Philadelphia City Institute

Philadelphia City Institute is temporarily closed.

Friday, September 18 – Message from Staff

Material Pick-Up Appointments are available:

Monday September 21, 4 pm - 6:30 pm
Tuesday September 22, 10 am - 4 pm
Wednesday September 23, 10 am - 4 pm
Thursday September 24, 10 am - 4 pm
Friday September 25, 10 am - 1 pm

Please call 215-685-6621 to schedule an appointment for material pick-up. Phone reference is available Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Our book return slot is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Returned items are quarantined for 7 days and will remain on your record during quarantine.

1905 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-5730
19th & Locust on W. Rittenhouse Square
Learn about limited services at the Free Library.
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Located on the first floor and lower level of a high-rise apartment building on the northwest corner 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.


The Philadelphia City Institute Board of Managers is a non-profit organization that has supported a free library in Center City, Philadelphia for 163 years. The Philadelphia City Institute Library (PCI) has had three locations: first, in 1855, on the northeast corner of 18th and Chestnut Streets; since 1956, at 1905 Locust Street, facing Rittenhouse Square. Today, the PCI Library functions 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.”

A mural by noted Philadelphia artist David McShane greets visitors to the library. Commissioned by the Friends of PCI in 2000, the mural reflects the history and mission of the branch and the diversity of the community it serves.