Philadelphia’s Free Library

There is something regal but forlorn about Philadelphia's public architecture. It’s the grand stone staircases and cavernous lobbies, awkwardly adapted with signage and security desks, half plunging into shadow, half basking in green florescent light. 

The Free Library of Philadelphia was chartered in 1891 by Dr. William Pepper with a $225,000 bequest from his uncle. The current central library building on Logan Square was modeled after eighteenth-century French architecture by the prolific Philadelphia firm of Horace Trumbauer. It opened to the public in 1927.

The library system now has over 60 branches and hosts 25,000 events each year, including business services, author talks and cooking classes—freelibrary.org.