Experiencing City Hall
February 15, 2018
As a student in the Pennoni Honors College, I am fortunate enough to get opportunities that would not otherwise be available to me. One of these opportunities is the Honors Colloquia course, a specialized class on a topic I would not get to learn about otherwise. Every term there are different colloquia offered, but this term I was lucky enough to get into a class about one of the most iconic sites in Philadelphia that I am very eager to learn about: City Hall.
A truly breathtaking experience, it's amazing to think that only two years prior, I never could even fathom getting to see Philadelphia from that aerial and historic location through a class at Drexel, yet there I was, learning in the most hands-on way, 484 feet in the sky.
The goal of the class is to teach students about the history, architecture, and politics of Philadelphia City Hall, the largest active municipal building in the country. Not being a Philadelphia native, City Hall was one of the most striking and impressive buildings I saw when first getting acclimated to the city. I recall being fascinated and almost awe-struck by the building's size and the attention to detail, covered in sculptures on every facade. The height, the enormous statue of William Penn, and the clock on the face of the tower all combine to create a sense of admiration for the building. Who would think that two years later, I would be taking a course that delves into the details of the building's history, architecture, and politics.
Of course, no course about City Hall would be complete without a tour of the building, so just in the second week of the term, we were taken on a tour of City Hall, getting to see things I never would have otherwise. We were first taken around the outside of the building, seeing the four specific portals on each cardinal direction of the building. We learned that each entrance served a different purpose and was therefore given a unique design with the hope of inspiring different emotions when entering. When we entered the building, we were taken to the reception hall with its mahogany fireplace and portraits of past mayors lining the walls. We were then taken to Conversation Hall, a dramatic room once used for discussions among select councils and municipal legislature, now used for meetings and receptions. With great detailing throughout and a full-sized sculpture of George Washington at the front, the room is truly incredible.
No tour of City Hall would be complete, however, without getting to see the observation deck. We were taken up in groups of four through a small elevator to the panoramic deck enclosed with glass walls. Right below the bronze William Penn statue, we were able to see all of Center City and beyond. A truly breathtaking experience, it's amazing to think that only two years prior, I never could even fathom getting to see Philadelphia from that aerial and historic location through a class at Drexel, yet there I was, learning in the most hands-on way, 484 feet in the sky.
Albert Hanan is a Sophomore at Drexel University studying architectural engineering with a minor in business administration. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Albert is a member of the Pennoni Honors College as well as the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity. When not in class or studying, Albert enjoys hiking, playing basketball, and playing guitar.