top of page

The Planning of Center City Philadelphia

From William Penn to the Present​



When William Penn founded the colony of Pennsylvania in 1682, he and his surveyor, Thomas Holme, created a visionary plan for its principal city, Philadelphia, and the immediate surrounding region. Over the past 325 years that plan has been modified by many individuals to reflect an evolving vision of a city both beautiful and practical.


The Planning of Center City Philadelphia: From William Penn to the Present traces these three centuries of planning history from Penn’s original concept to the design of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway—one of the significant monuments of the City Beautiful movement in the United States—to the mid-20th century urban renewal efforts that made Philadelphia  a national leader in city planning and urban revitalization. Illustrated with historic maps and photographs, the book also includes brief biographical sketches of nine Philadelphians who have contributed significantly to the practice of city planning including Paul Philippe Cret, Edmund N. Bacon, David A. Wallace and Denise Scott Brown. Also included are maps of five walking tours of Center City where the results of this planning history can be seen and experienced most easily, along with many of the city’s most significant architectural landmarks.


The Planning of Center City: From William Penn to the Present, is a project of the Center for Architecture, a non-profit institution founded by the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Profits from the sale of the book go to support programs of the Center.



Available from

Your local bookstore, or

Paul Dry Books, - $9.95

Also available from 

bottom of page