The Broad Street Subway – A Guide for Visitors to Philadelphia

Broad Street Subway

SEPTA sign at the entrance to the Broad Street Subway, in the City Hall Courtyard, located at the intersection of Broad and Market Streets.

The Broad Street Subway - variously known as the Broad Street Line, the Orange Line, or in Philadelphia parlance, "the subway", are all simply different names, for the same SEPTA entity. Namely, it is a subway which runs north and south from the top of Broad Street in North Philadelphia, to its end in South Philadelphia.

If You Are Visiting From Out of Town, Or If You're a Local Who Is Not Familiar with SEPTA

If you are visiting from out of town, or if you're a local Philadelphian, who doesn't use SEPTA much, this is the section for you.

The Broad Street Subway is perhaps the most difficult SEPTA line to navigate, if you aren't familiar with it. Although - to their credit - SEPTA has drastically improved the signage over the past few years, it can still be confusing.

On this page, for clarity, we're only going to discuss subway stops, that are near major Philadelphia tourist attractions. so if you're looking for a stop that isn't specifically addressed here, we'd recommend the official SEPTA site.

We've listed them in descending geographical order - not in order of importance, and we haven't listed all of them. All of these intersections are named after the cross street(s) of Broad Street, at that stop.

NEW -- A Comprehensive Guide To Taking SEPTA To Citizens Bank Park

Added, Sunday, August 15, 2010...

For complete directions, and a guide on how to better enjoy Phillies baseball at Citizens Bank Park via SEPTA and the Broad Street Subway, just click on our new SEPTA to Citizens Bank Park Guide page, a highly detailed, and all-encompassing guide on the best ways of getting to the gorgeous ballpark in South Philadelphia, via mass transit.

SEPTA Tokens Are the Best Fare Instruments For Use on the Broad Street Subway

SEPTA tokens are what you should be using on the Broad Street Subway, whether you are from out of town, or a local. They are metal coins, about the size of a quarter, which can be purchased in packs of 2, 5, and 10, at any SEPTA ticket window. Individually, they cost $1.55 each, $0.45 less than the $2.00 base fare, which must be paid in exact change, in cash.

However, the primary reason that we recommend the tokens, is not to save money, but for your safety, convenience, and speed while riding the Broad Street Subway, especially if you're from out of town. It's easier, faster, and safer to drop a coin in a slot, than to fish out two dollar bills, or loose change, to pay your fare. To learn more about SEPTA tokens and how to buy and use them, check out our comprehensive Guide To SEPTA Tokens - which covers the most frequently asked questions on their use.

The Five Downtown Philadelphia Stops

Spring Garden Street

Race/Vine Streets

City Hall

Walnut/Locust Streets

Lombard/South Streets

In addition, there are two other stops of interest to the visitor. The first is Fairmount, located one stop above Spring Garden. The other is Pattison, now also known as AT&T Station, at the southernmost end of the line, in South Philadelphia, at the Sports Complex - it is five stops away from Lombard-South.

Here's a basic guide, as to where each stop will take you. We'll start at Fairmount, because it is the northernmost stop.

Fairmount Stop - Broad Street and Fairmount Avenue

You can walk to Eastern State Penitentiary - which is located on Fairmount Avenue, between 20th and 21st Streets, about six and a half blocks west of the Orange Line stop. You head west on Fairmount Avenue, and the way you can tell is that the numbered streets are going up as you walk.

However, due to the rough nature of the neighborhood, we would strongly urge you, not to attempt to go there this way, unless you are a Philadelphia native, and very familiar with both SEPTA, and the geography.

There are other ways of getting there via SEPTA - in fact, we've created the Eastern State Penitentiary - How To Travel to the Fortress Guide - which explains the various options, in detail.

Spring Garden Stop - Broad and Spring Garden Streets

This is primarily of interest, if you're heading to the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, which is at 7th and Spring Garden Streets. When you exit the subway at Spring Garden, head east on Spring Garden Street, toward the Delaware River, with the numbered streets descending. It's a seven block walk, which is about 0.7 miles, and should take about 13 minutes.

There are also a large number of clubs and restaurants, and a highly active nightlife scene in the booming, vibrant Northern Liberties neighborhood, which is located closer to the Delaware River. To reach them, just continue past the Edgar Allan Poe site, as they are concentrated in the lower-numbered streets.

Finnegans Wake, the official border of Northern Liberties (or NoLibs, as it is affectionately known), is at 3rd and Spring Garden Streets, 11 blocks east, from the Orange Line stop.

For Phillies fans, this intersection at Broad and Spring Garden Streets, is a place for wistful what-might-have-beens. At the turn of the millennium, the team had lobbied extensively for the new ballpark - not yet named, but what eventually was termed Citizens Bank Park - to be located directly at this spot. Which is to say, in Center City Philadelphia, with the exponential growth in vibrancy, that would have resulted. The fact that there was a subway stop right at the proposed site of the new ballpark - as there was at Veterans Stadium - was a major plus in the plan.

