Philadelphia Information Locator Service
Agency Information

Public Safety, Department of
Bureau of Building Inspection

[Record group 83-4]
Agency Function
The Bureau of Building Inspection was responsible for issuing permits for constructing, altering, or removing buildings, or substantially repairing them, and for inspecting all construction operations. It enforced the Building Code, which looked to structural safety in existing buildings and the condemnation of buildings which are unsafe.

Agency History
The Bureau of Building Inspection finds its origin in an Act of Assembly approved on 7 May 1855 providing for the appointment by the judges of the Court of Common Pleas of two "suitable persons of experience and skill" to be inspectors of buildings for a two year terms. In a supplementary Act approved on 13 April 1858, the number of inspectors was increased to three: one appointed by the judges of the Court of Common Pleas, one by the judges of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and one elected jointly by the Select and Common Councils.Under the provisions of the Bullitt Bill of 1885, the occupants of the Board of Building Inspectors remained in office until the expiration of their terms, whereupon their replacements were appointed by the Director of the Department of Public Safety. In the enabling ordinance of 30 December 1886, the Board was placed into the Department of Public Safety. An Act approved on 5 May 1899 mandated the establishment of a Bureau of Building Inspection to replace the former Board of Building Inspectors. Upon the passage of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter and the subsequent dismemberment of the Department of Public Safety, the functions of the Bureau of Building Inspection were moved into the newly-created Department of Licenses & Inspections.

Archival Records
83-4.1 Annual Reports (1918-1921)

83-4.2 Yearly Record of Building Permits, Operations, and Estimated Costs (1912-1951)

83-4.3 "Central City High Buildings" (1917)

83-4.4Building Permit Applications (1889-1951)


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Last updated on October 29, 1999