Culture of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


According to indexdotcom, Philadelphia has a total of 67 National Historic Landmarks, placing the city in third place with the most historic places within the city limits. The Independence National Park is the center of the UNESCO World Heritage in the city. Other well-known tourist sites include the First and Second Bank of the United States, Fort Mifflin, and the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church.

Old colonial Philadelphia was dominated by wooden houses that were later replaced by stone variants. Georgian architecture became fashionable during the 18th century and Independence Hall and Christ Church were built in this style. In the 19th century, the terraced houses were first introduced in the United States in Philadelphia. When these houses were built elsewhere in the country, they came to be known as “Philadelphia Rows” there. During this century Frank Furness became the greatest architect of the former capital and was responsible, among other things, for the design of thePennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Philadelphia City Hall was built in the architectural style of the Second French Empire. City Hall was the tallest building in the world until 1908 and the city ‘s tallest building until 1987. In that year, it was surpassed in height by the Liberty Place. In 2003, the new Liberty Bell Center opened. The clock of the same name hangs in this building, designed by Robert Cywinski. Curbed magazine featured the Vanna Venturi House, designed by Robert Venturi, ranked first among Philadelphia’s most iconic buildings in 2019. The Margaret Esherick House and the Fisher Fine Arts Library followed in second and third place. Boathouse Row can be found on the banks of the Schuylkill. The houses here were designed by different architects and built in various architectural styles, such as Mediterranean Revival architecture and Colonial Revival architecture.

Philadelphia also built the first International Style American skyscraper, now known as the PSFS Building. The Philadelphia skyline currently consists of 456 tall buildings, including 94 skyscrapers.As of 2018, the Comcast Technology Center is the city’s tallest building at 339 meters.The sixty-story building cost a total of $1.5 billion.


Mural of Philadelphia-born movie star Mario Lanza

The city is home to many museums of which the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the largest and best known. The museum has a collection of over 240,000 artifacts, more than half of which can be viewed online. The museum includes Composition of proportions by Theo van Doesburg and Le Pont Neuf, après-midi by Camille Pissarro. Officially part of the Philadelphia Museum of Arts, the Rodin Museum holds the largest collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures outside of France. A large collection of French paintings can be admired in the Barnes FoundationImpressionist art. Another renowned museum is the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In addition, Philadelphia has the most public art in America. Some examples of these are the Swann Memorial Fountain in Logan Square and the Clothespin in Center Square Plaza.

In addition, Philadelphia has about 2,700 murals, making it the place with the largest selection in the world.  The city has a Mural Arts Program that aims to eradicate unwanted graffiti and prevent neighborhood degradation. In 2011, this organization hired the duo Haas&Hahn to provide murals in the Germantown neighborhood in the north of Philadelphia, together with the local population.


The Kimmel Center seen from the south

The Avenue of Fine Arts is home to many theaters and restaurants, including the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, home of the prestigious Philadelphia Orchestra. One block further downtown is the Walnut Street Theater, known as America’s oldest theater.

On July 13, 1985, the American Live Aid took place at Philadelphia ‘s John F. Kennedy Stadium. The American Live 8 was also performed in the city, this time on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Philadelphia has spawned many artists over time, most notably in hip-hop. Among them are The Roots, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Freeway, Schoolly D, Eve and Lisa Lopes. Also the bands Bloodhound Gang, The Four Aces, The Stylistics, The Three Degreesand The War on Drugs are from Philadelphia. The soul music that artists from Philadelphia made in the 60s and 70s of the twentieth century was called the Philly Sound. Much of this sound’s music was produced by the Philadelphia International Records record label founded by Kenneth Gambell and Leon Huff. Artists under contract to this label included The O’Jays and Billy Paul.


Several festivals and other events are hosted in Philadelphia every year. One of the most famous events is the Mummers Parade, which has been held on New Year ‘s Day since 1901. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is very popular among local Irish Americans. Since 1993, several events have been organized in the summer surrounding Independence Day, such as the multi-day Welcome America, which celebrates Philadelhia as the birthplace of the United States. In September, the sixteen-day Philadelphia Live Arts Festival is organized by PrideFest to promote LGBT rights. Since 1829, an annual flower show has been organized in Philadelphia by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. It is America’s largest indoor flower show.


