Philadelphia Beyond the Liberty Bell (Walking Tour)

This tour offers something for local as well as first-time visitors to the city, starting with the Athenaeum and Washington Park. The tour winds its way north to the Constitution Center, Liberty Bell, and other leading historic sites, but also includes a dozen lesser-known monuments, museums, buildings, and markers.

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Athenaeum of Philadelphia
The Athenaeum of Philadelphia dates back to 1814 when it was established as a library and archive. The building is unique in that it was created in a classic Italianate style, and its holdings chronicle the history and culture of Philadelphia. The collection is also particularly strong in the field of early American architecture and the decorative arts. The archives are home to over three hundred thousand photographs and a thousand manuscript collections. The Athenaeum is both a National Historic Landmark (1977) and an active library and archive, and it is open to the public.
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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.
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Bicentennial Moon Tree
Bicentennial Moon Tree, commonly known as the “Moon Tree”, was a special sycamore tree planted in Philadelphia’s Washington Square Park in 1975 to honor the U.S. Bicentennial from seeds transported to the moon and back on the Apollo XIV mission in 1971, by astronaut Stuart A. Roosa. The sycamore tree that was planted in Washington Square Park died circa 2008. As of 2011 there was still the base of the tree standing. In a ceremony on September 24th (which is National Public Lands Day) gardeners at Independence National Historical Park planted a clone created from the ailing Moon Tree. The tree that went to outer space was recycled to be made into wooden features or plaques on the park’s grounds.
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Washington Square
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].
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Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier
The origins of this unique monument date back to the early 1950s, when the Washington Square Planning Committee of Philadelphia discussed the creation of a monument to George Washington. After months of discussion, the committee decided to incorporate the image of Washington into a tribute to all of the Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War. The monument was named the “Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier” and designed by Edwin Brumbaugh.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Declaration House (Graff House)
Built by bricklayer Jacob Graff, Jr. in 1775, two rooms of the Graff House were rented by Thomas Jefferson during the summer of 1776 while he wrote the Declaration of Independence. In honor of the Bicentennial in 1976, The Declaration House was reconstructed from photographs and descriptions of the original building, and refurnished with reproduced period furniture including Jefferson's swivel chair and lap desk. The house museum also includes exhibits and a film on the drafting of the Declaration.
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National Constitution Center
The first and only institution in America established by Congress to "disseminate information about the United States Constitution. the 160,000-square-foot National Constitution Center explores the history and historic significance of the Constitution through high-tech exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays.
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Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell was commissioned in 1751 to commemorate William Penn's Charter of Privileges (1701)-the first constitution of Pennsylvania colony A verse from Leviticus 25:10 is inscribed upon the bell "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof." The crack in the bell developed in the 1830s, but the quality of the bell was suspect from its earliest day. After being recast, the colony ordered a second bell but decided to keep the original. That second bell was sold to a Philadelphia Catholic church in 1828. After an anti-Catholic mob destroyed that church and damaged the second bell in 1844, that bell was recast and is now the property of Villanova University.
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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].
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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.
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Congress Hall
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.
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Independence Hall
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Second Bank of the United States
Part of Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, the building that is most famous for housing the Second Bank of the United States was completed in 1824. It represented the nation’s second effort at creating a national bank after the First Bank was not re-chartered in 1811. It served as the nation’s bank until it was dismantled, largely by President Andrew Jackson, in 1836. The building now serves the city as an art gallery that features its “People of Independence” exhibit. This exhibit displays over 150 portraits of influential 18th and 19th century Americans. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
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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.
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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.
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Carpenter's Hall
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.
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New Hall Military Museum
The museum is located in Carpenters' Court, along Chestnut Street between 3rd and 4th Streets. This building is a reconstruction of the one constructed by the Carpenters' Company in 1791 and originally used to house the office of the first Secretary of War, Henry Knox, and his staff. The building currently houses exhibits highlighting the founding of the United States Marine Corps and the Army and Navy Departments from the American Revolution through the last decades of the 18th century.
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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.

This tour was created by Clio Admin on 12/19/16 .

This tour has been taken 113 times since January 2017.