One Liberty Place Observation Deck-Philadelphia
One of my favorite new technologies is the ability to see a map in 3D, in fact, my interest in geography and cartography has blossomed with the ability to zoom around buildings and streets on my iPhone maps. I’ve learned my way around places that were previously a mystery to me. You can imagine why I jumped at the opportunity to see the cityscape in real 3D by going to the top of one of the tallest buildings in Philadelphia. One Liberty Place Observation Deck takes you up 57 flights for a bird’s eye view of the city, with 360 degrees of visibility. In the words of my kids, “it is totally awesome!”
Just one block from City Hall, the entrance is off Market St. in the financial district of Philadelphia. Upon entry on the 2nd floor, there is the ticketing and information desk along with a small gift shop. Once you purchase your tickets, you weave your way through the queue stopping to get your family picture near the giant feet of Ben Franklin in a “lightening storm.” It wasn’t crowded at all when we went on a Wednesday before school was out for the summer, so we went straight to the front of the queue. You are ushered on an elevator nicely decorated with scenes from Philly and a large screen plays a short video promoting the city of Philadelphia as you ride to the top. The elevator moves quite rapidly and the only problem with that was our ears popped on the way up and back down! At the top you are greeted by the giant head of Ben Franklin, a great photo spot. Basically, you are then free to wander around all four sides to catch every angle. Each side has a theme such as sports, culture, and music with special seats where you can hear audio clips pertaining to the topic. Café style seating on the south side has board games at the tables for a relaxing experience if you want to take your time.
We took our oldest two children for their birthdays as part of the CityPASS tour (our trip was 2 days). When they first approached the perimeter of the glass walls, they clung to the railings nearby and refused to stand right next to the windows which extend to the floor. I admit, standing on the floor closest to the window made me feel like it was going to give way, which is an interesting physiological response to heights. The view is definitely amazing! At 945 feet tall, it is the 2nd tallest building (Comcast building is taller, with a new one being built which will surpass that one). To put it into perspective, my kids always enjoyed climbing the steps at the Cape May, NJ lighthouse on vacation; that seemed high with a great view, but it is only 157 feet making One Liberty Place as tall as 6 lighthouses stacked on top of one another! Wow!
Each side contains a large screen touchpad with a 3D map of what you are viewing. You can zoom in and out and tap on buildings to get more information about them. A bathroom and vending machines are located near the elevator, but that’s about all there is to do. I think the simplicity of it actually is what makes it nice. My kids LOVED this place and claimed they could stay there all day just sitting, looking, and playing games. It also was very helpful that it was not crowded when we went, allowing us to stand near the edges to our hearts content.
Our CityPASS tickets were the upgraded “Sun and Stars” pass which allowed you to visit twice in a 48 hour window. I hadn’t planned on taking advantage of that since I thought they would be too tired in the evening to walk back there from our hotel next to Chinatown, but both vehemently pleaded to go back. So when the sun was starting to set, we trekked back for a nighttime view of Philly. We watched the twinkling lights come on slowly as darkness set in, and the cityscape took on a whole new look. Some of the buildings are lit up in cool colors, and most interesting to me was seeing the grid of the city streets in perfect squares especially on the south side.
Definitely a must-see destination on your next Center City Philadelphia trip, this place will take your sightseeing to a whole new level.
Special Note: The bottom level of One Liberty Place contains a mini-mall with a food court. We had lunch here before our tour and everyone can get what they want with choices such as Saladworks, Chic-fil-a, Subway, Chipotle, and more!
Admission: General admission is $14/adult, $9/children 3-11, “Sun and Stars” tickets are $19/adult, $13/children 3-11, Special package for a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 kids) is $39, a 15% discount.
(One Liberty Place is part of the CityPASS booklet—see www.citypass.com/philadelphia for significant savings for probably at least a 2-day trip)
Hours: Spring/summer hours are 10AM-9PM, open daily 365 days a year!
One Liberty Place Observation Deck
1650 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Check out www.phillyfromthetop.com for all the details!