Some Center City employees and shoppers were given quite a scare yesterday morning by a man who was ranting and wielding a knife for nearly an hour at 8th and Market streets, police said.

What they didn't see was the hand grenade that police later confiscated from his bag.

Witnesses said that the man, with knife pulled, began his sidewalk rant shortly after 8 a.m. However, police were not contacted for nearly an hour, said Officer Tania Little, a police spokeswoman.

When police arrived, they saw the man threatening passers-by with a large knife. Authorities detained the man and found a hand grenade inside a camouflage backpack he was wearing, Little said.

Members of the bomb squad were alerted and the surrounding area was closed off, Little said. The grenade was later determined to be a harmless practice round.

The man, who has not been charged, was taken to Pennsylvania Hospital for psychiatric evaluation. *