Philadelphia City Hall

The William Penn statue atop City Hall. Credit: James Mitchell via Wikipedia

Looking Back at the Former Proposal to Make the Statue of William Penn Atop City Hall Revolve

The 37-foot-tall statue of William Penn atop the City Hall clock tower brings the structure to a full height of 548 feet. As YIMBY discussed in yesterday’s story, the intended south-facing direction of the statue, crafted by sculptor Alexander Milne Calder, was changed at the last minute, and for nearly 127 years the figure has faced northeast. In this feature, Philadelphia YIMBY looks back at the onetime proposal to have the statue revolve around its axis so it could gaze upon the entire city.

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The William Penn statue atop City Hall. Photo by Thomas Koloski

Looking Back at the Originally Intended Placement of the Statue of William Penn atop City Hall

The statue of William Penn has stood at the very top of Philadelphia City Hall in Center City for well over a hundred years, facing northeast. The large figure of the Quaker was crafted by sculptor Alexander Milne Calder, who also produced the smaller statues just above the clock house and around the entire building. The 548-foot-tall Philadelphia City Hall was designed by John McArthur Jr. and Thomas Ustick Walter, renown architects of their time. In this feature, Philadelphia YIMBY takes a look back at the original southern direction the statue was supposed to face and at the subsequent change.

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Philadelphia City Hall 1910. Photo via shorpy.com

Looking at the Construction of Philadelphia City Hall’s Clock Tower

At the time of construction, Philadelphia City Hall at 1400 John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Center City was a building that was both ahead of its time and inspired by traditional design. The municipal floors and the clock tower feature stone walls, cornices, pillars, and decorative additions that brought the public to awe. The 548-foot structure was designed by John McArthur Jr. and Thomas Ustick Walter, who have both worked on other well-known buildings. John McArthur Jr. designed the First National Bank, and Thomas Ustick Walter designed the new and current dome of the Capital Building in Washington D.C. While the highest space in the building sits nine floors above ground, the clock tower stands hundreds of feet tall and was constructed just after the municipal floors. Today Philadelphia YIMBY looks at the construction of the clock tower, which ranks as the world’s tallest freestanding masonry building.

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Philadelphia City Hall. Photo by Thomas Koloski

Looking at Philadelphia City Hall in Center City

The Philadelphia City Hall, located at 1400 John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Center City, is an astonishing 548-foot tall structure that was completed in 1901 (though occupation first started in 1877) at the intersection of Market Street and Broad Street. The nine-story structure is the world’s tallest freestanding masonry building and has a lovely Second Empire style architecture (also known as Napoleon III style), with the municipal floors and the clock tower decked out with decorative cornices and pillars. The building was designed by John McArthur Jr. and Thomas Ustick Walter. McArthur has also designed the First National Bank and Walter was the fourth architect of the Capitol building in Washington DC, having designed the Capitol dome on top of the Capitol Building.

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