And more news from Garth Lax, this time regarding all the great sites to see in the historic city:
| 2011 INTERNATIONAL PAPER DOLL CONVENTION |
LET FREEDOM RING !
Email # 3
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN #1
234 Years ago a group of 56 British Colonists gathered in Philadelphia
in the State House of the Province of Pennsylvania, and from that
gathering emerged the Declaration of Independence. In 1787, delegates
gathered there to write the Constitution of the United States
Today, the area in which they walked is known as the "old city", and
you can still tour the original buildings, see the chambers, and stroll
the streets that saw so much of the early history of the United States.
Before you come to Philadelphia, rent a copy of the movie, "1776",
or in the U.S. just watch for it on television right around July 4. It's an
historical musical, very entertaining, and set in the "Old City" of
Philadelphia. You'll watch the recreation of events in the legislative
chambers of Independence Hall, and see many of the buildings that
we'll mention in this email and the next one.
You'll "meet" many of the people who met in Philadelphia in 1776 - - an
entertaining Benjamin Franklin, an exceptionally well-played John
Adams, a young Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, and many more.
"1776" will make the "Old City" more alive and your visit much more
Let's get started.
INDEPENDENCE VISITOR CENTER
The Visitor Center, at the corner of 6th and Market Streets, is the point
at which you should begin. You can view the 28 minute film,
"Independence"; visit touch screen computer kiosks; pick up maps and
other literature; and have any questions answered by Park Rangers.
However, the main reason is that this is where you'll get your free
timed ticket to visit Independence Hall. You must have a ticket to
enter Independence Hall. You'll pick up your ticket on the day of your
visit starting at 8:30 a.m. Arrive early — during the busy season, tickets
often are gone by 1 p.m.
To guarantee a ticket and to avoid waiting in the walk-up ticket line,
consider purchasing timed tickets ($1.50 each) in advance, either by
phone or online through the National Park Reservation system. You
may call toll free at: 1-877-444-6777 from 10AM to 10 PM Eastern
Time or you nay use the website at http://recreation.gov . While tickets
to Independence Hall are free, the reservation fee is $1.50 per ticket.
You must claim them (using reservation number and valid identification)
at least 60 minutes before the tour on the day of your visit. The
"Will Call" section is to the left at the desk. You do not need to wait
in the walk-up ticket line.
THE LIBERTY BELL
The famous bell was commissioned from the London firm of Lester
and Pack (today the Whitechapel Bell Foundry) in 1752, and was cast
with the lettering (part of Leviticus 25:10) "Proclaim LIBERTY throughout
all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." It originally cracked when
first rung after arrival in Philadelphia, and was twice recast by Pass and
Stow, whose last names appear on the bell. It acquired its distinctive
large crack sometime in the early 19th century—the conventional story
claims that it cracked while ringing after the death of Chief Justice
John Marshall in 1835.
Originally, the Bell was mounted in the steeple of what today is
Independence Hall. For a time (1950s to 1970s), the bell hung on
its yoke in the Tower Room of Independence Hall, where it was
visited (and touched) by millions, to the point at which portions of
the lip had the patina worn away to expose the original copper and
Today, the 2080 pound (940 kg) bell is housed in its own pavilion
across the street from Independence Hall. It's Free.
To get there, as you leave the Visitor Center, walk south, cross Market
Street, and head for the metal and glass building in the middle of the
block between 5th and 6th Streets - - the security screening center.
It's a bit like airport security - - place all metal objects in your purse or
camera bag, remove your belt. The security line sometimes is long, so
check your timed Independence Hall ticket, and allow about 45-60
minutes to go through security, visit the Liberty Bell Center, and go on
to Independence Hall. (If time does not allow, then go to Independence
Hall and come back to the Liberty Bell later.)
Liberty Bell Center is open from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Independence Hall, the centerpiece of Independence National Historic
Park, is located on Chestnut Street between 5th and 6th Streets.
The lovely building in the Georgian style, was built between 1732 and
1753, and served as the Pennsylvania State House. This is the building
in which the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were
vigorously debated and adopted.
The guided tour of Independence Hall, led by National Park Rangers,
begins in the courtroom where lawyers from opposing sides shared
tables and law books. George Washington’s “rising sun” chair
dominates the Assembly Room which is arranged as it was during the
Constitutional Convention. In the adjacent West Wing, the original
inkstand used to sign he Declaration of Independence and an original
draft of the Constitution are displayed.
The Assembly Room in which the Declaration was adopted is pictured
on the reverse of the US $2 bill from the painting by John Trumbull.
Independence Hall is open 365 days a year. Hours vary by season.
Following your tour, you'll exit Independence Hall by the front door that
faces south. Now, make a quick right and walk to the next building,
US SUPREME COURT CHAMBERS
From 1790 to 1800, the US Supreme Court met in Philadelphia's
Old City Hall, a 2 1/2 story red brick building just to the east of
Independence Hall. The building is nearly a copy of Congress Hall,
but a bit less elegant.
Guided tours are conducted several times a day. Entry is free,
but restricted to the guided tours.
The next building that you'll come to is Philosophical Hall.
The Hall, constructed between 1785 and 1789, was the central
meeting place for members of the American Philosophical Society.
The Society was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, and its
members included George Washington, John Adams, Thomas
Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, as well as doctors, lawyers,
merchants, clergymen, and artisans.
The building is open to the public and contains very interesting
exhibits. The current exhibition, "Of Elephants and Roses; Encounters
with French Natural History, 1790-1830" has a somewhat off-putting
title. However, imagine yourself in Paris 200 years ago. You could
have seen the Empress Josephine’s famous black swan, a mastodon
tooth sent by Thomas Jefferson to the Paris Museum of Natural
History, and original watercolors by Pierre-Joseph Redouté, known as
the “Raphael of flowers.” These are among the objects that will be on
view in this sumptuous exhibition about the science and art of French
natural history from the 1789 Revolution to the July Monarchy of 1830
- - an era when Paris was the center of life sciences in the Western
world, and Philadelphia, the center of science in North America.
Philosophical Hall is open 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday
(on Fridays, it's open until 8 PM)
A $1.00 donation is requested.
When you exit Philosophical Hall, make a left and walk back toward
Chestnut Street. Turn right on Chestnut Street and walk about halfway
down the block to the Second Bank of the United States.
SECOND BANK OF THE US PORTRAIT GALLERY
At the corner of 4th and Chestnut Streets, three blocks east of
Independence Hall is a beautiful Greek Revival Building, one of the
finest in the U.S., that was built to house the Second Bank of the
With its eight Doric columns, crowned by an entablature containing a
frieze and simple triangular pediment that spans the width of the
structure, the building appears much as an ancient Greek temple
The building has had many uses since the bank closed in 1841.
Today, it serves as an art gallery, housing a large and famous
collection of portraits of prominent early Americans painted by
Charles Wilson Peale and many others.
The structure is open daily free of charge.
I'll be back in two weeks with In the Footsteps of Benjamin Franklin #2.
- - Garth