Center City, Philadelphia

Map of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania highlighting the City of Philadelphia prior to the Act of Consolidation, 1854

Center City includes the central business district and central neighborhoods of Philadelphia, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It comprises the area that made up the City of Philadelphia prior to the Act of Consolidation, 1854 which extended the city borders to be coterminous with Philadelphia County. Greater Center City has grown into the second-most densely populated downtown area in the United States, after Midtown Manhattan in New York City, with an estimated 173,284 residents in 2010.



Schuylkill Expressway near Center City
In 1973, I-76 was routed onto Vine Street. In 2019, I-676 is routed onto the former I-76 routing as the Vine Street Expressway.

Center City is bounded by South Street to the south, the Delaware River to the east, the Schuylkill River to the west, and Vine Street to the north. This means that Center City occupies the boundaries of the city before it was made coterminous with Philadelphia County in 1854. The Center City District, which has special powers of taxation, has a complicated, irregularly shaped boundary that includes much but not all of this area, and also extends beyond it. The Philadelphia Police Department patrols three districts located within Center City – the 6th, 9th, 3rd and 17th districts.

Neighborhood features

Among Center City's neighborhoods and districts are Penn's Landing, Old City, Society Hill, South Street, Washington Square West, Market East, Chinatown, Logan Square, the Museum District (located along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway), Rittenhouse Square, Fitler Square, the Avenue of the Arts (South Broad Street), and Jewelers' Row.

The Philadelphia City Hall in Center City

Center City is home to most of Philadelphia's tallest buildings, including Philadelphia's City Hall, the second tallest masonry building in the world and until 1987 the tallest in Philadelphia, as well as the tallest building in the world for seven years. In March 1987, One Liberty Place broke the gentlemen's agreement not to exceed the height of the statue of William Penn atop City Hall. Upon the completion of One Liberty Place, no Philadelphia major-league sports team won a world championship for the next two decades, a phenomenon known as the "Curse of Billy Penn." In an effort to reverse the curse, a 3-foot statue of Penn was affixed to the top of the Comcast Center upon its completion as the city's new tallest building in 2007. On October 29, 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series, ending the "curse"

Logan Circle
Center City at night

Seven other skyscrapers now exceed the height of Penn's statue, including One Liberty Place's little sister, Two Liberty Place. The Comcast Center, which was completed in 2007, became the tallest building in Pennsylvania, 30 feet taller than One Liberty Place. In 2018, the Comcast Technology Center opened, which is now the tallest building in Philadelphia, the eighth-tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the tallest in the Western Hemisphere outside of New York or Chicago. 1441 Chestnut, which is currently under construction, is also slated to be taller than City Hall. The first publicly accessible vantage point higher than City Hall opened at One Liberty Observation Deck on the 57th floor of One Liberty Place in 2015.

Other Center City skyscrapers include the BNY Mellon Center and the Three Logan Square, which houses a traffic camera used by the Philadelphia branch of the Westwood One MetroNetworks traffic service.

Across the street from City Hall is the Masonic Temple, the headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, a legacy of the Founding Fathers and signers of the Declaration of Independence, many of whom were Freemasons; these include George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

While Philadelphia's population declined, Center City's rose 10% between 1990 and 2000.

In 2007, the city designated the area bound by 11th Street, Broad Street, Chestnut Street and Pine Street as the Gayborhood.



Comcast Center

Sunoco has its headquarters in the BNY Mellon Center. Cigna has its corporate headquarters in Two Liberty Place. Aramark is headquartered in Center City. Comcast is headquartered in the Comcast Center. The law firm Cozen O'Connor has its headquarters in Center City. Kogan Page has its United States offices in Center City.

Lincoln National Corporation moved its headquarters from Indiana to Philadelphia in 1999. In Philadelphia Lincoln was headquartered in the West Tower of Centre Square in Center City. In 2007 the company moved 400 employees, including its top executives, to Radnor Township from Philadelphia.

Government and infrastructure


The U.S. Custom House in Old City

The Philadelphia Fire Department operates 5 Fire Stations in the Center City area :

  • Engine 1, Ladder 5, Medic 35, Battalion 1 - 711 S. Broad St.
  • Snorkel 2, Medic 44B, Battalion 4, Field Comm. Unit 1 - 101 N. 4th St.
  • Engine 11, Medic 21 - 601 South St.
  • Pipeline 20, Ladder 23, Medic 1 - 133 N. 10th St.
  • Squirt 43, Ladder 9, Medic 7 - 2108 Market St.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons Northeast Region Office is in the U.S. Custom House, a part of the Independence National Historical Park, in Old City, Center City.

