Crack found in Phila. City Hall tower

PHILADELPHIA - September 22, 2011

Tours at City Hall have been suspended until further notice until engineers can assess the damage and a full scale inspection is completed.

"Earlier this week, a worker found some stones on the roof at City Hall, they noticed a crack on one of the balconies," said Richard Negrin, the City Managing Director.

The balcony is on the north side of the City Hall Clock Tower.

Photos from city officials show that the crack in the marble is fairly sizable and that's the reason why they decided to take immediate action

"We do believe it is related to the earthquake, that's a possibility so it is kind of a cautionary tale I think of anybody out there who manages buildings should be looking at their buildings to make sure they're safe," said Negrin.

What's not clear is whether the cracks happened at the time of the earthquake in August or developed over time since then.

Construction on the grand iconic structure began 140 years ago in 1871.

Taking over 30 years to complete the first floor is built of solid granite, 22 feet thick in some places, supporting a brick structure faced with marble.

With almost 700 rooms, City Hall is the largest municipal building in the country and the world's second tallest masonry building.

"Look, it's one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, we're going to do everything we can to make sure it's repaired, quickly," said Negrin.

Then, there's the unknown. Might that earthquake have caused other damage that has been standing for almost a half century?

"We're going to go throughout the building extensively and do a comprehensive analysis, basically check it for anything else," said Joseph Palantino, the Deputy Public Property Commissioner.

The good news is, officials believe it's safe from any catastrophic problem and they say there's no reason to believe the entire balcony will collapse.

The public need not worry about falling debris because it's shielded by the roof.

Work will begin Friday at 7:00 a.m. Officials say repairs could take up to a month.

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