Philadelphia, PA – William H. Gray III 30th Street Station (PHL)
Featuring massive porticoes, a soaring concourse and beautiful works of art, William H. Gray III 30th Street Station is a bustling intermodal center and national transportation landmark.
William H. Gray III 30th Street Station
2955 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Annual Station Ridership (FY 2021): 1,500,043
- Facility Ownership: Amtrak
- Parking Lot Ownership: Amtrak, Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority (PEDFA) - Amtrak owns the parking beneath the station; PEDFA owns the parking garage.
- Platform Ownership: Amtrak
- Track Ownership: Amtrak
Philadelphia’s famed William H. Gray III 30th Street Station was built between 1929 and 1933 by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) to replace the Broad Street Station that had become much too congested to support the city’s growth. Designed by Alfred Shaw of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, the enormous, eight-story steel frame building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978. It is an example of some of the railroad industry’s most monumental construction and is architecturally interesting for its use, adaptation and transformation of the Neoclassical style into a more modern, streamlined Art Deco style. The exterior of the building features typical neoclassical elements such as seventy-one-foot-high Corinthian columns forming impressive porticoes on the east and west facades, rendered in Alabama limestone.
The interior of the station, meanwhile, is notable for both its stylistic and functional elements. The Main Concourse measures 290 by 135 feet with a 95-foot-high coffered ceiling and beautiful Art Deco chandeliers. It is lined by gilded and ornamented columns that contrast with the more austere classicism of the façade as well as by five-story-high cathedral-like windows. The floor, made of Tennessee marble, completes the sense of opulence of this impressive room.
When it was built, novel functional features were designed into the complex to increase the utility of the building by giving it an efficient communications system without removing any of the desired monumentality. These features include an elaborate buzzer and intercom system new to those days, as well as an integrated pneumatic tube network for internal communications. The building also incorporated unusual spaces including a chapel, a mortuary and 3,300 square feet of hospital space – not traditional elements in a busy transportation hub. Capping off this most forward-thinking of structures, the architects reinforced the concrete roof of the concourse section to allow a landing space for small aircraft.
William H. Gray III 30th Street Station also represents a milestone in the progression of American railroading and urban planning. One of the last of the major urban stations to be constructed, it was part of an overall central city improvement program begun in 1925 by the City of Philadelphia and the PRR called the Philadelphia Improvements project. This decades-long effort to reestablish a plan for the city’s urban core, which also led to the creation of the famous Benjamin Franklin Parkway, was borne out of the desire to simplify and beautify its streetscape and ease the growing congestion closer to the center of town.
At the same time, this station is rare in that it is one of the few in the country where trains arrive and depart from all four directions: from Boston in the north to Florida in the south, and from Atlantic City in the east to Chicago in the west. Facilitating this rare versatility, the station’s use of underground tracks for long-distance trains passing through the station marked the railroad’s commitment to electricity as a preferable source of energy for trains, continuing the gradual replacement of steam—itself a radical paradigm shift in the industry.
Over the years, impressive monuments have been added to the station’s public spaces. Visitors can find Karl Bitter’s 1895 bas-relief, The Spirit of Transportation, in the North Waiting Room off the Main Concourse. Occupying almost the entire west wall, it depicts the progress of transportation; a central female figure sits in a horse-drawn carriage, while children cradle models of a steamship, steam locomotive and dirigible. Also prominently displayed is Walker Hancock’s Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial, a sculpture of the Archangel Michael lifting a dead soldier’s body out of the flames of war. Cast in 1950, the memorial honors the 1,307 PRR employees who died in military service during World War II, out of the 54,035 who served.
In spring 2022, Amtrak revealed a new custom art exhibit designed by longtime customer and local artist Virginia Maksymowicz. Located in the North Waiting Room, it is a 14×10 foot replica map of the Amtrak network. Titled Tools of the Trade, the sculpture is composed of tools cast in low-density urethane resin; casts of spikes and bolts suggest mountains, and S-curved wrenches, calipers and railroad clips signify water. The work is meant to make visible the often-invisible role that railroad workers play in building and maintaining Amtrak’s infrastructure.
From 1988-1991, Amtrak led a $75 million development effort to renovate the station as it neared its 60th anniversary. The company assembled a team that included Hines Interests, project manager; Dan Peter Kopple & Associates (DPKA), consulting architects; and Clark/Hyman, contractor; as well as numerous subcontractors. The project included the restoration of the Main Concourse, with special attention given to its ceiling, chandeliers, travertine walls and massive marble columns.
Restoration experts repaired broken fingers and other elements of The Spirit of Transportation, while metal elements on the Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial were cleaned and sealed with a fresh coat of protective wax. Above the passenger areas, approximately 280,000 square feet of office space was modernized to house 1,500 Amtrak employees. New shops, stores and food vendors were installed in the South Arcade and South Concourse. Outside, the facades were also refurbished and a former mail handling facility was converted into a 420-space underground parking garage.
