Seeing Philadelphia From Above at the Top of City Hall Tower

philadelphia city hall tower tour

Of all the tourist spots in Philadelphia, from the Rocky statue to the Museum of Art, why would anyone want to visit City Hall?

Well, City Hall is one of Philadelphia’s most iconic buildings. The 548-foot tower with the statue of William Penn is immediately recognizable as one of the city’s tallest and most eye-catching structures.

The cool thing is that visitors can ride an elevator up to the top of the tower to see the City of Brotherly Love from one of its coolest vantage points.

The Philadelphia City Hall Tower Tour is a surprisingly fun tourist activity – and it’s free!

I had a chance to take the tower tour and loved it. Here’s a recap of what I saw, along with some information for how you can join the tour as well.

philadelphia from above
The view from above on the Philadelphia City Hall Tower Tour.

How to Take the Free Philadelphia City Hall Tower Tour

Philadelphia City Hall is the largest municipal building in the U.S., with more than 14 acres of floor space. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Built in the 1890s, City Hall was intended to be the tallest building in the world, but it was quickly surpassed by the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower. It was constructed from brick, limestone, and white marble.

As the city’s website indicates, there are two different kinds of tours you can take at City Hall. Both are free.

One is a basic City Hall tour. This tour takes you around some of the hall’s 14 acres, offering insights and info about the history of the building.

The more enjoyable tour is the City Hall Tower Tour. This tour runs daily from 9:30 am to 4:15 pm. Stop in to the City Hall Tour Information Center (room 121) to pick up a free timed ticket on the day you would like to visit.

Note that all tours before noon are reserved for school groups. So in reality, your visit will have to take place from noon to 4:15 pm.

city hall tower tour

The Philadelphia City Hall Tower Tour is cool because you go up the elevator to the top, 511 feet above the city. Enjoy those views of the City of Brotherly Love.

Atop the building is a massive statue of William Penn. He’s the dude they named the state after, of course. Penn was a Quaker who received a charter from King Charles II to lead a territory in this new land.

From the ground, the statue of Penn atop the tower looks like it might be 5 or 10 feet tall. But it’s actually a whopping 37 feet tall! In fact, it’s the tallest statue atop any building in the world.

When you’re up close, you can really see just how massive bronze Billy Penn is.

william penn statue

You’ll get great views of the city from up here, although you will have to contend with the glare and reflection from the glass windows.

Tours run every 15 minutes. The tower itself is 511 feet up, while the Penn statue adds the extra 37 feet.

Visiting Philadelphia City Hall shouldn’t be as high priority as seeing the Rocky Statue or Philadelphia Magic Gardens, but it might still be worth a stop if you have the time.

city skyscrapers

While you’re in town, try all of the weird and quirky Philadelphia activities. Get yourself a Philly cheesesteak and a Tastykake Shake. Visit the Liberty Bell and all the historic Benjamin Franklin sites.

Stop by the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site. Stop by the Museum of Art. And, if you’re a glutton for punishment, the Penn Museum of Archaeology.

Philadelphia is a great part of a Revolutionary War road trip through the Northeast.

Would you take the Philadelphia City Hall Tower Tour?