Center City, Philadelphia

Coordinates: 39°57′07″N 75°09′50″W / 39.952°N 75.164°W / 39.952; -75.164
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Center City
The Schuylkill River (foreground) and Center City Philadelphia (background) in July 2007
The Schuylkill River (foreground) and Center City Philadelphia (background) in July 2007
Center City within Philadelphia
Center City within Philadelphia
Coordinates: 39°57′07″N 75°09′50″W / 39.952°N 75.164°W / 39.952; -75.164
Country US
 • Total7.7 sq mi (20 km2)
 • Total69,433
 • Density32,151/sq mi (12,414/km2)
ZIP Codes
19102, 19103, 19106–19107, 19109, 19146–19147

Center City includes the central business district and central neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. 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.

The area has grown to the second-most densely populated downtown area in the United States after Midtown Manhattan in New York City with an estimated 202,100 residents in 2020 and a population density of 26,284 per square mile.[3]



Schuylkill Expressway near Center City
Views of the Schuylkill Expressway near Center City in 2022

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.[4] The district occupies the old boundaries of the City of Philadelphia before the city was made coterminous with Philadelphia County in 1854. The Center City District, which has special powers of taxation,[5] has a complicated, irregularly shaped boundary that includes much but not all of this area and also extends beyond it.[6] The Philadelphia Police Department patrols four districts located within Center City – the 6th, 9th, 3rd, and 17th districts.[7]

Neighborhood features[edit]

Center City at night in May 2007
Logan Circle in 2011
Philadelphia City Hall at night in December 2012

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.

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 fourteen years (1894–1908). 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 three-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".

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 and the tallest building in the United States outside of Manhattan and 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 between 1990 and 2000, Center City's population increased by 10% over that same period.

In 2007, the city designated the area bound by 11th Street, Broad Street, Chestnut Street and Pine Street as the Gayborhood.[8]



The 58-story Comcast Center in Center City, the second-tallest building in Philadelphia and 23rd-tallest building in the nation
Reading Terminal Market in Center City in January 2011

Sunoco has its headquarters in the BNY Mellon Center.[9] Cigna has its corporate headquarters in 2 Liberty Place.[10] Aramark is headquartered in Center City on the east bank of the Schuylkill River on Market Street.[11] Comcast is headquartered in the Comcast Center.[12] The law firm Cozen O'Connor has its headquarters in Center City.[13] Kogan Page has its U.S. headquarters in Center City.[14]

Lincoln National Corporation moved its headquarters from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Philadelphia in 1999.[15] In Philadelphia Lincoln was headquartered in the West Tower of Centre Square in Center City.[16] In 2007, the company moved 400 employees, including its top executives, to Radnor Township from Philadelphia.[15]

Government and infrastructure[edit]


Center City is home to some of the largest and most prominent buildings in the United States, including:


The U.S. Custom House in Old City in July 2014

The Philadelphia Fire Department operates five fire stations in Center City:

  • 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.[17]

The William J. Green Jr. Federal Building houses the Federal Bureau of Investigation Philadelphia Field Office.[18]

Diplomatic offices and consulates[edit]

The Consulate-General of Italy in Philadelphia is located in the 1026 Public Ledger Building at 150 South Independence Mall West.[19] The Consulate-General of Panama in Philadelphia is located in Suite 1 at 124 Chestnut Street.[20] The Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia is located in Suite 310 of the Bourse Building off of Independence Mall.[21]

The Consulate-General of the Dominican Republic in Philadelphia was located in Suite 216 in the Lafayette Building at 437 Chestnut Street.[22] It closed on November 7, 2005.[23] The Consulate-General of Israel in Philadelphia was located on the 18th Floor at 1880 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.[24] Israel closed the Philadelphia consulate in 2016.[25]


Public schools[edit]

George W. Nebinger School in the Bella Vista neighborhood in May 2010
Albert M. Greenfield School on Chestnut Street in Center City in April 2019

Residents of Center City are included 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.[26]

In 2005, in an attempt to slow the flight of middle-class families, the school district and Center City District, an economic development agency, launched 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.[27]