As a major transportation hub and West Philadelphia landmark, William H. Gray III 30th Street Station continues to be an anchor for development. In 2004, investors broke ground on the construction of the Cira Center, a 29-story office building designed by architect César Pelli. Completed the following year, the new building both stands on ground leased from Amtrak and also includes a skyway connecting it to a parking lot and the station. Designed by the same architect who built the world-famous Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia, the striking new building marks both the evolution and continuation of the station’s unique and innovative history.
In recent years, the state, city and civic organizations have undertaken numerous efforts to enhance the streetscape and pedestrian zones around the station by widening sidewalks and creating safer street crossings. As part of these efforts, in 2011 the University City District, working with PennDOT, created “The Porch” between the station and Market Street. An inviting and active public space, it includes seating, shade trees and colorful seasonal plantings, as well as a full schedule of activities. The end result has been a busier public space that attracts nearby office workers, students and local residents.
In 2014, the U.S. Congress passed a law to rename what was then “30th Street Station” in honor of former U.S. Representative William Herbert Gray III, who represented Pennsylvania in that body from 1979 until 1991.
Born in Louisiana to parents who were both educators, Gray spent his early childhood in Florida. The family moved to Philadelphia in 1949 when his father took over the pastoral position at Bright Hope Baptist Church vacated by the recently deceased William Gray Sr. The younger Gray followed in his grandfather and father’s footsteps by entering the ministry, receiving master’s degrees in divinity and theology. He later assumed the pastor position at Bright Hope and rose to prominence as an activist with an interest in community housing and unemployment issues.
In Congress Gray was a member of the House Budget, Foreign Affairs and Appropriations committees, and he served as the first African American chairman of the Budget Committee. In 1989 Gray achieved another milestone when he became the Democratic Majority Whip, the third–ranking leadership position in the House of Representatives. Following his departure from Congress, Gray served as president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund for more than a decade.
Also in 2014, Amtrak, Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust selected Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), in association with Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN, and HR&A Advisors, to develop a comprehensive joint master plan for the area around the station. The SOM team aimed to develop an integrated, long-term vision where the station is at the epicenter of a dynamic, urban neighborhood full of opportunities for community development, economic development and improved transportation connections. The project team engaged a wide range of stakeholders from across the city and its neighborhoods, soliciting feedback and synthesizing ideas collected during open houses, community events and other public meetings.
Unveiled in June 2016, the joint master plan envisions 40 new acres of open space and 18 million square feet of new development, including an entirely new mixed-use neighborhood anchoring the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station District atop 88 acres of rail yards along the western bank of the Schuylkill River. With a proposed $2 billion investment in roads, utilities, parks, bridges and extension of transit services, the plan has the estimated potential to unlock $4.5 billion in private real estate investment, in addition to $3.5 billion for Drexel’s adjacent Schuylkill Yards project being developed by Brandywine Realty Trust.
In early 2017, the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station District Plan was honored with the architecture industry’s most prestigious award – an Institute Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design from the American Institute of Architects. The District Plan was selected from more than 500 submissions from around the world.
Amtrak, in June 2020, selected Plenary Infrastructure Philadelphia (PIP), a team with international expertise, to form a master development partnership via ground lease for the renovation of the station. The key team members who will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the station include Plenary Americas USA Ltd., one of the largest dedicated, public-private partnership developers in North America, who has partnered with Gilbane Building Company, Johnson Controls Inc. and Vantage Airport Group Ltd.
The master development partnership will restore and highlight the historic fabric of the majestic station, while heightening the level of customer experience by introducing new amenities, reinvigorating the structure’s retail and commercial potential, improving and expanding existing office space and enhancing transit and pedestrian traffic flows.
Philadelphia’s history is older than that of the United States. Europeans arrived in the Delaware Valley area in the early 1600s, led by Dutch, British and Swedish settlers. In 1681, however, Charles II of England granted William Penn a charter for what would eventually become Pennsylvania. In an unusual example of understanding and generosity, Penn also bought the land from the local Lenape Native Americans so as to establish his colony on good faith and, he hoped, ensure it peace. A Quaker, Penn had known persecution firsthand in England and wanted his new colony to be a place of free worship. He founded the city of Philadelphia nearby where he made his treaty of friendship with the Lenape chief, naming the city for philos, “love”, and adelphos, “brother”—explaining Philadelphia’s nickname as the “City of Brotherly Love.”
Philadelphia’s growth into a major American town was prefigured from its very early days. Although Penn’s plan for the city was to keep it rural with a basic grid plan that spread out houses and businesses on large parcels of land, the city’s inhabitants quickly subdivided and resold their lots, building up the area around the Delaware River especially quickly, and turning it into an important trading center. Before Penn left Philadelphia for the last time, he issued the Charter of 1701 officially establishing Philadelphia as a city. It continued to grow at breakneck speed, and soon enough the quality of living conditions deteriorated significantly, as might be expected of a booming trading town.
