Secret Philly

Secret Philly: The rooftop tennis court on the edge of Center City

Built in 1984 for $1.7 million, the space once boasted basketball and handball courts, too.

Tennis above 2
Courtesy Evan Beilin

There’s a hidden rooftop tennis court in Philly, property of the Community College of Philadelphia, and for a long time even the college seemed to forget about it.

It’s located on top of a four-floor parking garage at 400 N. 16th Street. A six-lane track spans around the courts, and use is restricted to the athletes. The only way to get in is with a key. And the only way to even catch a glimpse is from the vantage point of another high-rise in the area.    

Here’s how it looks from above:

Tennis above 3
Courtesy Evan Beilin

And how it looks from on the court:

Tennis view
Courtesy Evan Beilin
Tennis sundown
Courtesy Evan Beilin

The roofdeck dates back to 1984, a $1.7 million piece of a major building boom for CCP. The university had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its grand opening. Back then, it was used for basketball, tennis and handball, according to newspaper archives, and had showers and lockers.

Tennis 1984 Ribbon CCP
Dennis Gingell/Community College of Philadelphia

The basketball team got its own gymnasium several years later. Evan Beilin started as the school’s tennis coach last fall (he’s since left) and said when he first went up to the rooftop only one of the three tennis courts had a net, and it was halfway off.  

Tennis track dilapidated
Courtesy Evan Beilin

Beilin was removed as tennis coach earlier this spring. Athletic director Rogers Glispy did not respond an interview request.  

As for other places to play, Penn offers memberships to the public for use of their tennis courts. Anybody can use Drexel’s or Temple’s courts, without membership or even a reservation.

Of course, they aren’t on rooftops.

Want some more? Explore other Secret Philly stories.

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