Thousands visit Philadelphia City Hall

January 8, 2008 9:54:46 PM PST
Thousands of citizens responded to an invitation from new Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to come to City Hall.

"City Hall belongs to all Philadelphians. Making real progress will take all of us working together," said Nutter, who promised to stay and shake hands with every visitor. "I hope that, under my administration, this is a place where the public feels welcome and visits often."

Long lines of guests entered through the building's North Entrance. They ascended the grand stairway into the Conversation Hall, where Mayor Nutter shook hands, gave an autograph or shared in a prayer. For all, the City Hall open house was an opportunity worth the wait.

Salvatore Sandone waited in line for two hours so his 12-year-old daughter could meet Mayor Nutter. The huge turnout surprised even the mayor. It became clear after the line wrapped around City Hall that the open house would not end at 8:00 as planned.

"This is our city," Nutter said. "And it's the people's hall and I wanted folks to have an opportunity to see it and experience it in a very different way, rather than just walking by this big, gray building every day."

Nutter stayed about two hours later than planned to accomodate all those who wanted to meet him.

As guests left Conversation Hall, they had the opportunity to visit the Mayor's Reception Room. Guides from City Hall Tours answered questions about the unique history of the building and its occupants. William Penn and Ben Franklin were also on hand to help commemorate the day.

In the courtyard tent, Culinary Arts students from the Philadelphia School District served hot chocolate, cookies and other refreshments.

Entertainment included the University of the Arts bucket drummers, "Rumble;" Pyramid Temple #1 Youth Department Drum Corp and the West Powelton Steppers and Drum Squad; the choirs and marching bands from Girard Academic Music Program and the Creative and Performance Arts High School; the Kids' Band from the New Year's Shooters and Mummers Association.

Permanent architectural lighting improvements made to the portal archways through the generous support of the Center City District, funded by a grant from the Commerce Department, were also unveiled tonight.