Philadelphia Sights

Fisher Fine Arts Library

  • 220 S. 34th St. Map It
  • University City
  • Library/Archive

Published 01/10/2017

Fodor's Review

One of the finest examples remaining of the work of Philadelphia architect Frank Furness, this was the most innovative library building in the country when it opened in 1891. It was the first library to separate the reading room and the stacks. Peek into the reading room, dominated by a huge fireplace, and with study alcoves lit from skylights above. The unusual exterior stirred controversy when it was built: note the terra-cotta panels, short heavy columns, and gargoyles on the north end. The mottoes inscribed on many of the surviving leaded-glass windows were chosen by Horace Howard Furness, Frank's older brother and a Shakespeare scholar on the Penn faculty. Energetic visitors should consider making the long, Victorian climb up the main staircase to see the upper half of the tower. The less-energetic can take the modern elevator to the 4th floor.

Sight Information


220 S. 34th St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104, USA

Map It



Sight Details:

  • Free; need photo ID; admittance is more restricted in late evening, weekends, and during exam periods; check website for details
  • Library may be closed or restricted to the public during exams and campus events

Published 01/10/2017


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