Philadelphia Civic Center

Philadelphia Civic Center

The Philadelphia Civic Center was a complex of five or more buildings evolved out of a series of buildings dedicated to expanding trade which began with the National Export Exhibition in 1899. There were two important buildings on the site. The Commercial Museum, built in 1899, was one of the original exposition buildings. The Municipal Auditorium (Convention Hall), built in 1931, Philip H. Johnson, architect. The site was host to national political conventions in 1900, 1936, 1940 and 1948.


The Convention Hall arena was located at 3400 Civic Center Blvd, on the edge of the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, and just to the southwest of Franklin Field. It was built in 1930 and its highest capacity was approximately 12,000. The building was an Art Deco landmark, notable for its many friezes and other decorative aspects.



Originally known as the Municipal Auditorium, the Convention Hall hosted many public events, including the 1936 and 1948 Democratic National Conventions, the 1940 and 1948 Republican National Conventions, and the 1960 NBA All-Star Game. Thus the building earned the name Convention Hall. Pope John Paul II, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela all spoke there, and the Beatles and the famous Philadelphia Mummers both performed there. The Philadelphia Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers both played many of their games in the arena.


After the building of The Spectrum in South Philadelphia in 1967, the building nearly became obsolete. The building was later used for Atlantic Ten Conference and Big Five basketball games, NWA and WCW professional wrestling events, which included three pay-per-view events: Halloween Havoc in 1989 and 1992 and the 1994 Slamboree event. The Civic Center also hosted the World Hockey Association's Philadelphia Blazers and the minor-league Philadelphia Firebirds hockey teams. The University of Pennsylvania used the building for commencements (due to it being larger than Penn's own basketball arena, the nearby Palestra), as did Drexel University and La Salle University.

Convention Hall was torn down in 2005, after more than a decade without a regular tenant. The 1996 Atlantic 10 Men's basketball tournament was the last event ever held there (its convention functions were taken over by the Pennsylvania Convention Center in the city's central business district). Afterwards, it served as a soundstage for movies and the TV series "Hack" starring David Morse. In addition, part of the 1990 movie "Rocky V" was shot there. In 1994 metal band Megadeth played a legendary show with Corrosion of Conformity.

The Auditorium's M.P. Moller 86-rank pipe organ, built in 1931, was removed just prior to the building's demolition and placed in Pennsylvania Hall in temporary storage. In October 2006 the organ was donated to the University of Oklahoma's, American Organ Institute [] where it will be restored and become the centerpiece of their music programs.

The last remants of the Civic Center, Pennsylvania Hall, built in 1978, was imploded on March 5, 2007. Construction on the site has begun by the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) to create the [| Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine] , scheduled to open in 2008.

External links

* [ Photos of the Civic Center prior to destruction] including details of the preservation efforts
* []

succession box
title = Home of the
Philadelphia Warriors
years = 1952 – 1962
before = Philadelphia Arena
after = Cow Palace
succession box
title = Home of the
Philadelphia 76ers
years = 1963 – 1967
before = Onondaga War Memorial
after = The Spectrum
succession box
title = Home of the
La Salle Explorers
years = 1989 – 1996
before = Palestra
after = First Union Spectrum
succession box
title = Host of the Democratic National Convention
years = 1936
before = Chicago Stadium

Chicago Stadium
after = Chicago Stadium
International Amphitheatre
succession box
title = Host of the Republican National Convention
years = 1900
before = St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall
Public Auditorium
Chicago Stadium
after = Chicago Coliseum
Chicago Stadium
International Amphitheatre
succession box
title = Host of the
NBA All-Star Game
years = 1960
before = Olympia Stadium
after = Onondaga County War Memorial Coliseum

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