However, due to political intransigence, the Phillies were forced to build the beautiful new ballpark in South Philadelphia, next to the site of Veterans Stadium, the place the team called home from 1971 to 2003. It opened in 2004, and has witnessed three consecutive National League East titles, a World Series title in 2008 and a National League pennant in 2009.

Race/Vine Stop - Broad and Race Streets, and Broad and Vine Streets

When you see any two streets paired with a dash, it just means that the subway station permits you to exit at either one, depending on your destination.

If you are interested in visiting Chinatown - you can get off here, and head east for a couple of blocks, on either Race or Vine Streets, and you're there.

City Hall Stop - Broad and Market Streets

At City Hall, of course, the main attraction is Philadelphia City Hall and City Hall Tower, where you can take a tour of City Hall's remarkable architecture, as well as ride to the top of the gigantic, 37-foot-tall statue of William Penn - the founder of the colony of Pennsylvania. You can literally stand in the brim of his hat, with a stunning view of the city. Just emerge from the subway, and you are in the courtyard. Go to Room 121, which is located in the east alcove, the one which takes you east onto Market Street. It will have a narrow blue banner hanging over the door, on the wall, and that's where you get your tickets for the tour.

At City Hall Station, You Can Make A Convenient and Free Interchange With The SEPTA Blue Line, Known Also As the Market-Frankford Line and "The El"

You can also get off at City Hall, and transfer to the SEPTA Blue Line - also known officially as the Market-Frankford Line, and unofficially as "the el".

In order to do so, you must take the Orange Line to City Hall. If you are north of City Hall, take a southbound train. If you are south of City Hall, take a northbound train.

Once you disembark at City Hall, follow blue and white signs for the Blue Line and/or the Market-Frankford Line. You can switch from the Orange Line to the Blue Line (and vice versa) without paying with another token, cash, or a transfer.

By following the signs, you will wind up in the Blue Line's 15th Street Station, located at the intersection of 15th and Market Streets. From there, you can either head "Westbound to 69th Street", or "Eastbound to Frankford", depending upon your destination.

If you are visiting Philadelphia to see attractions, you will almost certainly want to head east, as most of the major tourist attractions and points of interest are east of 15th Street. Eastbound, the Blue Line will stop at 13th Street, 11th Street, 8th Street, 5th Street, 2nd Street, and Spring Garden, all of which have attractions and/or nightlife near them.

In contrast, westbound, there is no stop until 30th Street, and beyond it, the main point of interest is the University of Pennsylvania in University City. Take a look at our Blue Line guide, linked above, for more information.

At City Hall, You Can Also Connect to SEPTA Regional Rail Service, Although You Will Need Train Tickets Or A SEPTA Pass

Although you have to walk a block or so, either underground or on street level, it is almost as easy to connect to SEPTA Regional Rail service at Suburban Station. The train station is located at 16th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard, about two blocks away. You can travel to it without even going back up to the surface. Just follow the signage for "Suburban Station" and "SEPTA Regional Rail".

However, if you're new to the city, we'd recommend that you not wander around the underground Concourse, because you may get lost and disoriented, very easily, despite the greatly improved SEPTA signage.

Accordingly, we'd recommend that you ascend back on to street level, to City Hall Courtyard, and then walking the two blocks or so to Suburban Station. Just follow Market over to 16th Street, and go up one block, to Suburban Station.

Walnut/Locust - Broad and Walnut Streets, and Broad and Locust Streets

This is primarily of interest, if you are going to one of the many arts and cultural attractions on the Avenue of the Arts, which is Broad Street, south of City Hall. However, you can also use it to visit Rittenhouse Square. It is not only scenic, with impressive architecture, but there are many fine restaurants in this section of Center City.

Lombard/South Streets - Broad and Lombard Streets and Broad and South Streets

You can visit the eclectic, bohemian South Street by disembarking here. While you can do it this way, we think that you'll have a more enjoyable time by traveling over to the low-numbered streets and walking down one of them, instead.

The Next Four Stops Are Residential, Of Little Interest To Visitors

At this point, the Broad Street Line becomes of little interest to visitors, as it goes through residential neighborhoods in South Philadelphia. So you can just ride through the next four stops:





The next one of interest is Pattison, also known now as AT&T Station, officially, as of August 2010.

Pattison Avenue - Now Also Known As AT&T Station, Is Located At the Sports Complex in South Philadelphia

This is the end of the line, the southernmost point of the Broad Street Line, in South Philadelphia. This is primarily of interest, if you want to see one of the hometown teams in the Sports Complex, which consists of Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, and the Wachovia Center. Just ride until the end of the line, and the signage will direct you easily to your destination. It's three blocks to Citizens Bank Park, over on 11th Street, and even less to the other two venues.

If you'd like to leave the Broad Street Subway, and return to SEPTA, please click here.

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