Hotel Review: Canopy by Hilton Philadelphia Center City

The Canopy's rather snazzy lobby

By Jonathan Spira on 28 July 2021
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Coordinating the opening of a hotel is a big deal no matter when it happens, but doing so in the midst of a raging pandemic is not only an achievement worthy of note but one fraught with some degree of peril.

The managers of the Canopy by Hilton Philadelphia Center City did just that and the hotel, located in the East Market development opened its doors to guests in August of last year in a vibrant development of shops, restaurants, offices, apartments, and hotels.

You can’t, however, tell the story of the Canopy by Hilton Philadelphia, however, without telling the story of banker and philanthropist Stephen Girard.

Fried-to-order doughnuts await you in the Federal Donuts adjacent to the reception area

This is because the hotel is located in the historic Stephen Girard Building, a 124-year-old structure that Girard himself, who died in 1831, never set foot in.  Girard was a philanthropist and banker who in 1793, when Philadelphia was the nation’s capital and being ravaged by yellow fever, became somewhat of a hero and legend who not only volunteered at a makeshift hospital but organized meals for the sick, instituted sanitation standards, and hired pharmacists to help the afflicted.

Girard, who was born in Bordeaux, France, as Étienne Girard, became a naturalized citizen and one of the wealthiest men in the country. He is credited with propping up the U.S. government during the War of 1812 and, at the time of his death, bequeathed much of his fortune to charitable and municipal institutions, a bequest that has since been managed by the Board of City Trusts. The Board erected the Beaux Arts skyscraper in 1897, which was constructed of grey brick, terra cotta, and Indiana limestone that, inside, featured a dazzling lobby lined with white polished Italian marble with an imposing marble staircase to the second floor.

The hotel’s owners, working with BLT Architects, undertook to preserve many of the original Beaux-Arts elements while creating a thoroughly modern design in order to create the Canopy Philadelphia.

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