Alexander McFadden, Testamentary Trust – The Philadelphia Company. Philadelphia’s architectural history dates back to Colonial times and includes a wide range of styles. The earliest structures were of logs construction, but brick structures were common by 1700. During the 18th century, the cityscape was dominated by Georgian architecture, including Independence Hall and Christ Church.
In the first decades of the 19th century, Federal architecture and Greek Revival architecture were dominated by Philadelphia architects such as Benjamin Latrobe, William Strickland, John Haviland, John Notman, Thomas U. Walter, and Samuel Sloan. Frank Furness is considered Philadelphia’s greatest architect of the second half of the 19th century, but his contemporaries included John McArthur, Jr., Addison Hutton, Wilson Eyre, the Wilson Brothers, and Horace Trumbauer. In 1871, construction began on the Second Empire-style Philadelphia City Hall. The Philadelphia Historical Commission was created in 1955 to preserve the cultural and architectural history of the city. The commission maintains the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, adding historic buildings, structures, sites, objects and districts as it sees fit.
In 1932, Philadelphia became home to the first International Style skyscraper in the United States, The PSFS Building, designed by George Howe and William Lescaze. It is the United States’ first modern skyscraper and considered the most important one built in the first part of the 20th century.
The 548 ft (167 m) City Hall remained the tallest building in the city until 1987 when One Liberty Place was constructed. Numerous glass and granite skyscrapers were built from the late 1980s onwards. In 2007, the Comcast Center surpassed One Liberty Place to become the city’s tallest building and make Philadelphia one of only four American cities with two or more buildings over 900 feet (270 m); the other cities being New York, Houston, and Chicago.
For much of Philadelphia’s history, the typical home has been the row house. The row house was introduced to the United States via Philadelphia in the early 19th century and, for a time, row houses built elsewhere in the United States were known as “Philadelphia rows”. A variety of row houses are found throughout the city, from Victorian-style homes in North Philadelphia to twin row houses in West Philadelphia. While newer homes are scattered throughout the city, much of the housing is from the early 20th century or older. The great age of the homes has created numerous problems, including blight and vacant lots in many parts of the city, while other neighborhoods such as Society Hill, which has the largest concentration of 18th-century architecture in the United States, have been rehabilitated and gentrified.
The total parkland amounts to about 10,334 acres (41.82 km2). Philadelphia’s largest park, Fairmount Park, encompasses 9,200 acres (37 km2) of this parkland and includes 63 neighborhood and regional parks. The largest tract of Fairmount Park is on the west side of the city along the Schuylkill River and Wissahickon Creek and includes the Philadelphia Zoo.
Culture of Philadelphia, Cultural depictions of Philadelphia, List of people from Philadelphia, and List of sites of interest in Philadelphia
Philadelphia is home to many national historical sites that relate to the founding of the United States. Independence National Historical Park is the center of these historical landmarks. Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the Liberty Bell are the city’s most famous attractions. Other historic sites include homes for Edgar Allan Poe, Betsy Ross, and Thaddeus Kosciuszko, early government buildings like the First and Second Banks of the United States, Fort Mifflin, and the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church.
Philadelphia’s major science museums include the Franklin Institute, which contains the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Mütter Museum, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. History museums include the National Constitution Center, the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia History, the National Museum of American Jewish History, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the state of Pennsylvania and The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania and Eastern State Penitentiary. Philadelphia is home to the United States’ first zoo and hospital, as well as Fairmount Park, one of America’s oldest and largest urban parks.
The city is home to important archival repositories, including the Library Company of Philadelphia, established in 1731, and the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, founded in 1814. The Presbyterian Historical Society, the country’s oldest continuous denominational historical society, is also located there.
The Philadelphia dialect, though with many unique features, shares many similarities with the New York accent. Thanks to over a century of linguistics data collected by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia dialect is one of the best-studied forms of American English.
The city contains many art museums, such as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Rodin Museum, which holds the largest collection of work by Auguste Rodin outside of France. The city’s major art museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is one of the largest art museums in the United States. Its long flight of steps to the main entrance became famous after the film Rocky (1976).
The city is home to the Philadelphia Sketch Club, one of the country’s oldest artists’ clubs, and the Plastic Club, started by women excluded from the Sketch Club. It has a profusion of art galleries, many of which participate in the First Friday event. The first Friday of every month, galleries in Old City are open late. Annual events include film festivals and parades, the most famous being the New Year’s Day Mummers Parade.
Areas such as South Street and Old City have a vibrant night life. The Avenue of the Arts in Center City contains many restaurants and theaters, such as the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which is home to the Philadelphia Orchestra, generally considered one of the top five orchestras in the United States, and the Academy of Music, the nation’s oldest continually operating opera house, home to the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet. The Wilma Theatre and Philadelphia Theatre Company have new buildings constructed in the last decade on the avenue. They produce a variety of new works. Several blocks to the east are the Walnut Street Theatre, America’s oldest theatre and the largest subscription theater in the world, as well as the Lantern Theatre at St. Stephens Church, one of a number of smaller venues.
Philadelphia has more public art than any other American city. In 1872, the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) was created, the first private association in the United States dedicated to integrating public art and urban planning. In 1959, lobbying by the Artists Equity Association helped create the Percent for Art ordinance, the first for a U.S. city. The program, which has funded more than 200 pieces of public art, is administered by the Philadelphia Office of Arts and Culture, the city’s art agency.
Philadelphia has more murals than any other U.S. city, thanks in part to the 1984 creation of the Department of Recreation’s Mural Arts Program, which seeks to beautify neighborhoods and provide an outlet for graffiti artists. The program has funded more than 2,800 murals by professional, staff and volunteer artists and educated more than 20,000 youth in underserved neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.
Philadelphia artists have had a prominent national role in popular music. In the 1970s, Philadelphia soul influenced the music of that and later eras. On July 13, 1985, Philadelphia hosted the American end of the Live Aid concert at John F. Kennedy Stadium. The city reprised this role for the Live 8 concert, bringing some 700,000 people to the Ben Franklin Parkway on July 2, 2005. Philadelphia is home to the world-renowned Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale, which has performed its music all over the world. Dr. Robert G. Hamilton, founder of the choir, is a notable native Philadelphian. The Philly Pops is another famous Philadelphia music group. The city has played a major role in the development and support of American rock music and rap music. Hip-hop/Rap artists such as The Roots, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, The Goats, Freeway, Schoolly D, Eve, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes hail from the city.
- Welcome to Philadelphia (apartmentguide.com)
- Roundup: Our Top Picks For Affordable Attractions In Philadelphia (uwishunu.com)
- Weekend Picks: St. Patrick’s Day Festivities, Opening Weekend Of The Art of Golf At The Philadelphia Museum Of Art, Free Admission At Eastern State Penitentiary And More (uwishunu.com)
- Positively Philadelphia: Fairmount Park’s “Little Jewels” (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- Why Philadelphia really is a big cheese (telegraph.co.uk)
- History-related summer camps (historymattersforkids.com)
- Roundup: Our Picks For The Best Of British Philadelphia, Including The Britain-Inspired 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show (uwishunu.com)