Architecture Tours

Emergence of a Modern Metropolis: Philadelphia

COLD SEASON (Nov-Mar): Saturdays Only @ 2pm
WARM SEASON (Apr-Oct): Every-other Tuesday/Thursday, and every Saturday @ 2pm
$20 per adult, $5 per child under 12

Find Full Schedule + Purchase Tickets Here

Experience the transformation of Philadelphia from an engine of industry to a 21st century capital of business and culture. This 2-hour tour explores Philadelphia's diverse range of architectural styles and building technologies from the 1860s to the present, detailing the social, economic, and political forces that shaped the modern cityscape. It is divided into three parts:

     Era 1 - Late Victorian / Post Civil War (1870 - 1890)
           A period of architectural eclecticism
           Stone-age building techniques (masonry) with lots of ornamentation

     Era 2 - Birth of the Skyscraper (1890 1930)
           The adaptation of old forms to new functions
           Steel-frame construction disguised behind stone with some ornamentation

     Era 3 - The Modern City (1930 present)
           A period of Modernism & Post-Modernism
           Curtain wall building technique allows vast, minimalist, glass surfaces

Highlights include the spectacular Victorian interior of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (PAFA); the soaring central court of Philadelphia's first department store, Wanamaker's; and the atrium of the Comcast Center, Pennsylvania's tallest sky scraper.

IF YOU PURCHASED AN ONLINE DEAL (Groupon, LivingSocial, Amazon, etc.), PLEASE CALL THE RECEPTIONIST AT THE CENTER TO REDEEM YOUR OFFER AND SCHEDULE YOUR TOUR: (215) 569.3186.

Preparing For Your Tour:

  • Wear comfortable shoes!
  • Please arrive early - tours depart promptly on time
  • Tours last for 2 hours and are conducted rain or shine
  • Tour routes and sites are wheelchair accessible, except for the interior of PAFA
  • Tickets for tours cancelled due to extreme weather events (blizzard, hurricane, extreme heat, etc.) may be exchanged for the same tour at a future date

Group Tours:

Group Tours for parties of 10 or more are available at $15 per ticket ($150 minimum). Reservations may be made via our online ticketing link above if you would like your group tour at one of our regularly scheduled times. School Groups can schedule group tours at $5 per student and $15 per adult ($125 minimum). This tour is recommended for grades 4-12.

If you would like to schedule a group tour at a custom time or a school group at any time, we ask that reservations be made at least three weeks in advance by contacting the Center's Associate Director at 215.569.3186 x107 or via email at .

More Walking Tours Of Philadelphia:

If you are interested in additional walking tours of Philadelphia, we recommend the tours offered by the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. Preservation Alliance tours focus mainly on different architectural themes (art deco, sacred sites, etc.) and the many neighborhoods of Philadelphia (Bella Vista, Manayunk, etc.). Many of these tours are given by the same dedicated volunteer guides who present the Center's Emergence of a Modern Metropolis tour.