Philadelphia's City Hall is the tallest and largest city hall in the United States, not to mention the most expensive. The central tower stands at 511 feet, on top of which is a 37-foot-tall statue of William Penn, the founder of the city. The statue itself weighs 27 tons, making it the largest statue on any building in the world. Until the construction of One Liberty Place in 1987, City Hall remained the tallest building in all of Philadelphia. Although builders failed to make it the tallest building in the world after the construction of the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower, it became the tallest masonry building after the collapse of the pinnacle of the Mole Antonelliana in Turin.
The building has over 600 rooms, many of which are richly decorated with features like red marble columns and chandeliers. The building is covered with 250 sculptures inside and out (including the massive statue of William Penn), all completed by artist Alexander Milne Calder. The statues represent various themes, including the seasons, the continents, and allegorical figures. Inside the north portico, guests will see a bronze plaque of William Penn's Prayer for Philadelphia, written in 1683 before he left for England.
Instead of steel framing, the first floor of City Hall has walls that are as thick as 22 feet to support the upper levels of the building. Although City Hall appears to have only three floors from the outside, the building actually contains eight floors, each 16 feet high. As if the building itself wasn't impressive enough, each of the four sides of the large central tower has a massive clock 8 meters in diameter. The entire setup took 30 years to complete and a whopping $24 million!
William Penn Statue on Top of City Hall Photo: Paul J Everett
City Hall also features the only observation deck in the city that is accessible to the public. Located directly below Penn's statue, the deck provides an amazing view of the City of Brotherly Love. To reach the deck, visitors ride a 6-person elevator with glass panels that allow visitors to see the interior structure of the tower. Unfortunately, the tower does not provide handicap access, nor is the elevator ride suitable for claustrophobic guests. For climate reasons, it's best to visit the tower during the spring and fall months, but if you must go during the summer then try to visit early in the morning. The tower does have a staircase but it is reserved for emergency situations.
City Hall is located on the corner of Broad and Market Streets. Guided tours of the building are available Monday through Friday at 12:30 PM. The observation deck is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9:30 AM to 4:15 PM. If you would like to take a tour of this spectacular building or see an amazing view of the city, please go immediately to Room 121 upon your next visit. Whether you enjoy history, architecture, fine art, or interior decorating, be sure to bring a camera- you do not want to miss out on photos of this incredible attraction.