Philadelphia has been on my “must see” list for years. It’s filled with historical sites and stories, and was the home of Ben Franklin one of the most interesting founding fathers of our country. The city was founded in 1682 by William Penn whose name forms the name of the state, Pennsylvania. In the mid 1700s it was the largest city in the United States and second largest city in the British Empire behind London. Philadelphia served as the temporary capital while Washington was being designed and built.
The Liberty Bell used to hang in the bell tower of Independence Hall (formerly the State House of Pennsylvania). The original bell was cast in England in 1752 and cracked when it was first rung in its new home. It was recast twice by John Pass and John Stow in Pennsylvania, but cracked again. I think it’s beautiful, even with its well-earned scar, and I find it moving to think of the history it bore witness to in the early years of our independence from England.
Independence Hall has seen some incredible events in its day as well. This building is where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated, adopted and signed. It’s a beautiful building that overlooks a grand square and statue of John Barry, sometimes known as the father of the United States Navy.
After wandering around the grounds of Independence National Park it’s time to see more of the city. The highrises of downtown are just a few blocks away. And set right in the center of them all is the absolutely beautiful City Hall. It’s one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen in my country. A statue of William Penn is perched atop the tall tower so that he can watch over this beautiful city.
Not far from Independence Hall is the nation’s oldest residential street, Elspeth Alley. The row houses on this street are about 16 feet wide.
I get to see all kinds of things today – the LOVE park with its sculpture that has the “LO” on top of the “VE” and which I remember from a stamp issued years ago, the Eastern State Penitentiary (which is surprisingly one of the most beautiful buildings I see today covered with vines and flowers and with gargoyles on the front steps), and several museums. And finally we get to the Philadelphia Art Museum and its famous staircases and grounds which were the ones Rocky ran up in the movie of the same name. The museum is parked at the end of Benjamin Franklin Parkway and overlooks the heart of Philadelphia. It’s the perfect end to a great day in this beautiful city.