Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Philadelphia: Meets or Exceeds Expectations

I’m not sure that either of us had much expectation of Philadelphia, good or bad. Neither of us has ever been here before, and certainly we are not seeing anything but a corner of the city, along Market Street where the Independence National Historical Park is, but I have to say that our Tuesday activities were a real treat.

As opposed to colonial Williamsburg which seems just a bit too precious, too overprocessed, here the National Park Service and local groups have done a masterful job of interpreting the 18th century city in the midst of a modern downtown.

Of course, the history behind much of what we saw today is familiar. I have, in the recent past, taught colonial history and independence at the undergrad and graduate levels, but seeing the actual sites, that is another thing entirely.

Gotta start with Independence Hall, site of the creation of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States
The Second Bank of the US, Mr. Madison's answer to Hamilton's First Bank which he had let lapse, disastrously, in 1811

A recreation of New Hall, seat of the War Department

The Courtyard where Benjamin Franklin's house used to stand, behind his shops, the frame is a virtual representation rising from the excavated foundations. Later, on a tour, we would learn that the answer to any question about the history of Philadelphia is Ben Franklin. He is everywhere.
The streetscape over time

His printing shop

The printshop and next to it The Aurora, an incendiary Jeffersonian paper published by Benjamin Franklin Bache,  Franklin's grandson.

This lovely building, Carpenter's Hall, is not a recreation but is the actual space where the first Continental Congress met in '74

The rear entry to Carpenter's Hall. Our friend waits to greet us
Window detail

Interior front door

Front of the building
18th century streetscape along Walnut Street

Rosa gets screened before entering Independence Hall and wins a fan

Can't have too many images of this building

The ranger who conducted this tour was pretty weary of the ubiquitous school groups by 3:30, but he knew his stuff and I like his characterization of this chamber as, "the most historic room in the most historic building in the most historic square mile of America." That about nails it

I’m not sure there is too much more to say really. We return Wednesday and hope to get a somewhat broader view of the city and on Thursday we are off to Warwick, New York to visit family.

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