K-8 schools that have attendance boundaries in Center City and areas around Center City include:[28]

  • Albert M. Greenfield
    • It opened in September 1954 as the Center City School after the Center City Residents Association (CCRA) advocated for its establishment. It was initially housed in a YWCA and later in the former Jerrold Electronics Building. In 1964 the school district bought the site for a permanent campus, which began construction in 1966 and opened in September 1970.[26]

Neighborhood high schools for Center City and the Center City area, located outside of Center City, include:[29][30][31]

Other high schools include:

Combined middle and high schools include:

Charter schools[edit]

Charter schools not operated by the School District of Philadelphia include:[34]

  • 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.[35]
  • 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[edit]

Roman Catholic parochial schools[edit]

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

Other private schools[edit]

Other private schools in the Center City area include:

  • Grades Pre-K-12:
  • Grades 9-12:
    • City Center Academy
  • Grades Pre-K-8:
    • St. Peter's School
    • The Philadelphia School

Public libraries[edit]

The Free Library of Philadelphia operates the Parkway Central Library at 1901 Vine Street,[36] the Independence Branch at 18 South 7th Street,[37] the Philadelphia City Institute on the first floor and lower level of an apartment complex at 1905 Locust Street,[38] and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at 919 Walnut Street.[39]

Other institutions[edit]

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools is headquartered in Center City.[40]


Music and theatre[edit]

Center City Philadelphia is home to some of the nation and world's leading cultural institutions. Avenue of the Arts, a city-designated cultural district, includes Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which houses the Philadelphia Orchestra (a Big Five orchestra) and the Academy of Music, home of the Philadelphia Ballet and Opera Philadelphia. The avenue is home to multiple theatres, including the Miller, Suzanne Roberts, and Wilma theatres. Forrest Theatre is also located in center city, at 1114 Walnut Street.


Mütter Museum, a medical museum, is located in center city at 19 S. 22nd Street.


Center City Philadelphia has a vast number of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. McGillin's Olde Ale House, at 1310 Drury Street, is one of the nation's oldest pubs (founded in 1860).


Benjamin Franklin Bridge, a 2,917.86 meters (9,573.0 ft) bridge connecting Center City with Camden, New Jersey in March 2012

Major highways[edit]

Streets and bridges[edit]

Center city streets and bridges include Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which connects the city with Camden, New Jersey, and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a one-mile long parkway that runs from Philadelphia City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Three major center city streets are Broad, Market, and South Streets.

Local public transit[edit]

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[edit]

Interior of Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, one of the nation's busiest passenger train stations
  • Greyhound at two locations:
    • 618 Market
    • JFK and 30th Street
  • Peter Pan, and various Trailways buses at 618 Market Street
  • Megabus (30th Street Station)
  • Various Chinatown bus lines (various operators & stops; most stops near 11th & Arch Streets)

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.[41]

Center City Residents' Association[edit]

