💡 Get Philly smart 💡
with BP’s free daily newsletter

Read the news of the day in less than 10 minutes — not that we’re counting.

Maybe you’ve heard: The country’s eyes will divert away from the dumpster fire that is Cleveland and look toward Philadelphia next week as our city plays host to the Democratic National Convention.

There’s something you need to know right off the bat: This will not be like the Papal visit. We repeat: This will not be like that time the Pope came to Philadelphia and all the streets in Center City were shut down and no one went to work.

Instead, it’ll be something like 50,000 delegates, media members, celebrities and pols coming to the city — along with a sizable cohort of protestors — who will be largely secluded in South Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center, or attending meetings (or partying) in Center City and returning to their delegation’s hotels across the region.

Still, you should know what’s what around the city so you can either A. Hole up in your apartment with a bottle of wine and Netflix B. Protest for days across the city or C. Take advantage of the *hundreds* of parties and events throughout the city next week.

Here’s everything you need to know and more about DNC week in Philly:

Big events and important people

If you’re actually paying attention to the action at the DNC, these are the headliners for each night (and their motorcades could have an impact on traffic and movement within the city if they venture here):

  • Monday: First Lady Michelle Obama and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • Tuesday: Former President Bill Clinton
  • Wednesday: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden
  • Thursday: Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton
  • Friday: Hillary Clinton’s campaign expected to stage event on Independece Mall

Not into watching the speeches? Don’t worry. There are hundreds of other events, including PoliticalFest, the large, citywide tour of events, political artifacts and goings-on at the Constitution Center and various museums. Or you can go celebrity watching in Center City, as Hollywood is expected to turn out big for the DNC.

Road closures and security zones

DNC security zone
DNC security zone Credit: City of Philadelphia

Remember when all of Center City was shut down for the Pope? Won’t be like that. The city doesn’t expect mass road closures, but streets will be shut down on a rolling basis if there’s a large demonstration in the streets or VIP — think president, vice president, etc. — rolling through in a motorcade. However, there are road closures in the area of the stadiums. These are the details:

Beginning no later than Noon on Saturday until late evening on Friday, July 29, the following permanent street closures will be in effect:

  • North and south bound lanes of South Broad Street between Packer Avenue and the Navy Yard/Terminal Avenue
  • Pattison Avenue from South 7th Street to the eastern most entrance to FDR Park
  • Terminal Avenue from South Broad Street to South 11th Street
  • South 11th Street from Hartranft Street to Terminal Avenue

For the same dates, the following streets will be limited to authorized vehicles only. Access will be controlled by the Philadelphia Police Department:

  • Pattison Avenue from South 20th Street to the eastern most entrance to FDR Park
  • Hartranft Street from South Broad Street to South Darien Street
  • South Darien Street from Packer Avenue to Lurie Way
  • 10th Street south of Packer Avenue

Beginning daily, from Monday to Friday, July 29, the following I-76 eastbound exit ramp at Packer Avenue (Exit #350) will be closed between 2 p.m. and 2 a.m.

There are also a number of closures on I-95 that will be enforced by PennDOT. Most of those restrictions are for large commercial vehicles, however the I-95 exit ramp at Broad Street (Route 611/ Exit 17) will have closures:

  • Northbound: From Friday, July 22 at 10 p.m. until midday Friday, July 29.
  • Southbound: Will be open intermittently during convention week, but only for access to the Navy Yard. Detours will be posted, and you can check PennDOT’s special website for the DNC for more details.


Because of expected congestion in Center City, the city is urging anyone who can to take public transportation during the week of the Convention.


Additional service will be added to the Broad Street Line throughout the convention to accommodate travelers to and from Center City and the Wells Fargo Center. Sign up to be alerted of system delays or changes to service here.

And, some good news regarding the Regional Rail: Though the transit system in the ‘burbs is in crisis mode right now, most of the state delegations take chartered buses from their hotels to the convention and to other events. The Regional Rail isn’t expected to experience additional delays because of DNC attendees.

