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Center City District, highlighted on a map of Philadelphia County.

Center City, or Downtown, Philadelphia includes the Central Business District, and central neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Its 2005 population of 88,000 makes it the third most populous downtown in the United States. This number can rise to over 235,000 during the working hours.



Center City makes up a large portion of the Philadelphia skyline as seen on the left

Center City is bounded by South Street to the south, the Delaware River to the east, the Schuylkill River to the west and either Vine Street or Spring Garden Street to the north (though the 88,000 population figure corresponds to an expanded area of roughly Poplar Street south to Christian Street).[1][2] If Vine Street is considered the northern border, then Center City occupies the boundaries of the city before Philadelphia County was added in 1854. The Center City District, which has special powers of taxation, uses a complicated, irregularly shaped boundary that includes much of this area but also extends beyond it.[3] The Philadelphia Police Department patrols two districts located within Center City. The two patrol districts serving Center City are the 6th and 9th districts.[4]

Neighborhood features

Among Center City's neighborhoods and districts are Penn's Landing, Old City, Society Hill, South Street/Head House District, District Washington Square West, Market East, Chinatown, Logan Circle, the Museum District (located along the Ben 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 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. Since the completion of One Liberty Place, no Philadelphia major-league sports team had 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, effectively ending the "curse".

Seven other skyscrapers now top the statue, including One Liberty Place's little sister, Two Liberty Place. In 2005, construction began on the Comcast Center, which was completed in 2007 and is now the tallest building in Pennsylvania, 30 feet taller than One Liberty Place. Three proposed buildings — Mandeville Place, 1441 Chestnut, and Bridgeman's View Tower — would also be taller than City Hall.

Other Center City skyscrapers include the Mellon Bank Center and the Verizon Tower, which houses a traffic camera used by the Philadelphia branch of the Westwood One MetroNetworks traffic service.

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

While Philadelphia's population has declined since the 1950s, Center City's rose 10% between 1990 and 2000.

In 2007, the city designated the area bounded by 11th Street, Broad Street, Chestnut Street and Pine Street as the Gayborhood.[5]


Aramark headquarters

Sunoco has its headquarters in the BNY Mellon Center.[6] Cigna has its corporate headquarters in Two Liberty Place.[7] Aramark is headquartered in Center City.[8] Comcast is headquartered in the Comcast Center.[9] The law firm Cozen O'Connor has its headquarters in Center City.[10]

Lincoln National Corporation moved its headquarters from Indiana to Philadelphia in 1999.[11] In Philadelphia Lincoln was headquartered in the West Tower of Centre Square in Center City.[12] In 2007 the company moved 400 employees, including its top executives, to Radnor Township from Philadelphia.[11]

Government and infrastructure

The Philadelphia Fire Department operates four fire stations in the Center City area :

  • Engine(Squirt) 43/Ladder 9
  • Engine 20/Ladder 23
  • Engine 8(Now Deactivated)/Snorkel 2
  • Engine 11
  • Engine 1(Now Deactivated)/Ladder 5.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons Northeast Region Office is in Center City.[13]

Diplomatic missions

The Consulate-General of Italy in Philadelphia is located in the 1026 Public Ledger Building at 150 South Independence Mall West.[14] The Consulate-General of Panama in Philadelphia is located in Suite 1 at 124 Chestnut Street.[15] The Consulate-General of Israel in Philadelphia is located on the 18th Floor at 1880 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.[16] The Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia is located in Suite 310 at 111 South Independence Mall East.[17]

The Consulate-General of the Dominican Republic in Philadelphia was located in Suite 216 in the Lafayette Building at 437 Chestnut Street.[18] It closed on November 7, 2005.[19]

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.




Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

School District of Philadelphia

Residents are within the School District of Philadelphia.

