Philadelphia City Institute

1905 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-5730
19th & Locust on W. Rittenhouse Square
Open today 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday Closed
Monday 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Thursday 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Friday 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday Closed

Upcoming Closures

  • Mon., Feb. 20 : Closed Presidents' Day
  • Fri., Apr. 7 : Closed Good Friday
  • Sun., Apr. 9 : Closed Easter
  • Mon., May. 29 : Closed Memorial Day
View all holiday closings

Services By Appointment

Services

Facilities

  • Bicycle rack
  • Book drop box
  • Computers for public use
  • Printing (black/white)
  • Public restrooms
  • Street parking
  • Wireless internet access (wi/fi)
  • Scanner

Upcoming Events

Intermediate English

Mon, February 6, 2023 4:00 P.M.

Learn and practice English for daily life in this in-person course taught by the University of Pennsylvania graduate students. You will acquire English listening and speaking skills and practice…

Virtual Yoga-Based Movement Workshop

Mon, February 6, 2023 6:00 P.M.

Join us for a yoga-based movement workshop with instructor Michele Tantoco. Please email hoopese@freelibrary.org for the Zoom registration link. This program series is generously sponsored by the…

From Armstrong to Bridges: Celebrating a Century of Genius in Black American Music

Tue, February 7, 2023 4:30 P.M.

Join us for a live musical performance spotlighting the compositions of some of the most influential Black artists of the last 100 years. Expect a fun and diverse journey through the music of…

Movie Matinee

Wed, February 8, 2023 2:00 P.M.

Join us for a screening of a newly released film in our downstairs meeting room. Please contact the library for movie titles (215-685-6621).  

About

Located on the first floor and lower level of a high-rise apartment building on the west side of Rittenhouse Square, PCI serves the communities of Rittenhouse Square, Fitler Square, and people who live and work in Center City west of Broad Street.

History

The Philadelphia City Institute Board of Managers is a non-profit organization that has supported a free library in Center City, Philadelphia since 1855. The Philadelphia City Institute Library (PCI) has had three locations first, in 1855, on the northeast corner of 18th and Chestnut Streets. It moved to 218 S 19th St in 1923. In 1956 it moved to the current location at 1905 Locust Street, facing Rittenhouse Square. This independent library joined the city wide Free Library of Philadelphia system in 1944.  Today, the PCI Library continues to function as a branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. The PCI Managers maintain ownership of the premises and the assets; with endowment income, they also provide operational support and funding for augmented staff, new materials, and equipment.

The PCI Board of Managers’ object was “the promotion of the moral and intellectual improvement of young persons by means of a Library and Reading Room, Lectures and class instruction, and such other measures as the Board of Managers may adopt.” Weekly lectures by prominent Philadelphians and free night schools were important activities of PCI in its early years. Initially these were reserved for young men, but PCI soon decided to “extend the advantages of the Institute to females.”