It happened around 4:20 a.m. Friday at 20th Street and the Parkway near the Franklin Institute.
Police said three vehicles were involved in the incident, but only one of the vehicles crashed.
Witnesses told investigators they saw the cars speeding down Vine Street before one of the drivers lost control.
The driver swerved to miss street closure cones that are in place due to the nearby homeless encampment, according to police.
UPDATE: Police say the speeding driver swerved to avoid hitting cones that were blocking the road toward the homeless encampment. The car then crashed into a tree and pole along the Parkway at 20th Street.— Corey Davis (@CoreyDavis6abc) September 25, 2020
A 20-year-old man died and a woman suffered serious injuries. @6abc pic.twitter.com/Ht3SfwOKxI
The driver stuck the center median and then lost control.
The car crashed into a tree and a pole on the opposite side of the Parkway.
All of the airbags deployed during the impact and the car's battery ended up being launched several feet away.
Investigators said a total of four passengers were in the car, but are not sure yet who was actually driving the vehicle.
Police said the man died from his injuries and the woman was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
POSSIBLE DRAG RACING:— Corey Davis (@CoreyDavis6abc) September 25, 2020
Police now say at least three cars were speeding when one crashed into a tree and pole on the Ben Franklin Parkway. A man inside that car was killed and a woman was seriously injured. Officers haven’t ruled out drag racing but are gathering more info. @6abc pic.twitter.com/g1yoHTMVx9
People in the other two cars stayed on scene and spoke with police.
Officers are still working to confirm whether the people in all three cars knew each other.
Accident investigators were forced to shut down the Parkway between 20th and 21st streets for an more than three hours as they tried to recreate the accident.
Police haven't ruled out drag racing but are gathering more information.
The Philadelphia Streets Department is working to clean up the rest of the debris left behind as investigators look into possible charges in this case.