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Center City, Philadelphia facts for kids

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Center City, Philadelphia
Center City Philadelphia from the Zoo Balloon, 2016
Center City Philadelphia from the Zoo Balloon, 2016
Center City within Philadelphia
Center City within Philadelphia
Country  United States of America
State  Pennsylvania
County Flag of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.svg Philadelphia
City Flag of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.svg Philadelphia
 • Total 2.07 sq mi (5.4 km2)
 • Total 57,239
 • Density 27,614.1/sq mi (10,661.9/km2)
ZIP Code
19102, 19103, 19106, 19107, 19146, 19147
Map of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania highlighting the City of Philadelphia prior to the Act of Consolidation, 1854

Center City includes the central business district and central neighborhoods of Philadelphia, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is the former City of Philadelphia prior to the Act of Consolidation, 1854 which extended the city borders to be coterminous with Philadelphia County. Greater Center City has grown into the second-most populated downtown area in the United States, after Midtown Manhattan in New York City, with an estimated 183,240 residents in 2015.



I-676 underground in Center City at 12th Street and Vine Street

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. This means that Center City occupies the boundaries of the city before it was made coterminous with Philadelphia County in 1854. The Center City District, which has special powers of taxation, uses a complicated, irregularly shaped boundary that includes much but not all of this area, and also extends beyond it. The Philadelphia Police Department patrols three districts located within Center City. The three patrol districts serving Center City are the 6th, 9th, and 17th districts.

Neighborhood features

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.

The Philadelphia City Hall
The Philadelphia City Hall in Center City

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 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"

Logan Circle Philly
Logan Circle
Philadelphia Night Skyline
Center City at night

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, is now the tallest building in Pennsylvania, 30 feet taller than One Liberty Place. Two buildings now under construction — 1441 Chestnut and the Comcast Technology Center — are also slated to be taller than City Hall. The latter would be the eighth-tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the tallest outside of Manhattan and Chicago. 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; such luminaries include George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

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

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



Suburban Station Facade
Front entrance of Suburban Station.

Major highways

Local public transit

  • Center City Commuter Connection
    • Jefferson Station (Regional Rail)
    • Suburban Station (Regional Rail)
    • Market-Frankford Line (2nd Street, 5th Street, 8th Street, 11th Street, 13th Street, and 15th Street stations)
    • Broad Street Line (Spring Garden, Race-Vine, City Hall, Walnut-Locust, and Lombard-South stations on main line; Chinatown and 8th Street stations on Broad-Ridge Spur)
    • Subway-surface trolley lines (13th Street, 15th Street, 19th Street, and 22nd Street stations; all stations on Market Street)
    • Various bus routes
  • PATCO Speedline (8th & Market, 9-10th & Locust, 12-13th & Locust, and 15-16th & Locust Street stations)
  • New Jersey Transit (various bus routes & stops)

Intercity public transit

Philly 30th St. Station interior
Interior of Philadelphia's 30th Street Station
  • Philadelphia Greyhound Terminal (Greyhound, Peter Pan, and various Trailways buses)
  • 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 stops in Center City in front of the Marriott Hotel.

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. 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.


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