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June 21, 2005
it was designed to be the tallest building in the world. Unfortunately the 30 years it took to construct it allowed two building to be built taller, the Eiffel Tower and the Washington Monument. It did remain the tallest occupied building in the world until 1908. From the ground to the top of William Penn’s hat it measures 548 feet. It wasn’t until 1987 that a building in Philadelphia was constructed taller than the Town Hall and all the buildings that are taller are built so that William Penn can’t see them. This statue of William Penn is the tallest statue on any building in the world.
There are over 700 rooms in Town Hall but the one that you need to worry about is 121. This is where you gather to take the tour that is offered everyday at 12:30. It is also where you need to go to get a ticket to one of the tours to the observation deck. These run every 15 minutes. The elevator is very small, we actually fit eight people in but they usually only allow groups of five. We didn’t have tickets, we just took our chances and luckily Burt, our Municipal Guard let us join the official visitors. It never hurts to schmooze. If however you are visiting during the summer months, you need to call at 9am and ask them to reserve tickets for you.
To get to the observation deck take the elevator to the seventh floor. Look for the red line
and follow it to the ticket desk. It is a lengthy walk that involves stairs and an escalator. You then board a very claustrophobic elevator. When you get off walk around the corner and step out onto the enclosed observation deck. The views are outstanding. You can look all the way west up Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum
and on the other side all the way down Market Street. The river is visible as is the bridge to New Jersey. Amazing is hardly enough of an expletive to describe the sensation. Irene doesn’t like heights and it bothered her a bit to be up so high but I got an adrenaline rush. This is well worth the effort.
Take the time to visit in room 121, as there is a lot of information to be had there. I found some brochures and ideas on places to visit that I found nowhere else.
From journal Phlashing in Philly
by Jose Kevo
June 14, 2005
America's most grand and elegant city hall characterizes The Pride of Philadelphia, and, until recently, an ordinance prohibited any building to rise higher than the 37-foot statue of William Penn thath caps the main tower. Philadelphia finally got their skyline, and one of the best places for enjoying it has finally caught on.
At base of the Penn statue is a small, enclosed observation deck with panoramas that rival the Empire State Building. Before 2000, it was possible to wander in, leisurely browse the small museum featuring the building's affluence, and then have endless viewing time in the tower. Growth in tourism has justified timed-guided tours that are still well worth the effort.
From either the northwest or northeast entries, elevators run to the seventh floor. Exit and follow the colored line to the escalator, which, unfortunately, was broken down during this last visit. There's also an official City Hall tour, but freely roaming around the building with no security checks is also possible. Cavernous hallways formulate the aged sterility of public facilities. Desks and outdated office equipment are stacked in halls while ongoing renovations could never erase the epoch.
Most every Philadelphia-based production has familiarized this icon, but what's found taking place on any given day surpasses any script. Attorneys argue outside of courtrooms, and beyond open doors are large offices where everyone works in silence. A series of halls and stairs connect all floors on the four wings around a collection of interior walkways and courtyards. Poking my head out open windows along the interior hallways, like a high-school rebel without a hall pass, an intriguing view of a turret eclipsed by the tower and Penn statue was worth a photo. Positioned on the floor ready to focus, a young bailiff passed with a scolding for taking pictures. Turned out, the only problem was I hadn't first gotten a clearance pass in ROOM 702 for taking photos.
Free City Hall Tours
Reservations can be made by calling 215/686-9074 or by stopping by the small tourism bureau in ROOM 121 on the centralized corridor walkway that connects Market Street. Observation deck tours run every 15 minutes, from 9:30am to 4:30pm on weekdays. An in-depth City Hall tour, which includes the tower, departs at 12:30pm. They can't accommodate large groups and book tours for 15 people or less. Reservations are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
* Aside from the observation deck, don't miss the rotunda stairwell in the southeast corner.
* Public restrooms are located throughout the building.
From journal FREEDOM - An Escape Artist in Philly