Posted in North America, Travels, United States

It’s Not Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I mean this strictly in weather terms. Where I live, it’s rare to have rain in the middle of August. But my travels to the East Coast have taught me that only nature knows what’s coming in terms of weather.

Anyways, one of the things that attracted me to Philadelphia was its extended colonial history. I had U.S. History in high school, and it fascinated me to be able to walk in the same city and see the same buildings that Benjamin Franklin and other historical figures would have seen in their time. So it’s fitting that I dedicated the second day of my trip to exploring some of these historical sites.

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Foundations of Ben Franklin’s house

I know. It doesn’t look like much, does it? This is the site (and foundation) of Benjamin Franklin’s house. References to this guy are all over the city. There’s also an outline of Franklin’s house (literally) in the place where it once stood. We entered through a brick path into the courtyard. The courtyard is free admission, but the adjoining Franklin Museum does have an admission fee. But I didn’t go inside, so I don’t know what’s in it.

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Independence Hall

Independence Hall and the surrounding monuments are probably one of the most popular tourist destinations in Philadelphia. GO EARLY. I cannot stress that enough. Tickets to tour the hall are FREE, but they are timed-entry, so go early and have flexible plans for the day if it’s especially crowded. Head across the street from the hall to the Independence Visitor Center and get your tickets. You can also reserve your tickets for a small fee ahead of time (like $1-$2 or something per ticket, check their site), but I took my chances at the hall, because I blow my money on food, not tour tickets. We got tickets to the third tour of the day, which gave us enough time to see the Liberty Bell first.

The Liberty Bell exhibit is located in the square between the Independence Visitor Center and Independence Hall and is also free admission. You just have to wait in line. They also run visitors through metal detectors and check bags at these sites, so be prepared. There are numerous displays in the Liberty Bell building, and the actual bell is all the way at the end. For the most part, you can read these same facts online or in books, so I bypassed most of these displays to see the actual bell.

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Liberty Bell

In all honesty, the bell is a little underwhelming. I think the photos I’ve seen in books and online zoom in real close to this bell. On the upside, the way they’ve displayed this bell allows for a nice backdrop of Independence Hall. It’s too bad it was crowded and I’m still working on my photography skills.

The time came for our tour of Independence Hall. Your first stop is a small meeting room off to the side of the hall. The guide comes in, does his schpiel, and you’re off.

The highlight of the tour for me was to see the main floor of the hall and see it set up as the delegates would have had it (supposedly) back in 1776.

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Main floor

There’s a sizable wall/partition thing between the visitor area and the setup on the left. Obviously, you’re not allowed to sit in these chairs or touch anything beyond the barrier. I’m a little short, so it was difficult for me to take a picture without a portion of the partition in it. It’s a good thing the Sibling is about a half foot taller and was able to get me this shot with minimal fence.

The room across the hall from this famous setup was the meeting place of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It looks exactly like an old-time courtroom, and it was darker than I expected. I wonder how many candles they needed to see in there at night? For some reason, I also can’t find the photo I took of this room, so use your imagination.

The guide also pointed out stairs to the second floor of the hall, but unfortunately, our tour wasn’t going that way (I haven’t figured out why). The NPS website does state that occasionally tours, will be shown the second floor, but I would check with them about when those tours are.

Three sites down, more coming up! Any recommendations on other historical sites to see in Philadelphia?

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