While I’ve taken in some fairly epic views from above on my travels (the Giralda in Seville, Spain; the Space Needle in Seattle; Machu Picchu in Peru), the one place where I hadn’t is my hometown of Philadelphia. Although I’ve seen some pretty images of the city when coming into the airport, they’ve been short and fleeting. That’s been somewhat due to the fact that there’s never been a proper observation deck like the ones in New York (Top of the Rock) or Chicago (The Willis Tower). Fortunately, that’s no longer the case.
On a couple of my last trips home, I tried to visit the observatory deck inside Philadelphia’s City Hall. However, because of the extremely small space, tickets are limited as are visiting hours. So alas, I never made it there. When I heard that an observation deck had recently opened at One Liberty Place (one of the city’s skyscrapers), the stars finally aligned.
I didn’t have much free time on my most recent trip home (visits are always much too short). However, I tentatively planned to visit One Liberty on the day my mom and I went out to dinner (tried a Cuban restaurant I had never been to before-post on my terrific meal there coming soon). Since tickets aren’t cheap (they’re $19 a person for adults), my visiting was going to be contingent upon the weather. Thankfully the day was beautiful and the skies were clear.
You can purchase tickets ahead of time online (you select the day and time you want to visit), or you can just walk up and get them. While I considered getting tickets in advance, I decided against it, not wanting to be disappointed if the weather didn’t cooperate. I was somewhat concerned about the lines and wait times being long, but we literally walked right up and hopped directly into the elevator.
Upon stepping out of the elevator (57 floors up to be exact), a giant sculpture of one of the city’s most famous (adopted) sons greets you. Ben Franklin is also quite the popular photo opp too. The observation deck puts you 883 feet above street level and you truly are rewarded with some spectacular 360-degree views both of the city center and beyond (neighboring areas as well as New Jersey, which is right across the Delaware River).
As a native of the city, it was incredibly neat to finally be atop an observation tower where I recognized so many of the sites below. My favorite views were probably the one that included another famous statue (William Penn atop City Hall-for a long time, no buildings were allowed to be taller than this one), Old City, and the Walt Whitman and Ben Franklin Bridges, which take you into New Jersey. My only disappointment is that one of the city’s most famous structures, Independence Hall, is eclipsed by taller, more modern buildings and remains unseen.
In addition to the views, throughout the deck there are Philadelphia-focused listening stations (the ubiquitous Rocky theme as well as the theme from a beloved kids’ show from the 1990s, Boy Meets World, which took place in Philadelphia), and six multi-lingual touch screens that allow you to zoom in on a single point hundreds of feet below. It is a great way to identify any buildings you didn’t know.
Would I recommend visiting here? Absolutely. However, I’d probably advise against getting your ticket in advance in case the weather doesn’t turn out to be the best, since the lines didn’t seem to be anything like those at the Willis Tower or Space Needle. Places like One Liberty Place are best enjoyed when you have a pristine view in front of you.
And as a Philly girl, naturally I loved all of the Philly décor.
One Liberty Observation Deck
1650 Market Street, Philadelphia PA