By the 1750s, however, those conditions had improved. Playing a significant role in this change was Philadelphia’s most famous resident, printer, inventor and revolutionary: Benjamin Franklin. Franklin helped improve some city services and founded new ones, including the British Colonies’ first hospital. Later – before, during and after the Revolutionary War – Philadelphia’s status as one of the Colonies’ major cities and its relatively central location led to its hosting the First Continental Congress to organize state opposition, the Second Continental Congress that signed the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitutional Convention that gave the Unites States the form of government it has today. Several important Revolutionary War battles were fought in Philadelphia’s environs, and it served as the temporary U.S. capital in the 1790s before turning that honor over to the new District of Columbia.
Since then Philadelphia has continued to be a major American metropolis. Though the state government left in 1799, the federal government decamped in 1800, and New York City soon surpassed Philadelphia in population, the construction of roads, canals and railroads helped turn Philadelphia into the United States’ first major industrial city. Through the rest of the century “Philly” would play host to a large variety of industries and businesses, the largest being textiles. As a symbol of its status, Philadelphia also held the Centennial Exposition in 1876, the first official World’s Fair in the United States.
The 20th Century brought many of the same challenges to Philadelphia that other major cities faced at the time. The Great Depression created massive urban poverty, followed by the rapid growth of jobs and the economy after World War II. This in turn brought new tests for the city including overcrowding and the need to improve the city’s infrastructure, as well as difficulties with crime and corruption. In 1950 the city adopted a new charter strengthening the mayor and weakening the city council in an effort to address some of the population’s complaints. The city struggled through the Civil Rights Movement along with the rest of the country, and saw both growing suburbanization outside of the city and increased redevelopment in areas such as Center City and University City. By the 1990s new investment would help bring Philadelphia out of near bankruptcy, and the city continues to change and evolve at a rapid pace. The changes to William H. Gray III 30th Street Station are a fitting symbol of the city’s monumental history, novel roots and enduring significance.
The Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian are financed primarily through funds made available by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Station Building (with waiting room)
- ATM available
- Metropolitan Lounge
- No payphones
- Quik-Trak kiosks
- Ticket sales office
- Unaccompanied child travel allowed
- Vending machines
- Amtrak WiFi available
- Arrive at least 45 minutes prior to departure if you're checking baggage or need ticketing/passenger assistance
- Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure if you're not checking baggage or don't need assistance
- Amtrak Express shipping not available
- Checked baggage service available
- Checked baggage storage available
- Bike boxes for sale
- No baggage carts
- Ski bags not available
- Bag storage
- Shipping Boxes for sale
- Baggage assistance provided by Red Caps
- Same-day parking is available for a fee
- Overnight parking is available for a fee
- No payphones
- Accessible platform
- Accessible restrooms
- Accessible ticket office
- Accessible waiting room
- Accessible water fountain
- Same-day, accessible parking is available for a fee
- Overnight, accessible parking is available for a fee
- High platform
- Wheelchair available
- Wheelchair lift available
Station Waiting Room Hours
Ticket Office Hours
|Mon||05:15 am - 09:45 pm|
|Tue||05:15 am - 09:45 pm|
|Wed||05:15 am - 09:45 pm|
|Thu||05:15 am - 09:45 pm|
|Fri||05:15 am - 09:45 pm|
|Sat||06:10 am - 09:45 pm|
|Sun||06:10 am - 09:45 pm|
Passenger Assistance Hours
Checked Baggage Service
|Mon||06:30 am - 10:30 pm|
|Tue||06:30 am - 10:30 pm|
|Wed||06:30 am - 10:30 pm|
|Thu||06:30 am - 10:30 pm|
|Fri||06:30 am - 10:30 pm|
|Sat||06:30 am - 10:30 pm|
|Sun||06:30 am - 10:30 pm|
|Mon||05:00 am - 11:00 pm|
|Tue||05:00 am - 11:00 pm|
|Wed||05:00 am - 11:00 pm|
|Thu||05:00 am - 11:00 pm|
|Fri||05:00 am - 11:00 pm|
|Sat||05:00 am - 11:00 pm|
|Sun||05:00 am - 11:00 pm|
Quik-Track Kiosk Hours
|Mon||06:00 am - 09:00 pm|
|Tue||06:00 am - 09:00 pm|
|Wed||06:00 am - 09:00 pm|
|Thu||06:00 am - 09:00 pm|
|Fri||06:00 am - 09:00 pm|
|Sat||06:00 am - 09:00 pm|
|Sun||06:00 am - 09:00 pm|
Amtrak Express Hours