Curtis Center and the Dream Garden
The Dream Garden is a massive glass mosaic that graces the lobby of the Curtis Center in Philadelphia. It represents an artistic collaboration between popular early 20th century artist Maxfield Parrish and the Tiffany Company. The 15 x 49-foot mosaic consists of over 100,000 pieces of individually fired, asymmetrical, glass tiles that were installed by hand in the building’s lobby over a six-month period in 1916. The tiles’ 260 colors create a dream-like landscape of blooming plants, old-growth trees, mountains and a waterfall that possesses an iridescent glow. The mural is now owned by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Philadelphia's Washington Square, set aside by the city's founder, William Penn, is home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, honoring Revolutionary fighters, as well as to the Bicentennial Moon Tree. Historically, the 6.4-acre square has been used as a pasture, hay field, fishing hole, burial ground, revival meeting ground, public park, and site of the oldest extant publishing house in America [1; 2].
The Musical Fund Hall
The Musical Fund Hall is a historic building in Center City, Philadelphia famous for once being the greatest concert hall in the city. After serving as a concert hall, the Musical Fund Hall also saw use as a tobacco warehouse, a boxing arena, and, today, condominiums. While it was once on the registry of National Historic Landmarks, that title was stripped from the Hall. However, it is still listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Walnut Street Theatre
The Walnut Street Theatre of Philadelphia holds the title of the oldest continuously operating theatre in the English-speaking world. The theatre opened in 1809 and has since become the most subscribed theatre company in the world. Its stage has held some of the most influential actors and actresses of the 19th and 20th centuries: Edwin Forrest, Audrey Hepburn, Jack Lemmon, Jessica Tandy, and many others debuted at the Walnut Street Theatre throughout its history. The theatre was appointed the State Theatre of Pennsylvania in 1964, and today it puts on more than 20 productions each season.
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church is the oldest building of Gothic design still standing in the city of Philadelphia. Constructed in 1823 by renowned architect William Strickland, it is considered to be the first truly Gothic building erected in the city and stands on the site where Benjamin Franklin flew his historic kite. St. Stephen’s has been referred to as “Philadelphia’s Westminster Abbey” due to the stunning sculptures, mosaics, and stained glass it holds, along with its rich history. Today the church retains its Episcopal roots, but is also home to various other religious meetings and multicultural services.
The President's House - Washington and Adams
The President's House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation is an open-air commemoration of America's first executive mansion, the residence of George Washington and John Adams during their terms as President while Philadelphia was the temporary national capital following the Revolution. It is also a commemoration to the nine enslaved African Americans who worked in this house during George Washington's time there, two of whom escaped. It is part of the Independence National Historical Park site, and features a house outline and partial elevation, with interpretive displays on Porcelite panels and illustrated glass, including text and video 24 hours a day. In addition to the history of the site and the people who lived and worked there, the interpretive material explores the paradox of a nation founded on the principle of equality and freedom while still allowing the institution of slavery [1; 9].
Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent
Located in a historic 1826 building and located just around the corner from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, the Philadelphia History Museum has served as a gateway into Philadelphia History for nearly 70 years.
The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent serves Greater Philadelphia by fostering among its citizens and visitors a deeper understanding and appreciation of the city, its historical artifacts and its rich legacy. Drawing on its premier 100,000 piece collection of objects, paintings, and photographs for exhibitions, programs, and electronic media, the museum's purpose is to educate present generations, especially school children, to learn from the past in ways that enrich their lives and improve their futures.
Congress Hall, located on Philadelphia’s Independence Square, served as the seat of the U.S. Congress from December 6, 1790 through May 14, 1800 while Philadelphia was the nation’s capital. The building was initially the Philadelphia County Courthouse when construction was completed in 1789. It went back to that function after Congress moved to the newly created Washington D.C. Congress Hall has since been restored, is now part of the larger Independence National Historical Park and is open for guided tours on a daily basis from March through December.
Independence Hall is considered the birthplace of the United States. Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed in this building. Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Independence Hall served as the first capitol building for the United States. From the years 1732 until 1756 the building was being built to serve as the state house for Pennsylvania. This building was originally designed to house all three branches of government; the legislative, the judicial, and the executive branches. During the Second Continental Congress, which later became the Constitutional Convention, the state of Pennsylvania loaned out their assembly room for the convention to meet. It was there at Independence Hall in 1776 that George Washington was named Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. In 1781, the Articles of Confederation were adopted in Independence Hall. And in 1787, our founding fathers and statesmen from the newly independent country signed the U.S. Constitution, the same constitution that is in place today. The living document has been amended but the ideals of the founding fathers still lives on.
