I consider myself to be a Philly girl. I have spent over a decade in this metropolis, and consider it to be my home. As much time as I have spent touring the city, learning it’s history, dining out, drinking, and seeing shows of all sorts, there is always something to new to discover. Also, we aren’t always able to travel, but we are always able to discover something new in a place that is constantly changing, like my city, Philadelphia. Philly Love is a series dedicated to my trips to lesser known places in the City of Brotherly Love, or just places I like, because it is my blog.
In order to be a tourist in your own town, you should really develop a bucket list of stuff you want to do that you haven’t done yet. I constantly seek out new places, grab a million postcards at the coffee shop, or stop on my bike to write down the name of a place that I am unfamiliar with. If you have ever had to visit City Hall, walk through, or just wanted to wander around it, you may have seen that you can visit the top! This had been on my bucket list for too long, and I finally had someone to take with me, my sister.
Despite it being a dreary day, we were assured by the kind ladies in the office that the visibility at the top of the tower would be good. We paid, and climbed the maze like but clearly guided way to the elevator that would take us to the top. The ladies informed us we would have the ability to view an informative exhibition in the waiting area. You can also have the option of taking a tour of the entire building, which is a bit longer.
The exhibit gives you all kinds of information, as well as early views of the city. I learned that City Hall was founded on a place called Centre Square, which was actually a sort of well and gathering place for early Philadelphians. As our country and government grew, we needed additional space, and Centre Square was selected for the new City of Philadelphia government buildings. The design was “Old World” and cause much fuss over the years, mainly because the building was so large, took so long to build, and was so expensive. I’ve always appreciated the architecture, the fact the land is leased from the Free Masons next door, and a blog highlighting our city’s frequent hypocrisy titled, “City Hall Parking Lot”.
The most impressive thing I learned about City Hall was about the construction of William Penn. If you don’t already know about “The Philadelphia Curse”, there is plenty of documentation on that. What I am talking about though is how the statue was designed by Alexander Milne Calder, along with the 250 other sculptures that adorn the facades of the building. After the design of the William Penn statue was complete, it took years to be able to find an iron manufacturer capable of handling the casting of the 37 foot statue. Four years later, Tacony Iron Works in Northeast Philadelphia took on the job of casing the individual pieces which would make up the statue. In the meantime, the pieces were laid out in the grass areas adjacent to the Tacony Iron Works and the local children used them as jungle gyms. The William Penn statue was assembled (he is hollow) and hoisted up in 1894, at an impressive 53,348 lbs.
Our guide let the previous group out of the elevator and called out our ticket time. There was one other man, my sister, and I. We shuffled into the extremely tiny elevator, and I have been in some small ones in my day. I have a fear of heights I’m willing to swallow on some days, and this was one of them, but I could see outside of the elevator shaft, because it is a bare bones iron wrought shaft. You can see behind the clock faces that point in each cardinal direction, and you finally reach the top.
The view is worth it, even on a cloudy day.