My two favorite buildings in Philadelphia are the Divine Lorraine and City Hall (above). (The story of the Divine Lorraine is one for another day, but trust me when I tell you that it’s a good one.)
So, here are some facts about “The Folly at Broad & Market…the monstrous inchoate municipal palace”1, “the Biggest and Ugliest Building in America”2.
- It’s the largest municipal building in the United States.
- When it was built, people really thought that it was hideous (see quotes above).
- It was briefly the tallest (habitable) building in the world (1901-1908).
- The statue of William Penn (by Alexander Calder) on City Hall is the tallest statue atop any building in the world.
- For a long time it was the tallest building in Philadelphia. In the 1980’s One Liberty Place was built and surpassed it which was said to have cursed Philadelphia sports teams. The Curse of Billy Penn ended when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.
- The view from the observation deck is one the best in the city. (It used to be free to go up there, but it looks like it’s now $5, or included in the $10 price of the City Hall tour.)
(image of City Hall, Philadelphia via Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catolog Jack Boucher, photographer, August 1982)
1Newspaper headline, 1876
2Evening Bulletin, 1885