08 March 2006

city hall

city hall

No, I've not given up blogging for Lent. I've just been occupied with other work that's kept me too busy to blog.

Among those activities was a field trip we took Monday downtown to Philadelphia's City Hall in order for Laurel to get a copy of our marriage certificate in order for her to change her name on and renew her passport. We're planning a trip to the UK in late May.

The century old Victorian extravagance is located on Center Square of William Penn's original 1682 layout for the city of Philadelphia and remains the nation's largest municipal building, larger even than the US Capitol. While the interior of the building is in disrepair, the exterior in undergoing a renovation restoring it to its original gleaming luster:

The exterior of the builing is modelled, in part, after the palace at Versailles and was designed by architect John MacArthur, a deacon at Tenth Presbyterian Church in the 19th century and the designer of its exterior as well. City Hall features a variety of statues and reliefs, as well as the 37 foot high figure of William Penn that's perched atop the 510 foot tower.



Laurel, Claire, and I took a trip up the tower after getting the copy of the certificate. At the base of the tower (already 9 floors up in the building), there's a small museum and some nice views of Center City, such as the towers of Liberty Place, the first buildings built in Philadelphia higher than City Hall:



All the way at the top of the tower there is an observation deck, just below the feet of the Penn statue, from which you can get spectacular views of the city and region, on a clear day as we had easily seeing 30 miles in each direction. Here's a view northwest up the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the distance, with the tall, reddish Verizon building to the left:



We also were able to look up at the statue of William Penn whose nose alone is three feet long under the brim of his enormous cap. I took this picture of his massive digits:



Perhaps "Talk to the hand" would be a fitting caption.

We didn't get to stay atop the tower as long as we would have liked, given that Claire seemed to be enjoying the heights and views, but a fire alarm went off somewhere in the building and we had to evacuate after a few minutes. Of course, an sirens, firetrucks, and evacuation are a lot of fun for a three year old too, though Daddy got a bit winded carrying her down all the stairs to ground level.