Philadelphia carries the distinction of being a crossroads of the modern with the birth of a nation. The Center City neighborhood is a wonderful example of this crossroads. Within this district are the tallest buildings, along with the museums that document the rich history of the area.
One of the finest examples of the architecture within this neighborhood is Philadelphia’s City Hall, the tallest masonry structure in the world, but also the tallest building in Philadelphia until 1987. After One Liberty Place was completed in 1987, the sports teams of Philadelphia were considered under a curse for the next two decades, dubbed the Curse of Billy Penn. Eventually, a new William Penn statue was added to the Comcast Center in 2007, as part of the now tallest building in the city.
In 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series and the curse was deemed over
There are now seven skyscrapers that top the Penn Statue in terms of height, but there are also three more buildings in the development stage.
Four countries have their diplomatic homes in this district of Philadelphia, including Italy, Panama, Israel and Mexico, taking advantage of the close proximity of Washington, D.C.
Within the area is a vast number of public and private schools, reflecting the family demographic of the neighborhood. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools has their headquarters here as well.
The neighborhood is also home to several museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Arts, National Museum of Jewish History and Independence Hall. Yet there are also other historical sites, including the Liberty Bell and the LOVE Park, which houses the huge LOVE art installation. Additionally, Jeweler’s Row can also be found within this district, comprised of more than 300 wholesalers, artisans and retailers who provide a variety of custom and traditionally designed pieces. Many of these businesses have been owned and operated by the same families for close to five generations.
The Carpenter’s Hall, built in 1775 for the oldest extant craft guild known as Carpenters’ Company of the City and County of Philadelphia, was also the site of the First Continental Congress. Additionally, it has been made a Historical Landmark and is considered part of Independence National Park.
For those who enjoy the parts of history related to Freemasons, they will love coming to Center City’s Masonic Hall. Here there are references to the legacy left behind by the Founding Fathers and signers of the Declaration of Independence, many of whom were thought to be Freemasons themselves.
The district is also home to a thriving economy, restaurants and shopping. Comcast has its headquarters here in the Comcast Center. While it is clearly a historical touch point, there are still current vibrant signs of the modern designs and ideas to be found in the newer buildings and the expanding population. Clearly, Center City is a neighborhood that embraces its historical significance without being bogged down by it. Instead, they use their historical roots to grow the modern branches of this amazing city.