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“Great Architecture” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Old City Hall

Old City Hall
Independence Mall, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (City Center East)
+1 215 597 8974
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Phoenix, Arizona
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
23 attraction reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Great Architecture”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2014

The architecture of the building is amazing. When you walk through the tunnel look up to see the history of the United States of America, good and bad.

Visited January 2014
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22 reviews from our community

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Dublin, Ireland
Top Contributor
254 reviews 254 reviews
117 attraction reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
217 helpful votes 217 helpful votes
“Worth visiting & recalling the early years of the U.S.....”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 2, 2014

This is another building in the Independence Hall neighbourhood (outside the security perimeter) which is worth visiting, for historical reasons - not to mention, by the way, that there's a compact but quite good Souvenir Shop on its ground-floor.

Completed in 1791 - it was Philadelphia's second City Hall - from Day 1 the municipal government moved-in : the Mayor's Office & the Council Chamber were upstairs, and what was known as the "Mayor's Court" was below. When the Supreme Court was established (then, a Chief Justice + 5 Associate Justices), it needed a meeting-place for the fairly rare occasions it assembled, and it shared space with the Mayor's Court.

The duties of Supreme Court Justices were very different in those early days : they had to ride around the country servicing 3 different "circuits" of courts in the 13 original States - quite hazardous and physically demanding responsibilities. Without doubt, the early Supreme Court did not enjoy the power or prestige that it does now, and unlike to-day (where Justices stay in Office almost until they "drop"), although President Washington wished to appoint the finest legal minds in the U.S., he was plagued by resignations from the Court.

In those early days, the Supreme Court was meant to meet in Philadelphia twice a year, but that didn't happen due either to the non-availability of enough Justices, or, in the first 2 years, the lack of cases to hear - for the next 10 years, the Court averaged 7 cases a year! Although they didn't have exclusive use of a room in Philadelphia, the Justices found their situation even worse when Washington D.C. became the new Capital of the U.S. - nobody seemed to have thought of where to "put" them, and initially they were relegated to a temporary room in the Capitol, (although the area they occupied from 1810 to 1860 - which we saw in that building - was far from miserable!)

Contrast all of that with to-day's splendid location of a highly significant Supreme Court in an extremely distinctive building adjacent to "The Capitol" Yes, times DO change!

One final thought struck us about this historic building before we finished our brief tour : this was the venue for thousands of naturalisation ceremonies for immigrants arriving through Philadelphia in the 1790s.

And to-day ? We felt it was well worth visiting and absorbing some of the history, before adjourning to the Souvenir Shop on the ground-floor, where we made some purchases. You should do so too!

Visited October 2014
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Chicago
Top Contributor
1,400 reviews 1,400 reviews
349 attraction reviews
Reviews in 291 cities Reviews in 291 cities
780 helpful votes 780 helpful votes
“Home of the First Supreme Court, 1791 to 1800”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2014

My wife and I visited Old City Hall while touring historic Philadelphia.

Standing in front of the Liberty Bell you'll see Independence Hall flanked by Old City Hall on the left and Congress Hall on the right. Old City Hall was Philadelphia's second city hall and served as the home of the United States Supreme Court between the years of 1791 and 1800.

This was Philadelphia's Second City Hall. Philadelphia's original City Hall, built during Penn's lifetime, was near the Delaware River on 2nd Street. This building, today known as Old City Hall, was completed in 1791. From 1790 to 1800, Philadelphia was the Capital of the United States. And from August 1791 to February 1800, the United States Supreme Court held sessions in the courtroom on the first floor of Old City Hall, sharing space with the Mayor's Court.

Visited August 2014
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Batavia, New York
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
24 attraction reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Old world charm”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2014

Love the idea of the old world charm of this building...immaculate in size and it was just breathtaking the molding and the statues inside...the whole thing was awe!

Visited August 2014
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Sweetwater
Top Contributor
71 reviews 71 reviews
35 attraction reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Interesting Place with History”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2014 via mobile

The Old City Hall is right beside Independence Hall and once housed The Supreme Court. The Park Ranger inside was great and we had him to ourselves for a personal tour. Doesn't take long to visit, so stop by before or after your Independence Hall visit.

Visited March 2014
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