The Philadelphia Sports Complex in 2007. In the middle is the old Wachovia Spectrum that was demolished in 2010, and in the right corner is Citizens Bank Park. The photo was taken on the roof of the Wells Fargo Center.

Philadelphia is one of twelve American cities represented in each of the four major American sports: American football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey. Of the city’s top-performing sports clubs, the Philadelphia Eagles are the most successful with three titles. South Philadelphia is home to the city’s sports complex that includes the Lincoln Financial Field, Citizens Bank Park, and Wells Fargo Center stadiums. Previously there was also the John F. Kennedy Stadium, which was demolished in 1992. In addition to the major traditional American sports, the city is also represented in Major League Soccer with the Philadelphia Union.

Numerous other sporting events are also organized in the city. The Philadelphia Half Marathon has been run annually since 1978. The Philadelphia Cycling Classic has been taking place around the city since 1985. The first edition of this cycling race was won by skating champion Eric Heiden. Until the mid-1990s, Philadelphia also had its own ATP and WTA tennis tournament. Another popular sport in the city is rowing, which has a tradition dating back to the 18th century. The local association organizes several regattas each year on the Schuylkill.

On April 22, 2013, Mayor Michael Nutter announced Philadelphia’s interest in hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics. The city had previously tried to compete for the organization of the 2016 edition. More than a year later, the mayor announced that their bid would not be pursued due to the enormous costs involved.

Between 1980 and 2008, Philadelphia’s major professional sports teams failed to win a single prize. The explanation for this was the fact that in 1987 the highest point in the city, the statue of William Penn on the city hall, was surpassed in height by the skyscraper One Liberty Place. Since then, not a single major team from the city has managed to win a prize. There was then talk of a curse “The Curse of William Penn”. In 2007, a couple of construction workers placed a statue of William Penn at the top of the newest tallest skyscraper, Comcast Center, to lift the curse. Then the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series over a year later and in 2018 the Eagles won theSuper Bowl for the first time in their existence.

Club Sport league Championships Stadium
Philadelphia Eagles american football National Football League ; NFC 3 (1948, 1949, 1960, 2018) Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia Flyers Ice hockey National Hockey League; Eastern 2 (1973-74, 1974-75) Wells Fargo Center
Philadelphia Phillies baseball Major League Baseball ; NL 2 (1980s, 2008) Citizens Bank Park
Philadelphia 76ers Basketball National Basketball Association; Eastern 2 (1966-67, 1982-83) Wells Fargo Center
Philadelphia Phantoms Ice hockey American Hockey League 2 (1997-98, 2004-05) Wachovia Spectrum
Philadelphia Soul Arena football Arena Football League 1 Wells Fargo Center
Philadelphia Union Football Major League Soccer 0 PPL Park

Food and drink

McGillin’s Olde Ale House

The local cuisine has been heavily influenced by Philadelphia’s many ethnic groups and several dishes have become iconic to the city. For example, hoagies, cheesesteak, water ice and soft pretzels originate from Philadelphia.  Another well-known dish is the Philadelphia Pepper Pot, a soup based on tripe, meat and vegetables, which is said to have been developed in the city during the American Revolutionary War.

Located on Drury Street in Center City and the oldest pub in the city, McGillin’s Olde Ale House has been around since 1860. The major restaurants are located in Center City and are mainly around Rittenhouse Square, Old City, Chinatown and East Passyunk Avenue.

Philadelphia in popular culture

The stairs in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art were made world famous by the movie Rocky, where the 72 steps were used as training equipment by Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone). In 1982, for the movie Rocky III, a statue of the protagonist was placed on these stairs, commissioned by Stallone. After the filming, the statue was left as a gift to the city. According to Dick Doran, City Commerce director, Stallone had done more for the city’s image than anyone since Benjamin Franklin.

Philadelphia is another film in which the city is an important place of action. Bruce Springsteen received an Oscar for the song Streets of Philadelphia that he wrote for the film. The films National Treasure and Invincible also have Philadelphia as a background. Other films featuring the city include Kitty Foyle, The Philadelphia Story, Blow Out, The Philadelphia Experiment, The War of the Roses, and Shooter. In addition, various television series, such as Cold Case,It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Body of Proof and Boy Meets World are set in the former capital.

Culture of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania