At Last, Nutter Outlines City’s Pope Security Plan

Three zones of crowd control, with a magnetometer-screened inner ring.

nutter-new-pope-map-940x540Editor’s note: This is a developing story, and will be updated throughout the afternoon.

Mayor Michael Nutter released key new details this afternoon about the security and crowd control measures the city and the Secret Service will put in place for the Pope’s visit next month.

They’re extensive, but perhaps not as sweeping as some residents have feared. Finally, the outlines of the “security perimeter” — aka the Pope Fence — are known. One security zone will surround the Parkway and some blocks adjacent to it. A second screening perimeter will be erected around Independence Mall, where the Pope will stop on Saturday, Sept. 26 to talk about immigration and religious freedom to a ticketed crowd of 50,000.

The latest Pope map.

The latest Pope map.

Read on for the full details. And check out Biz Philly’s wrap up of what the city is doing to help businesses.

The Security Zones

  • There will be three distinct types of controlled zones. 1) The traffic box, announced last week2) A secure vehicle perimeter, where only official vehicles will be permitted, and 3) And the two security perimeters, where pedestrian access is controlled and anyone going in must go through magnetometers.
  • The Parkway security perimeter will go into effect on Thursday Sept. 24 at 10 p.m. The perimeter around Independence Hall will go into effect the following day at 10 p.m. Pilgrims are free to bring food and water into the secure perimeter. The city will publish a list of approved items on its website.
  • The broader “secure vehicle perimeter,” goes into effect on Thursday Sept. 24 at 10 p.m., the same time as the Parkway perimeter zone. Geographically, it’s a larger version of the security perimeter. See the black box on the map above.
  • Beginning Friday at 6 p.m. in Center City, the still larger “traffic box” goes into effect (those are the green lines). The University City portion of the traffic box will go up four hours later. In theory private vehicles within the traffic box can operate, they just can’t leave the box and come back in again. In practice, that’ll prove difficult if not impossible because of the anticipated crowds and individual road closures within the traffic box that are planned to create routes for emergency vehicles to get in and out (those are the yellow routes on the map above).
  • The mayor said some taxis will be able to move in and out of the traffic box until 2 a.m. on Saturday morning the 26th. Taxi service will be permitted to resume at taxi stands beginning at 3 a.m. on Monday morning. The city is still figuring this part out.


  • Philadelphia public schools will be closed from September 23—25.
  • From September 24—28, the City of Philadelphia will operate on an “essentials only” basis because many city employees will not be able to get to work.
  • City Council’s September 24 session has been cancelled.