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6 Philadelphia Secrets You May Not Have Known About Until Now

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

You’ve snapped a selfie with the Liberty Bell, toured the hallowed halls where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and climbed Rocky’s steps up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But that doesn’t mean you’ve seen everything the City of Brotherly Love has to offer.

1. One of the last remaining wooden streets in America is the road on Camac St

Nestled between 12th and 13th Streets (and Walnut and Locust), back in the 1910s, city planners paved the streets in Philly using pine and oak blocks in an attempt to lessen the sound of carriage and horse traffic throughout the city. However, a combination of overuse and water damage, left the streets in terrible shape. Restored in 1997, Camac Street is the only remaining wooden street left in the city (and possibly country).

2. The legendary jail at Veterans Stadium

While it’s always been possible to get arrested at an Eagles game, nowadays you will have to leave the stadium before getting your sentence. But back in the late '90s, the Vet had its own justice system: Eagles Court. Probably more notorious than anything else, particularly “spirited” fans could be sentenced mid-game by a sitting municipal judge in the basement of Veterans Stadium. The concept briefly switched to Lincoln Financial with the stadium switch but was dropped with an overall increase in good behavior.

3. There were once plans for railroad stops along the Ben Franklin Bridge

During initial plans for construction of the Ben Franklin Bridge, designs included a trolley line that ran across with stops in Camden and Philly. There were also additional access points built into the bridge's anchorages for any foot traffic, however, as interests shifted towards automobiles the plans were scrapped before tracks were officially laid.

4. The William Penn statue is hollow (and you can exit through his hat)

Perched at the top of city hall, and once the tallest point in the city, the statue of William Penn is one of the most important symbols of Philadelphia. Instantly recognizable, there are some interesting facts about the 27-ton statue. For one, William is hollow and has housed all forms of communications devices, from radio towers to microwave dishes during the '60s. A lucky few can also access the top of William's head through a 22in hatch found at the top of his hat.

5. There are Olympic-sized pools below the Fairmount Water Works

Located along the Schuylkill River, the Fairmount Water Works has historically been among the most important tourist attractions (and utilities) in the city: during the mid-to-late 1800s, the Water Works was popular for its gardens, saloon, and waterfront views. After closing in 1909, the city tried to redevelop the area again into a tourist attraction, with the Philadelphia Aquarium (closed in 1962) and Olympic-sized pools (closed since 1973) that can still be found in the catacombs. Sadly, the pools, a gift from the Kelly family (of Kelly Drive), have been completely abandoned.

6. The city briefly considered tearing down city hall

It wouldn’t be a Philly wedding without a photo overlooking city hall. But if the city planners during the 1950s had their way, we might be looking at a giant traffic circle in the center of town. Thankfully, any conversations surrounding demolition of city hall were grounded because of the immense cost to remove a structure of that size.


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