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.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2018 State of Center City Philadelphia" (PDF). 2018 State of Center City Philadelphia. CENTERCITYPHILA.ORG. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  2. ^ "2022 State of Center City Philadelphia" (PDF). 2018 State of Center City Philadelphia. CENTERCITYPHILA.ORG. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  3. ^ "2022 State of Center City Philadelphia" (PDF). 2022 State of Center City Philadelphia. CENTERCITYPHILA.ORG. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  4. ^ "The State of Center City 2015, page 4" Archived September 12, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "The State of Center City 2008" Archived September 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, The Center City District and the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, May 2008.
  6. ^ "Center City District Boundary Map". Center City District web site. Center City District. Archived from the original on August 30, 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  7. ^ PPD Online Patrol Districts, Philadelphia Police Department.
  8. ^ "New signs make it official: We have a 'gayborhood' - Daily News - 04/19/2007". April 30, 2007. Archived from the original on April 30, 2007.
  9. ^ "Contact Sunoco Archived 2009-09-25 at the Wayback Machine." Sunoco. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  10. ^ "Directions to CIGNA Corporate Offices". Cigna. Archived from the original on February 9, 2010. Retrieved August 24, 2009.
  11. ^ "Contact Us". Aramark. Archived from the original on May 15, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2009.
  12. ^ "Shareholder Information". Comcast 2008 Annual Review. Comcast. Archived from the original on November 26, 2009. Retrieved August 24, 2009.
  13. ^ "Offices: Philadelphia". Cozen O'Connor. Archived from the original on November 7, 2009. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
  14. ^ "Contact". Kogan Page USA. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved July 5, 2011. Kogan Page Publishers 1518 Walnut Street, Suite 1100 Philadelphia, PA 19102
  15. ^ a b Blumenthal, Jeff. "Lincoln sells Delaware Investments". Philadelphia Business Journal. August 19, 2009. Modified August 20, 2009. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  16. ^ "Contact Us". Lincoln National Corporation. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  17. ^ "Northeast Regional Office". Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on June 9, 2015. "U.S. Custom House, 7th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19106"
  18. ^ "Philadelphia". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved on June 9, 2015. "William J. Green, Jr. Building 600 Arch Street, 8th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19106"
  19. ^ "Benvenuti sul sito web del Consolato Generale d'Italia a Filadelfia" [Welcome to the web site of the Consulate General of Italy in Philadelphia]. Consulate-General of Italy in Philadelphia. Archived from the original on January 16, 2014. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
  20. ^ "Panamanian Consulates in the U.S." Embassy of Panama in Washington D.C. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
  21. ^ "Contactenos". Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia. Archived from the original on March 2, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
  22. ^ "Consulates of the Dominican Republic in The United States". Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Washington, DC. January 16, 2002. Archived from the original on October 24, 2002. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
  23. ^ "DR to close four consulates in the USA". Dominican Today. November 8, 2005. Archived from the original on June 20, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
  24. ^ "Consular Services: Consular Reception Hours". Consulate-General of Israel in Philadelphia. Archived from the original on June 19, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2009.
  25. ^ Marks, Jon (September 6, 2017). "A Year On, City Adjusts to Life Sans Consulate". Jewish Exponent. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  26. ^ a b "About Us". Albert M. Greenfield School. Retrieved on April 5, 2018.
  27. ^ Snyder, Susan (August 22, 2005). "Selling schools - to families, A new campaign touts 20 Center City sites. Its aim: Retain the middle class. Schools pitch aims at stemming flight of the middle class". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  28. ^ "Center City Public Elementary Schools". Center City District.
  29. ^ "Center City Schools — Maps & Info Archived July 6, 2007, at" Center City District.
  30. ^ "A Guide for September 2007 High School Admissions Archived 2007-07-04 at the Wayback Machine." School District of Philadelphia.
  31. ^ "A Directory of High Schools for 2009 Admissions Archived 2015-11-06 at the Wayback Machine." School District of Philadelphia. Accessed November 6, 2008.
  32. ^ "General George A. McCall School - Where the graduates go". Center City District.
  33. ^ "Albert M. Greenfield School - Where the graduates go". Center City District. Archived from the original on May 31, 2008.
  34. ^ "Center City Schools — Maps & Info", Center City District (website), Center City District/Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, archived from the original on July 6, 2007
  35. ^ "Lenfest Campus". Mastery Charter Schools. Retrieved on September 10, 2012. "35 South 4th Street Philadelphia, PA 19106"
  36. ^ "Central Library". Free Library of Philadelphia. Retrieved on January 20, 2009.
  37. ^ "Independence Branch". Free Library of Philadelphia. Retrieved on January 20, 2009.
  38. ^ "Philadelphia City Institute". Free Library of Philadelphia. Retrieved on January 20, 2009.
  39. ^ "Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped". Free Library of Philadelphia. Retrieved on January 20, 2009.
  40. ^ Home page Archived 2012-04-14 at the Wayback Machine. Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Retrieved on May 12, 2015. "200 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19104"
  41. ^ "Free Shuttle Service To/From JFK Airport Archived 2016-03-06 at the Wayback Machine." China Airlines. September 15, 2015. Retrieved on February 29, 2016.

External links[edit]