In Independence Hall visitors can explore the building by taking a guided tour. The guided tour takes the visitors though a number of rooms that are set up in the way that they would have looked during the Revolution. The ranger lead tour is very informative and really transports the visitor. The Assembly Room, which is the most famous, visitors can see the exact room where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed. Being in the same room that both of these important documents in American history were signed gives one goose bumps. A crossed the hall from the Assembly Room is the Courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The second floor of the building houses the Long Gallery, Governor's Council Chamber, and the Committee of the Assembly Chamber. The Long Gallery, originally served as a reception area for visitors waiting to see the Governor. It also was the host of parties and dinners hosted by the Governor. During the British occupation, the Long Gallery was used as a hospital to care for wounded American prisoners of war. The Governor's Council Chamber was where Pennsylvania's Supreme Executive Council met during the 1700's. The Committee of the Assembly Chamber was used as a room for meetings and military storage during the 1700's and was the office of the U.S. Marshal during the 1800's.
Independence National Historical Park does not only include Independence Hall, but it also includes the Liberty Bell Center and the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Independence National Historical Park also includes a visitors center that includes theaters that shows films based on the time, exhibits, and a gift shop. The park is open daily except for Christmas Day from 9am until 5pm. Independence National Historical Park is a great place to spend a day learning all about the roots of American history.
Robert Morris Statue
Robert Morris’ statue is situated between the First and Second National Banks, in the Independence National Historical Park, as a reminder of his pivotal role in the Revolution, 1734 - 1806. The monument represents Robert Morris, dressed in great coat and Tricorn hat, struggling through the snow to raise money for Washington's troops at Valley Forge.
Robert Morris Jr. (1734-1806) was an American merchant and a signer to the United States Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution. Morris was known as the Financier of the Revolution, because of his role in securing financial assistance for the American side in the Revolutionary War. Ironically, he was sent to debtor's prison in later life.
Philadelphia's Old City Hall
Philadelphia’s Independence Hall is flanked by two buildings, one is Congress Hall, where the country’s first congressional sessions took place, and the other is Old City Hall. It is actually the city’s second iteration of a city hall and it did not exclusively serve as such for much of its existence. Designed by David Evans Jr., in the Federalist style, Old City Hall was completed in 1791 and served this purpose until 1854. The current city hall was completed in 1901. Old City Hall shared space with the U.S. Supreme Court until 1800 when the federal capital moved to Washington D.C. It is part of the Independence Hall Complex which is contained within the larger Independence National Historical Park.
American Philosophical Society Museum
Behind the east wing of Independence Hall is Philosophical Hall, a brick building erected in the late 1780s that was our nation’s first museum, national library and academy of science. Inside, changing exhibitions highlight the intersections of science, history and art. Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Lewis and Clark journals are among the important documents, scientific specimens, patent models, portraits, maps, rare books and manuscripts that comprise this remarkable collection.
Benjamin Franklin Museum
This museum is located adjacent to where Benjamin Franklin's house once stood back in the 1700's, and is taking up residence in the Independence National Historic Park. The museum is 20,000 square feet and underground. The exhibits and museum store are underground as well. To get visitors in the appropriate mind set, before the museum entrance is the Benjamin Franklin Ghost house. Above ground, this ghost house is a steel structure designed by architects to trace outlines of Franklin's old house and his old printing shop. Established in 1976, the museum has gone through a massive upgrade within the last two years and reopened to the public in August 2013.
Chemical Heritage Foundation
The Chemical Heritage Foundation is an institute dedicated to the history not just of chemistry, but of technology, research and development, and science as a whole. Founded in 1982 as the Center for the History of Chemistry, a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania and the American Chemical Society, the Foundation houses a museum, a library, archives, a conference center, and a research center, all dedicated to expanding the knowledge and ever-expanding history of the sciences.
Home to the oldest craft guild in the United States, Carpenter's Hall was the meeting place of the First Continental Congress. In response to the passage of the Coercive Acts by the British government, 56 Representative from 12 of the 13 American colonies met in this building between September 5th and October 26, 1774, The delegates issued a protest against the British government but stopped far short of declaring independence, requesting instead that the colonists be able to enjoy a measure of local autonomy within the British Empire. The colonists acknowledged London's authority over matters of trade and diplomacy, but insisted that they, like all other Englishmen, could only be taxed by their elected representatives. Britain ignored the delegates, pushing the colonists further towards independence.
Dolley Todd House
Prior to becoming Dolley Madison in 1794, Dolley Todd and her first husband, John Todd, lived at this house from 1791-1793. This 18th century, 3-story, Georgian home was built in 1775 by John Dilworth. John Todd died in 1793 and, soon after, Dolley married James Madison. She remained in Philadelphia until the Madisons retired, temporarily, to the family estate at Montpelier in Virginia in 1797. The house is now part of the larger Independence National Historical Park. It has been restored to how it looked while it was occupied by the Todds with period artifacts and furniture. It is occasionally open as a house museum that provides a window into the life of a solidly middle-class, Philadelphia family at the end of the 18th century.