A Closer Look: A Walking Tour of Philadelphia

While in Philadelphia for Light Fair International, Judy and I took a quick walking tour of Center City.  It’s amazing how many beautiful examples of architecture can be found just steps from the Convention Center located at 13th and Market.  You can do the whole circuit in about a half hour.

We began by walking west from the convention center to Broad Street, where we caught a glimpse of two of Philly’s most handsome buildings – the Masonic Temple (left) and City Hall (right).  Completed in 1901, City Hall is an excellent example of the Second Empire style.  It was Philadelphia’s tallest building until 1987, and it is still the tallest and largest all-masonry building in the world.

We also walked by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art building, designed by Frank Furness.  Built in the Vicotrian Gothic style, this building is a masteripiece of architectural ornament.

We also saw saw great examples of public artwork very close to City Hall, including impressive sculptures by Claes Oldenburg and Jacques Lipchitz.  The nearby Fabric Workshop and Museum houses cutting-edge contemporary art shows and is also worth a visit.

Our final stop was the PSFS building (now the Loews Hotel), built in 1932.  It is said to be the world’s first skycraper built in the International Style of Modernism.  Filled with fine examples of marble from around the world, Judy and I marveled at it’s beautiful interiors.  But one of the building’s custom Cartier clocks told us it was lunch time, so we descended to the first floor and ate lunch at the hotel’s restaurant – Sole Food.

Finally, we headed back to the Convention Center, which itself is an architectural landmark.  Originally the Reading Terminal Train Station, the building also houses many restaurants and food markets on the first floor.  It’s a great place to grab a quick lunch.