The cornerstone for the new school building was laid on September 19, 1837 at the intersection of Juniper and Market Streets. Three stories tall, the building was shaped like a T and included an astronomical observatory. The roof of the first Central High School building can be seen in what is considered the earliest surviving American photograph, made by Joseph Saxton in October 1839.
By the early 1850s, changes in the neighborhood around Juniper and Market Streets and the need for additional space forced school officials to look for a new location. On June 28, 1854, a new school building on the southeast corner of Broad and Green Streets was dedicated. The building featured fifteen classrooms, an assembly hall, an observatory, and high ceilings to assist with ventilation. During this time, the school faced criticism regarding financial expenditures and the curriculum, especially the decision to teach certain foreign languages.
In 1939, the school moved again to its present location at Ogontz and Olney Avenues. In 1983, girls were admitted to Central High School after federal Judge William M. Marutani ruled that the single-sex admissions policy was unconstitutional.
When Central High School was founded in 1838, it was an innovative development in the use of free public education in Pennsylvania. By 1902 when President Roosevelt spoke at the dedication of Central High’s new building, he stated that there were over 170,000 public school students in the City of Philadelphia and that “it is, of course, a mere truism to say that the stability, the future welfare of our institutions depend upon the grade of citizenship turned out from our public schools.” In 1902, as it is today, many aspects of public schooling were fiercely debated, but the public school system had become accepted as necessary for the benefit of society.
 Anthe, Charles. “History.” Central High School. http://www.centralhigh.net/pages/about/history
 Edmonds, Franklin Spencer. History of the Central High School of Philadelphia. Philadlephia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1902. http://books.google.com/books?id=wogWAAAAIAAJ&printsec=titlepage&source=gbs_summary_r&cad=0#PPP1,M1
 New York Times. “President Says M’Kinley’s Policies Have Triumphed.” November 23, 1902. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9E00EFD91E3DEE32A25750C2A9679D946397D6CF