The city has asked the protesters to move to make way for a long-planned $50 million renovation of their current home, Dilworth Plaza.
After a vote Thursday, protesters began packing up their approximately 350 tents and moving across the street to the Thomas Paine Plaza. But they were rebuffed by police because they didn't have a permit for the new location.
With the protesters back at their original home for now, they are now working to get permits for the new site, said Occupy Philadelphia member Chris Goldstein. At least two different groups of protesters within the group are trying to get permits, Goldstein said. "Both groups are showing a willingness to try to work within the city's guidelines," he said.
A spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter said Friday that the city had received one permit application and was reviewing it, a process that could take until early next week.
"We're looking at it," Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said. "We didn't ask them to go anywhere without a permit."
Thursday night's move back to the original site was peaceful and there were no arrests, according to Philadelphia police. Hours earlier, about two dozen protesters were arrested peacefully for blocking a downtown bridge during a march decrying income inequality.
The Occupy Philadelphia protest is aimed at condemning the influence of big corporations on government and economic disparity, and showing solidarity with Occupy Wall Street in New York.
Last week, protesters voted not to move from their City Hall site, despite the city's request that they do so. This week, the city posted notices telling them to leave, and unions expressed concern that the encampment was standing in the way of a project that would employ nearly 1,000 people. That prompted a second vote Thursday, in which protesters decided to move.
Occupy Philadelphia didn't have a permit for the City Hall site when the protest began more than a month ago. Eventually, they got one, but the city told them they needed to be out by the time construction began.
Now, the city says they need to leave that site, but will need a permit to go somewhere else.
"They're not going to be allowed to go to a place without a permit," McDonald said.