Saturday, April 8, 2017

2017 PAPER DOLL CONVENTION Email #4: Historic Philadelphia

Some of these email bulletins/updates will need more re-vamping than others, but this particular email bulletin is so much in the voice of Garth Lax, who painstakingly researched and created these handy guides to the convention city each year, that I feel moved to mention once again his tireless work on behalf of the paper doll community.  His contribution was vast (the email updates being only one example) and his influence and guiding hand will continue to be felt for years to come. -- Kwei-lin Lum



Email # 4


240 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 meaningful.

Let's get started.  Most of the sites are part of the Independence National Historical Park, operated by the National Park Service.


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" or the 22-minute film Choosing Sides: Young Voices of the Revolution; visit touch screen computer kiosks; pick up maps and other literature; and have any questions answered by Park Rangers.  The website lists the major Philadelphia attractions at

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 11 a.m. For same-day ticket availability information, phone 215-965-2305The center is open daily and closes at 7 p.m. during the summer.

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 may use the website at:
or at 

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 45 minutes before the tour start time on the day of your visit. The "Will Call" is at a clearly labeled “National Park Service” desk (not to be confused with the city attractions and tour package purchase area).  At the NPS desk, there are two separate lines, clearly marked, for reserved and for non-reserved tickets

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 tin alloy.

Today, the 2080 pound (940 kg) bell is housed in its own pavilion across the street from Independence Hall. You can walk around its fine glass housing and see it from all sides, or stand in line to file in and get a closer look, though it’s now behind a railing barrier and cannot be touched. 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 is usually very 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.  Extended summer hours TBA.

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 daily from 8:30AM to 6PM.

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, Congress Hall.

From 1790 to 1800, Philadelphia was the Capital of the U.S., and Congress Hall was the Capitol Building, housing the House of Representatives and the US Senate.

It's next door to Independence Hall - - just to the west.

The exquisite red brick building topped by a cupola and weather vane was completed in 1789. It was in this building that Congress ratified the Bill of Rights, signed the Jay Treaty, watched Washington and John Adams take the Oath of Office as President, and heard Washington's Farewell Address in 1797.

The House chamber on the first floor (hence its nickname, the “Lower House") was rather simple and featured mahogany desks and leather chairs. The room has been restored to its original appearance in 1796.  The second floor, reserved for the Senate (the "Upper House"), was more ornate and adorned with heavy red drapes.

By 1796, the room featured 32 secretary desks very similar to the desks that still are used in the current Senate chamber in the US Capitol. 28 of the desks at Congress Hall are original. Portraits of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, gifts from Louis XVI , hang in adjoining committee rooms. Be sure to look up at the fresco of an American Bald Eagle painted on the ceiling, holding the traditional olive branch to symbolize peace. Also on the ceiling is a plaster medallion in the form of a sunburst; the 13 stars representing the 13 original colonies.

Open 9-5 daily. Tours are conducted every 20 minutes during summer.

When you exit Congress Hall, walk along Chestnut Street toward 5th St. Make a right on 5th St. The first building on your right is Old City Hall.

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.

The Old City Hall, which also houses the Independence Square Museum Store, is open daily 9-5. 

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 will host the exhibit Curious Revolutionaries: The Peales of Philadelphia during the convention.  The Peales were an extraordinary early American family, curious in every sense of the word. They were patriots, soldiers, politicians, inventors, explorers, naturalists, entrepreneurs, and world-class, ever busy tinkerers. Above all, the Peales embraced the Enlightenment ideal to expand man’s universal knowledge while improving life on earth.

Hours TBA, please check website above.  The museum is not part of the NPS, it is operated by the American Philosophical Society.

A $2.00 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.


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 United States.

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.

Admission is free of charge.  Winter hours are Saturday & Sunday 11am - 5pm, check back on website for summer hours.


The President's House Site is located at the corner of 6th and Market Streets very near the Liberty Bell. This is a quick outdoor exhibit, and can be entered from either Market Street or 6th Street. The outdoor exhibits examine the paradox between slavery and freedom in the new nation. Presidents Washington and Adams - and their households - once lived and worked at a house on this spot. Although the house was demolished in 1832, the foundations still remain visible in this unique exhibit focusing on the contradiction of liberty and enslavement in the new nation.

Open daily from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Stay tuned for Garth’s “In the Footsteps of Benjamin Franklin #2” sometime soon!



August 9 - 13, 2017
Airport Embassy Suites, 9000 Bartram Ave., Philadelphia, PA






[  ]  Registration:  $295
[  ]  Absentee Registration (Souvenirs):  $100.00 USD  
[  ]  Guest Registration (3 Meals/No souvenirs) $150.00

GUEST NAME:__________________________________________

Make checks payable/mail to: Linda Ocasio
                                                96 Minell Place
                                                Teaneck, NJ 07666



 Note: The paper doll illustration above is from a 2011 Philadelphia Convention souvenir.  Souvenirs are limited editions, but you might find this and other souvenirs from previous conventions in the Salesroom.

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