Monday, September 24, 2012

Another gorgeous morning here in Philly, the skies are clear and it is a crisp 47 degrees. We grabbed a quick breakfast at McDonald’s before we started our walk east on Market Street towards Independence Hall. Today is a work day and the streets are alive with people, students, cars, busses, and taxis all in a hurry to get to their destinations. We arrived at our destination at 8am, an hour early, and there was already a huge crowd of foreign visitors standing on the grassy parkway taking photographs in front of Independence Hall. The tour busses had arrived! Most of the historic sites in Old City Philadelphia are run by the National Park Service. You’ll be happy to know that with our tax dollars the Feds are doing a very good job conducting the guided tours of Independence Hall. We had tickets for the first tour of the Hall at 9am (tickets are free). Our park ranger was very knowledgeable as he guided our small group through the Hall. Independence Hall is a restored building, not reconstructed, and was completed in 1753. It originally served as the State House of Pennsylvania and later served as our nation’s capital until 1800. This is where the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence was signed declaring our country’s freedom from the British Empire in 1776. The Liberty Bell is housed in the Liberty Bell Center not far from Independence Hall. It is proclaimed to be the world’s greatest symbol of freedom. The bell cracked the first time is was rung in 1753. It was recast twice but never could overcome a fatal flaw and kept cracking so they only “tapped” it for special occasions like when the transcontinental telephone service was completed and for the Invasion of Normandy in 1944. We finished up with the Liberty Bell and headed over to the National Constitution Center (this museum is not part of the Parks service). The National Constitution Center was very well done and is primarily devoted to the U.S. Constitution and its legacy of freedom. They had a lot of interactive exhibits, a live performance, some rare artifacts and quite a few hands-on activities. The main theme of the museum was “We the People”. The live performance took you through America’s journey to independence. There was a room called “Signers’ Hall” where there were 42 life-size bronze statues of all our Founding Fathers. My first observation of the bronze Founding Fathers was that most of them were quite tall. I did not expect this for a typical male in the 1700’s. The guide pointed out that all the “Signers” were very educated and very wealthy and therefore very well fed, thus they grew taller. The tallest Founding Father in the room was George Washington. I really enjoyed the National Constitution Center. Next door the Constitution Centers was the United States Mint. I’ve never been to a mint before, and Dale tells that there are only three mints in the US (Philly, Denver, San Fran) so we should go visit this US Mint. We can never prove that we visited a US Mint because no photos were allowed. It was interesting, ‘nough said. Side note. . . . . . I assure you, every historic landmark in the US is highly secure. Gates, guards, expanded perimeters, and searches of personal belongings and our bodies is a way of life now. How sad; the age of innocents is a thing of the past. I hate that my grandkids won’t know a life without fear of terrorist’s. After the US Mint tour we visited the burial ground where Benjamin Franklin was buried in 1790. I learned that a “burial ground” is different than a cemetery. In the 1700’s there were no cemeteries. Cemeteries are organized with plots that are planned out in advance; burial grounds are not. In the burial ground where Ben Franklin was laid to rest, the tombstones have all sunken down into the ground and only about one-fourth of the stone appears above ground. Nothing is organized in a burial ground. Benjamin Franklin is a very big deal in Philly. By now it is midafternoon and we are really starving, so we decided to return to City Tavern to try out their Turkey Pot Pie. Yummy! The chef of City Tavern, Walter Staib, has won several Emmys for a TV show called “A Taste of History” that airs nationwide on Public Broadcasting TV stations. After our very late lunch, we slowly made our way back to our hotel. We both had a brief nap before going down to our hotel restaurant for half price happy hour appetizers & drinks. Tomorrow we are visiting NYC.

Independence Hall

Liberty Bell

National Constitutional Center

Christ Church Burial Grounds,
Betsy Ross House,
Christ Church,
City Tavern,