K-8 schools that have attendance boundaries in Center City and areas around Center City include:[20]

Neighborhood high schools for Center City and the Center City area, located outside of Center City, include:[21][22][23]

Other high schools include:

  • Bodine High School for International Affairs
  • Constitution High School for American Studies
  • Franklin Learning Center High School
  • Parkway Center City High School
  • Philadelphia High School for Business and Technology
  • Science Leadership Academy

Combined middle and high schools include:

Charter schools

Charter schools not operated by the School District of Philadelphia include [1]:

  • Grades 1-12:
  • Grades 6-12:
    • World Communications Charter School
  • Grades 8-12:
    • Freire Charter School
  • Grades 9-12:
    • Architecture and Design Charter School
    • Mastery Charter High School
    • Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter School
  • Grades K-8:
    • Laboratory Charter School of Communication and Languages
  • Grades 6-8:
    • Wakisha Charter School
  • Grades K-7:
    • Christopher Columbus Charter School
    • Independence Charter School
    • People for People Charter School
  • Grades Pre-K-6:
    • Russell Byers Charter School
  • Grades K-6:
    • Universal Institute Charter School
  • Grades K-5:
    • Folk Arts Treasures Charter School

Private school

Roman Catholic parochial schools

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia operates the following Roman Catholic parochial schools in the Center City area [2]:

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,[26] the Independence Branch at 18 South 7th Street,[27] the Philadelphia City Institute on the first floor and lower level of an apartment complex at 1905 Locust Street,[28] and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at 919 Walnut Street.[29]


Major highways

Local public transit

Intercity public transit

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.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "The State of Center City 2008", The Center City District and the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, May 2008.
  4. ^ PPD Online Patrol Districts, Philadelphia Police Department.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Contact Sunoco." Sunoco. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  7. ^ "Directions to CIGNA Corporate Offices." Cigna. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  8. ^ "Contact ARAMARK." Aramark. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  9. ^ "Comcast 2008 Annual Review." Comcast. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  10. ^ "Philadelphia." Cozen O'Connor. Retrieved on November 11, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Blumenthal, Jeff. "Lincoln sells Delaware Investments." Philadelphia Business Journal. Wednesday August 19, 2009. Modified Thursday August 20, 2009. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  12. ^ "Contact Us." Lincoln National Corporation. June 22, 2000. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  13. ^ "Northeast Region Office." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on January 1, 2010.
  14. ^ "Welcome to the web site of the Consulate General of Italy in Philadelphia." Consulate-General of Italy in Philadelphia. Retrieved on February 1, 2009.
  15. ^ "Panamanian Consulates in the U.S." Embassy of Panama in Washington D.C. Retrieved on February 2, 2009.
  16. ^ "Consular Services: Consular Reception Hours." Consulate-General of Israel in Philadelphia. Retrieved on February 1, 2009.
  17. ^ "Contactenos." Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia. Retrieved on February 1, 2009.
  18. ^ "Consulate Offices in the U.S." Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Washington, DC. Retrieved on February 1, 2009.
  19. ^ "DR to close four consulates in the USA." Dominican Today. November 8, 2005. Retrieved on February 1, 2009.
  20. ^ "Center City Public Elementary Schools." Center City District.
  21. ^ "Center City Schools — Maps & Info." Center City District.
  22. ^ "A Guide for September 2007 High School Admissions." School District of Philadelphia.
  23. ^ "A Directory of High Schools for 2009 Admissions." School District of Philadelphia. Accessed November 6, 2008.
  24. ^ "Graduates of General George A. McCall School." Center City District.
  25. ^ "Graduates of Albert M. Greenfield School." Center City District.
  26. ^ "Central Library." Free Library of Philadelphia. Retrieved on January 20, 2009.
  27. ^ "Independence Branch." Free Library of Philadelphia. Retrieved on January 20, 2009.
  28. ^ "Philadelphia City Institute." Free Library of Philadelphia. Retrieved on January 20, 2009.
  29. ^ "Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped." Free Library of Philadelphia. Retrieved on January 20, 2009.

External links

Coordinates: 39°57′07″N 75°09′50″W / 39.952°N 75.164°W / 39.952; -75.164


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