Uber and Lyft

In case you missed it: Uber and Lyft are officially legal. At least until Sept. 30. Several weeks ago, the Philadelphia Parking Authority announced that it would stand down and wouldn’t actively work to impound cars driven by Uber and Lyft drivers. Then, when the state budget passed last week, lawmakers in Harrisburg effectively legalized Uber and Lyft in Philadelphia through Sept. 30 or until other legislation is passed legalizing the services.


The cab companies were less excited about the newly-formed cooperation between Uber and the PPA. Plan Philly reports that representatives of taxi and cab drivers have promised “chaos” during the DNC as drivers protest ridesharing services that operate with less regulations than the taxis.


The only planned parking restrictions that could have a wide impact is the enforcement of the parking-on-the-median ban on South Broad Street. Typically, the city lets South Philly do South Philly and doesn’t enforce the ban, but with thousands of protestors planning to walk down South Broad Street to get the Wells Fargo Center, the city says it’ll enforce the ban on median parking between Washington and Packer Avenues beginning Sunday and continuing through the end of day July 29.

The city also recommends vigilantly checking parking signs throughout the week, as there may be some minor parking restrictions based on events and other happenings in the areas where you may typically park.

Protests and permits

2012 DNC protesters and police
Protesters and police at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. Credit: Debra Sweet / Flickr

As of July 18, the city had approved 17 permit requests for protests and a dozen — including one from Trump for PA — were still pending. Three demonstration requests were denied by the city for errors like not filling out the paperwork correctly and selecting locations that don’t allow for such uses. Most of permits that were approved are in South Philadelphia’s and in the area of FDR Park, where the most protesters are expected to be.

However, the city expects a total of 35, 000 to 50,000 demonstrators across the city each day throughout the DNC and many demonstrations simply don’t obtain permits as they’re asked to (and the city won’t arrest protesters solely for not having a permit). The city also notes that though it’s working with protesters to avoid demonstrations at rush hour, it’s unlikely that’ll be avoided. Follow @PhillyPolice and @PhiladelphiaGov on Twitter, as they’ll update their feeds when un-permitted demonstrations pop up.

These organizations had protest permits approved:

  • Ammi Ministry
  • Food & Water Watch
  • March for Bernie
  • Jill Stein for President
  • “Bernie Sanders Supporters”
  • Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign
  • Candelight Vigil to Commemorate the Death of Democracy
  • Phila. Federation of Teachers (PFT Local 3)
  • Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC / CeaseFirePA
  • Westboro Baptist Church
  • Black Men for Bernie
  • The Markham Group
  • Support Rally for Bernie Sanders

The largest protests that were permitted are daily events at FDR park called the March For Bernie, which estimates some 30,000 people could show. Those will take place at FDR Park in specific zones.

These organizations’ permit requests are still pending (and some have multiple requests):

  • Equality Coalition for Bernie Sanders
  • Andrea Romig (Mock Trial for Hillary Clinton)
  • Conscious Convergence
  • Trump for PA
  • Interfaith Prayer Circle for Peace, Unity and Justice
  • Philly REAL Justice
  • International Action Center

Click here for a map of FDR Park and where the “protest zone” is located.

Going out

When it comes to dining, you shouldn’t be all that interrupted by DNC happenings during the week. Typically, delegates eat breakfast at their assigned hotels, have provided lunches with their caucuses at the Convention Center and are at the Wells Fargo Center during the dinnertime hours Monday through Thursday. (Open Table shows there are lots of reservations at top Philly restaurants still available.)

You can expect the bars to be a bit busier after 11 p.m. when the festivities at the Convention itself wrap up. But many delegates and DNC attendees will also be at private parties, many of which will be held at bars that obtain a special permit to be open past 2 a.m. because they’re holding an event directly connected to the DNC.

What we do recommend? Take advantage of the hundreds of parties and events being held the week of the DNC throughout the city ranging from panels to happy hours to ragers. We’re curating a list of the public events you can still obtain tickets to.

City services

The city says there shouldn’t be any changes to regular trash and recycling services. If there are changes, you can find out here. 311 will have extended hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. if you have questions about other city services.

Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.