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The best word to describe Philadelphia in the summer: Moist. Add climbing temperatures to punishing humidity and you get the “heat index,” which you’d swear the newscasters keep using to taunt you into moving someplace drier.
We used a hand-held air temperature gauge to figure out how cool (or warm) some of Philly’s public places, to better help you find out where to soak up the free chill.
We tested 14 places, from the Market-Frankford Line to the Dairy Queen near Independence Hall and found an average of 71.62 degrees — that falls right in line with what’s generally considered to be room temperature, which is seen as between 68 and 72 degrees.
Without further ado, here’s the Philly Air Conditioning Index, from warmest to coolest:
14. The Shops at Liberty Place: 76.4 degrees
Liberty Place at lunchtime, up near the food court area, is basically a heat-filled torture chamber.
13. City Hall 7/11: 76.2 degrees
The small convenience store on Penn Square (next to that busy Dunkin Donuts near City Hall) was kinda sweltering at 8 a.m. on a weekday morning. Avoid at all costs if you’re already sweaty.
12. Reading Terminal Market: 74.9 degrees
We took this temperature long before lunchtime, and it was still quite warm in the busy Reading Terminal. Worth noting: When pointed at an air vent, the device showed the temperature at 72.1 degrees.
11. The Bourse: 72.9 degrees
This food court/ shopping area in Old City just off of Independence Mall is humid and felt like the stuffiest place we visited. Just stay away if you’re not tryna smell.
10. Rittenhouse Barnes and Noble: 72.8 degrees
Located at 18th and Walnut, this bookstore was moderately cool in the upstairs area close to the cafe, but was much warmer downstairs.
9. Jefferson Station: 72.6 degrees
For being an underground chamber of heat, the area where you can catch the Regional Rail lines is actually not *that* hot.
8. Macy’s: 72.5 degrees
Sometimes it can feel straight up freezing inside this store at 13th and Market Streets, but it’s apparently right above room temperature.
7. Dairy Queen: 72.1 degrees
I was *floored* that this DQ at 6th and Chestnut wasn’t the coldest place in Philadelphia, but I digress. I have no idea how they keep that sludgey soft serve from melting as soon as it swirls into a cake cone.
6. Dunkin Donuts: 71.3 degrees
Apparently the Market East Dunkin does a good job of pumping air in this place. The location at 10th and Market Streets was packed with people by 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, but the temperature inside was still pretty comfortable. KU-dos, Dunkin.
5. Independence Visitor Center: 70.4 degrees
Inside the Visitor Center was a nice experience, save for the (ugh) small children running around without chaperones. Thankfully it was a cool 70 degrees. Go here when it’s hot if you can bear the kids.
4. Uniqlo: 70 degrees
Go hide behind all the camisoles and cheap hoodies at at 16th and Chestnut when you’re dying of sweat this week.
3. In a Philly cab: 69.3 degrees
Thx, Freedom Taxi, for not burning me.
2. On the El: 67.2 degrees
The air conditioning on the El was miraculously working/ turned on during the morning commute on the day we tested the AC’s, and it was fabulous. But this is a huge crapshoot. Probably wouldn’t recommend chillin’ on the El all day in order to get out of the heat.
1. Pipeline Philly: 67.1 degrees
Well, damn. Our own office is basically the coldest place in Philly (out of the 15 locations we tested). Come to Pipeline if you want to get out of the heat and chat with Billy Penn employees. *Runs to grab another cup of hot coffee and a hoodie*