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Penn & the Making of University City

September 28 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Looking south on 36th Street from Walnut in 1954 and today | Top photo courtesy phillyhistory.org

$15 Hidden City members (become a member here)
$10 Student
$20 General Admission

The University of Pennsylvania’s leafy campus looks like its been there since the Ivy League school’s founding, but much of it is a recent creation. Between 1955 and 1975 Penn worked with City and State officials to radically transform the area between 32nd to 40th, and Spruce to Market, closing streets, undergrounding the Woodland Avenue trolley line and tearing down numerous row houses, including much of the neighborhood known as the “Black Bottom.” This tour will explore how Penn used the powerful urban redevelopment mechanisms created after World War II to acquire land and fund new construction for the rapidly growing university. We’ll also take a look at the evolution of Penn’s relationship with the surrounding community, from the defensive urbanism of the 70s and 80s to the creation of the Penn Alexander School and housing subsidy program for university employees during the presidency of Judy Rodin.

But let’s not forget the architecture! Penn’s campus features some of Philly’s most magnificent buildings, including the Fisher Fine Arts Library designed by Frank Furness (we’ll peek our heads in), College Hall and the Quadrangle Dormitories. It is also home to a healthy amount of 1960s brutalism, and we’ll talk about that, too.

Don’t miss this chance to learn about how Philadelphia’s most prestigious and powerful institution reshaped its surroundings. We promise you’ll never look at University City the same way again!

Questions, concerns, conundrums? Contact Hidden City project director Pete Woodall at 267-259-7112 or pwoodall@hiddencityphila.org

Tour guide Julia Marchetti moved to West Philly to study City and Regional Planning and Historic Preservation at The University of Pennsylvania. Her favorite topics are the Rural Cemetery Movement and The Movie Palace Era. She is interested in the intersection of sustainability and preservation as well as active and collaborative community engagement. Julia has a love for Philadelphia’s park system, historic architecture, vibrant music scene, and wealth of donuts shops.


September 28
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


40th and Baltimore, northeast corner
3940 Baltimore Ave.
Philadelphia, PA United States


Pete Woodall