Yesterday we went into historic Philadelphia to spend the day exploring some of the most significant places in our nation’s history. The entire experience left me feeling profoundly humbled and grateful for the freedoms I all too often take for granted. To walk the grounds where our great Nation was born and to stand in the very room where our story began affected me. It was a powerful and even spiritually touching experience which left me feeling emotional.
Since this was our first time visiting historic Philadelphia I did some research before we left on what sites were in the area and which were most recommended for someone only visiting for the day. In my research I came across “The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia: Take a free self-guided walking tour through America’s most historic square mile.” I downloaded the free walking tour guide and we used it to guide us through our day.
(On a side note the entire day was free of charge with the exception of our delicious dinner at the City Tavern.)
Here is a look at our day (with descriptions from the self-guided tour.
We began our day at the Independence Visitor Center.
“Visitors to the Independence Visitor Center will discover a range of services and amenities that provide a warm welcome and all of the information you need to plan your visit to the Philadelphia area including Independence National Historical Park. Get your free timed tour tickets for Independence Hall on the morning of your visit, on a first-come, first-served basis. Throughout the day, you can watch two films: Independence and Choosing Sides “
Molly stamping each of our tickets with a national park passport stamp.
My children: American heroes. 🙂
The kids had fun assembling the United States floor puzzle at the Visitor’s Center.
. Then we walked (well everyone else walked while Toby pushed me in the wheelchair) over to Independence Hall. The kids were excited, having recognized this historic building from the movie National Treasure. With our free timed tour tickets in hand we waited for our 11:20 tour to begin.
“Independence Hall, the birthplace of America, was built in 1732 as the Pennsylvania State House. Within this hallowed hall, the Second Continental Congress met in May 1775, and The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. Independence Hall is also where the Constitutional Convention met to draft, debate and then sign The United States Constitution on September 17, 1787.”
The historic hall that gave birth to a new nation.
Then we moved into the adjoining hall to view three historic documents, including George Washington’s copy of the constitution and an original copy of the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation.
The next stop was Congress Hall:
“Constructed between 1787 and 1789 as the Philadelphia County Court House, Congress Hall served as the United States Capitol, the meeting place of the United States Congress, from 1790 to 1800, when Philadelphia was the Capital of the United States. The House of Representatives met on the main floor, while the Senate assembled upstairs. From its earliest days, the Senate thus came to be referred to as the “upper chamber.” Among the historic events that took place here were the inaugurations of President George Washington (his second) and President John Adams.”
Sitting in the room where John Adams was sworn in as our second president.
The we walked across the road to The Liberty Bell Center. This was the stop most of my kids (especially Ozzie) was most excited about,
“As the official bell of the Pennsylvania State House, which is today called Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell rang many times for public announcements. It may have rung on July 8, 1776 to announce the first public reading of The Declaration of Independence. The Liberty Bell, which weighs about 2,000 pounds, was silenced by a crack in 1846. Its inscription reads: “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof” – Leviticus XXV, v.10, The Bible. The new Liberty Bell Center features exciting exhibits on the history of this world-famous icon of freedom.”
“Proclaim Liberty Throughout all the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof.”
Then it was on to Franklin Court and the Ben Franklin museum:
“Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s Founding Fathers, was a very accomplished author, diplomat, inventor, philanthropist, political pundit, printer, statesman and scientist during his 84-year life. Franklin’s house once stood in Franklin Court, however it was razed in 1812. Today, the Robert Venturi-designed “Ghost House” stands depicting the frame of Franklin’s home. Below Franklin Court is a museum which is filled with paintings, objects and inventions; the museum also continuously shows The Real Ben Franklin movie.”
Tyler learning about the printing process.
Ben Franklin was a great lover of chess, we learned, just like our Russ.
Traveling in style…Ben Franklin style!
Located on this same plot of land is the print shop.
“Years before his little kite-flying escapade, young Benjamin Franklin was making quite a name for himself as a printer. Progressing from apprentice to master printer, he took over publication of The Pennsylvania Gazette, and it soon became the most successful newspaper in the colonies.
An 18th century print shop is recreated here on the site of his original property. Independence National Historical Park (INHP) rangers give demonstrations of the labor-intensive process of turning out a daily newspaper. Leather daubers stuffed with cotton are used to apply the ink. Then it’s onto the hand-operated 18th century printing press. The final product hangs from the drying racks along the ceiling. Typesetting desks and the tiny little letters and numbers are also displayed.”
The park ranger demonstrating the 18th century printing process.
Molly purchased one of the printed papers that were for sale for 25 cents.
Our final stop before stopping to eat was the B. Free Franklin Post Office & Museum:
“B. Free Franklin Post Office & Museum is the only Colonial-themed post office operated by the United States Postal Service. It is a living portrayal of a bygone Colonial lifestyle, and it is the only active post office in the United States that does not fly the American flag (because there was not yet one in 1775 when Benjamin Franklin was appointed Postmaster General). The postmark “B. Free Franklin” is still used to cancel stamps. The museum on the second floor features displays of postal history and memorabilia.”
The kids had each purchased a post card at the visitor’s center to mail home to themselves from the oldest post office in America. They got a kick out of it!
Mailing their postcards.
Then we ended our day with a 4:00 lunch/dinner at the City Tavern:
The City Tavern is the tavern where delegates of the First and Second Continental Congresses met, as well as where delegates of the Constitutional Convention met. The City Tavern played host to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. Today, the restaurant serves lunch and dinner, and it offers visitors the chance to enjoy a taste of the past.
Homemade bread, including Thomas Jefferson’s sweet potato biscuits.
It was a fun way to end our historic walk through Old Philadelphia. The atmosphere was delightful as we were served by waitresses in colonial dress and ate off pewter dishes. The food was delicious!! It was a little more costly than what we would normally spend on a meal out, with most dishes averaging $12.00 on the mid-day menu, but it was so worth it! The food was incredible and uniquely reflective of that time period:
This was what everyone ordered:
Toby- Applewood Smoked Pork Chop
Katie- Paillard of Salmon
Grace- Chicken Breast Madeira
Molly- Colonial Turkey Pot Pie
Rusty- Veal and Herb Sausage
Tyler and Ozzie- Fish and Chips
The entire day was enjoyed by all and left us all feeling reflective and all the more grateful for the simple, humble men who did such a brave, unprecedented, and extraordinary thing 240 years ago.