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.