable buildings.

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ National Park Service (2006-03-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Philadelphia City Hall". Retrieved 12 November 2016.  Technical specs of City Hall
  3. ^ a b c d e "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form". National Park Service. page 10. Retrieved November 9, 2017. "The statue was … hoisted to the top of the tower in fourteen sections in 1894."
  4. ^ a b ""History of City Hall: 1886-1890". (archive) Retrieved November 9, 2017. "1889: Mayor Fitler moves into completed offices on west side."
  5. ^ a b "History of City Hall: 1891-1901". (archive) Retrieved November 9, 2017. "1891: State Supreme Court opens in permanent courtroom."
  6. ^ "Philadelphia City Hall, Philadelphia". Emporis. 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2011. 
  7. ^ "City Hall Virtual Tour". 
  8. ^ Fish, Larry (April 15, 1999). "City Hall Sets Up Eight-year Plan To Clean Up Its Act $130 Million Project To Restore Building's Luster". philly.com. Philadelphia Media Network (Digital), LLC. Archived from the original on March 11, 2016. Retrieved February 17, 2016. 
  9. ^ Adams, Jennifer (2012). "Reviving A National Landmark". Retrieved February 17, 2016. 
  10. ^ Marsh, Bill (July 25, 2006). "People Stop Fighting Philadelphia City Hall". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved February 17, 2016. 
  11. ^ Harris, Linda K. (September 9, 2015). "First of Four Monumental Portal Gates Installed at City Hall". centercityphila.org. Center City District | Central Philadelphia Development Corporation | Center City District Foundation. Archived from the original on February 11, 2016. Retrieved February 17, 2016. 
  12. ^ "asce_news_Philadelphia City Hall Named as Historic Landmark". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-04-03. 
  13. ^ a b "William Penn Is Getting a Facelift" (archive). by Joe Trinacria. May 17, 2017. phillymag.com. Philadelphia Magazine. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  14. ^ "William Penn Statue". (archive) Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  15. ^ Hornblum, Allen M. (2003). Philadelphia's City Hall. Arcadia Publishing. p. 63. 
  16. ^ a b "Billy Penn no Longer the High Spot". The Philadelphia Inquirer. September 11, 1986. pp. B01. 
  17. ^ Bacharach, Barak (2016). "History of the world's tallest buildings (until 1931)". www.skysaver.com. Retrieved October 30, 2017. 
  18. ^ a b c "Philadelphia City Hall". www.emporis.com. Retrieved October 30, 2017. 
  19. ^ "William Penn Statue - A Bronze Sculpture, Over 37 Feet High and 53,000 Pounds". www.enjoyingphiladelphia.com. 2017. Retrieved October 30, 2017. 
  20. ^ Other Philadelphia buildings on the list included the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Fisher Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania, 30th Street Station, and Wanamaker's department store."America's Favorite Architecture". (February 9, 2005). American Institute of Architects. Retrieved April 23, 2014
  21. ^ "Philadelphia Parks – William Penn Historic Philadelphia Squares Oases". fishtownonline. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. 
  22. ^ Weigley, RF; et al. (1982). Philadelphia: A 300-Year History. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-01610-2. …hardly anyone lived west of Fourth Street before 1703 … Not until the mid-nineteenth century … was the Schuylkill waterfront fully developed. Nor was Centre Square restored as the heart of Philadelphia until the construction of City Hall began in 1871. 
  23. ^ "Centre Square: The heart of Philadelphia" (archive). by John Kopp. May 8, 2017. phillyvoice.com. Philly Voice - WWB Holdings, LLC. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  24. ^ "Filmed in Philadelphia: 25 movies that give Philly locations a silver screen spotlight". www.pennlive.com. March 21, 2017. Retrieved November 11, 2017. 
  25. ^ "Mole Antonelliana". museocinema.it. Museo Nazionale del Cinema. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  26. ^ "Mole Antonelliana". emporis.com. Emporis Gmbh. Retrieved November 12, 2017.

Further reading

  • Gurney, George, Sculpture of a City—Philadelphia's Treasures in Bronze and Stone, Fairmount Park Association, Walker Publishing Co., Inc., New York, NY, 1974.
  • Hayes, Margaret Calder, Three Alexander Calders: A Family Memoir by Margaret Calder Hayes, Paul S. Eriksson, publisher, Middlebury, Vermont, 1977.
  • Lewis, Michael J. "‘Silent, Weird, Beautiful’: Philadelphia City Hall," Nineteenth Century, vol. 11, nos. 3 and 4 (1992), pp. 13–21

External links[edit]