The William J. Green Jr. Federal Building houses the Federal Bureau of Investigation Philadelphia Field Office.

Diplomats' offices/Consulates

The Consulate-General of Italy in Philadelphia is located in the 1026 Public Ledger Building at 150 South Independence Mall West. The Consulate-General of Panama in Philadelphia is located in Suite 1 at 124 Chestnut Street. The Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia is located in Suite 310 of the Bourse Building off of Independence Mall.

The Consulate-General of the Dominican Republic in Philadelphia was located in Suite 216 in the Lafayette Building at 437 Chestnut Street. It closed on November 7, 2005. The Consulate-General of Israel in Philadelphia was located on the 18th Floor at 1880 John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Israel closed the Philadelphia consulate in 2016.


Public schools

School District of Philadelphia

Residents are within the School District of Philadelphia.

From the 1940s to the opening of what is now known as the Greenfield School in 1954, many residents attended public schools in other areas and private schools due to the low number of public schools in Center City.

In 2005, to prevent the flight of middle-class families, the school district and the Center City District, an economic development agency, started a program that promoted public schools in Center City (including Rittenhouse Square and Society Hill) and adjacent areas in Fairmount, Northern Liberties, and South Philadelphia.

K-8 schools that have attendance boundaries in Center City and areas around Center City include:

Neighborhood high schools for Center City and the Center City area, located outside of Center City, include:

Other high schools include:

Combined middle and high schools include:

Charter schools

Charter schools not operated by the School District of Philadelphia include:

  • Grades 1-12:
  • Grades 7-12:
  • The Mastery Charter Schools system operates the Mastery Charter Lenfest Campus (7-12) in Old City. It moved from North Philadelphia to Old City in 2002.
  • Grades 5-8:
    • Freire Charter Middle School
  • Grades 6-12:
    • World Communications Charter School
  • Grades 9-12:
    • Architecture and Design Charter School
    • Freire Charter High School
    • Mastery Charter High School
    • Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter School
  • Grades K-8:
    • Laboratory Charter School of Communication and Languages
    • Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School
  • Grades 6-8:
    • Wakisha Charter School
  • Grades K-7:
    • Christopher Columbus Charter School
    • Independence Charter School grades K-8
    • People for People Charter School
  • Grades Pre-K-8:
    • Russell Byers Charter School
  • Grades K-6:
    • Universal Institute Charter School

Private schools

Roman Catholic parochial schools

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia operates the following Roman Catholic parochial schools in the Center City area [1]:

Other private schools

Other private schools in the Center City area include:

Public libraries

The Free Library of Philadelphia operates the Parkway Central Library at 1901 Vine Street, the Independence Branch at 18 South 7th Street, the Philadelphia City Institute on the first floor and lower level of an apartment complex at 1905 Locust Street, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at 919 Walnut Street.

Other institutions

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools is headquartered in Center City.


Ben Franklin Bridge connects Center City with New Jersey

Major highways

Local public transit

There is a 500,000+ sq ft underground pedestrian concourse that connects many of the center city Septa stations to businesses and office buildings. Primarily running under Market Street and Broad Street, the concourse spans east to west from 8th street to 18th street and north to south from John F. Kennedy Boulevard to Spruce Street.

Intercity public transit

Interior of Philadelphia's 30th Street Station

Amtrak's primary Philadelphia station, 30th Street Station, is located immediately west of Center City, just across the Schuylkill River. SEPTA Regional Rail trains, New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Line trains, Market-Frankford Line trains, and subway-surface line trolleys also service 30th Street Station, and both Megabus and BoltBus stop on streets adjacent to the station.

As of 2016 Taiwanese airline China Airlines provides a private bus service to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City for customers based in the Philadelphia area. This service previously stopped in Center City in front of the Marriott Hotel.

Center City Residents' Association

The Center City Residents' Association, originally formed in 1947 to prevent Rittenhouse Square from being turned into a parking lot, is a primary advocate for quality of life issues in Center City. Other community organizations of this type include Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Society Hill Civic Association, South of South Street Neighborhood Association, Washington Square West Civic Association, and the Queen Village Neighbors Association.

Notable residents


See also

Panoramic view of Center City skyline, from the northwest

External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article Center City, Philadelphia, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.