Philadelphia’s Constitution Walking Tour

02 May

There were so many important things to see in Philadelphia.

We actually saw all of them TWICE.

On our first day in Philadelphia,

we independently walked around the key historic locations,

stopping inside those which were of interest.

Then, on our second and last day,

we took a walking tour with a guide

through the same locations.

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Our first port of call, after the visitor’s centre for a map,

was the President’s House.

This site was only recently (as in 2010) included as one of the historic sites.

This house was like the White House,

while government resided in Philadelphia in those early years.

Both Washington and Adams lived here.

Nowadays you can see a replica footprint of the house

and walk through the rooms.

It seems quite small but you have to remember that it was a multi-storey building.

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They actually found the foundations of the house

when they were building the new Liberty Bell Centre.

In the late 2000s, there was a massive archaeological dig at the site

but now it’s been filled in again and only this little area remains open.

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From the location of Washington’s slave quarters,

(How’s that for a statement!),

you enter into the Liberty Bell Centre.

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We were so incredibly blessed to have been visiting during winter.

We were told that the queues and crowds to see the bell during summer

are phenomenal.

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When we were visiting,

we were there with only a handful of other people.

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Oh and should you ever visit these national icons,

make sure to talk to the park rangers.

They are a fountain of knowledge and only too willing to chat.

Once we learned this,

we stopped to talk with as many as we could find.

It was like going from tour guide to tour guide!

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Do you know the story of the crack in the Liberty Bell?

No, the crack isn’t that dirty big gap in the bell

that you can presently see.

That’s actually the repair.  Yep, it’s true!!

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The original crack was just a hair line fracture

similar to the one you can see running through the words

“Pass and Stow”.

Actually the original crack was on the original bell.

Pass and Stow recast this bell twice.

So this is the third attempt at making a bell they were happy with.

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Anyway, to fix this latest crack,

the method they used

was to carve out a bigger gap to prevent the crack from spreading

and to restore a melodious ringing sound.

However, that same crack reappeared and zigzagged its way to the top,

silencing the bell.

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As to the story that this was the bell that was rung when Independence was declared,

well apparently all the bells in the city were ringing.

This bell may not have been rung at all because,

by that year, the heavy bell was threatening to topple the steeple!

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Across the road from the Liberty Bell Centre

is Independence Hall.

This building was originally Pennsylvania’s State House.

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Make sure you behave yourself here.

The security guards are on high alert

and tolerate absolutely no shenanigans.

It was amusing watching people try to step over the chained off area

to be rushed at by armed guards.

Oh and be prepared to go through airport like security

at every single building.

That’s so much ‘fun’ when you are wearing a million and one jumpers

and winter woolies,

having to take them off and put them back on all the time.

But such is life in the US nowadays.

I’m so glad we are still a country free from fear.

Fear and freedom are usually words I’d associate together.

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Yes, we entered the courtyard in the ‘correct’ way,

via security screening,

and weren’t rushed at by guards

when we took our photo with George Washington

out the front of Independence Hall.

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And here are my men standing on the spot

where Abraham Lincoln stood

to raise the American flag

in 1861.

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Inside Independence Hall, there are two rooms

which you are permitted to visit with a park ranger

– the Courtroom and the Assembly Room.

This is the courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

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Isn’t the architecture amazing?!

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The whole building was gorgeous!

Now why don’t we build things for beauty as well as function nowadays.

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And this is the Assembly Room.

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This is the room people come to see.

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It’s where the Second Continental Congress was held

and where they voted and agreed upon the Declaration of Independence

and the US Constitution.

(Lincoln’s body also lay in repose in this room for two days after his assassination.)

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In a little building beside Independence Hall,

there are copies of famous documents.

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There is the printed copy of the Declaration of Independence

that was read to the public on July 8, 1776.

Nope, they didn’t read aloud that handwritten copy.

This is the copy that was read aloud that very first time.

How cool is that!

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There is also an original printed copy of the U.S. Constitution

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and the inkstand, which is believed to be the inkstand used

when both of these important documents were first signed.

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Beside Independence Hall is Congress Hall.

This was the US Capitol building in those early years

when Philadelphia was the capital of the US.

(Prior to that it had been the County Court House. )

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The House of Representatives was downstairs.

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Once again we were given an informal talk by a park ranger.

They were wonderful!

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We even got to sit in the House of Representatives’ seats.

I wonder what state we were representing.

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along with various studies

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and meeting rooms,

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was the Senate.

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Imagine John Adam, as Vice President,

sitting up in that chair.

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Oh and check this out.

In committee rooms, off the Senate,

there were paintings of Marie Antoinette

and King Louis the 16th.

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Check out the painting of Marie Antoinette.

Do you see what I see?

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Back out on Philly’s streets,

we wandered past Library Hall

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and stopped in to check out Old City Hall

where the US Supreme Court met

while in Philadelphia.

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Then we strolled down to the statue of

“The Signer”.

No, that’s not a microphone he’s holding.

It’s one of the important documents that were signed in the city of Philadelphia.

Oh and notice how his leg is positioned to show his calf muscle.

Apparently, in those days, showing a strong calf muscle

was equivalent to modern day folks showing bulging biceps.

Everywhere I looked after hearing this,

statues were showing me their bulging calf muscles!

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Next, we passed the office of the first Secretary of War,

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which is nowadays a Military Museum,

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to get to Carpenters’ Hall

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This is where the First Continental Congress was held.

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It’s quite a little building,

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but here sat the men

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who drew up those initial

grievances and appeals to the King.

Okay, perhaps not these exact men.

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After Carpenters’ Hall,

we went to visit Benjamin Franklin

…well, what’s left of his house.

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His house was torn down by a relative

but archaeologists have unearthed various bits of Ben’s house.

You don’t get much closer to Ben than his privy!

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I personally would have loved to see his library.

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Next to Franklin’s home

is his museum.

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This is a great place for kids.

There are so many hands on things to explore.

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Did you know that Ben invented an instrument

that both Mozart and Beethoven composed music for?

It was called a glass harmonica.

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We tried our hand at an electronic glass harmonica.

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There were lots of touch screen devices to explore in the museum.

Ethan’s a fan of these.

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Personally, I was drawn to Ben’s books.

Yes, these are books from Ben’s own library!

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This quote from Ben was my absolute favourite

– “…all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out in books”.

That’s a man after my own heart!

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He was an amazing man.

Definitely a man to learn more about.

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And once again, we were almost the only people

in the whole of the museum.

It was wonderful!

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Oh and a short walk from the museum,

you can pay your respects at Benjamin’s grave.

(Benjamin wouldn’t be happy about all those pennies tossed on his grave.

Don’t they know that a penny saved is a penny earned.)

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Near Benjamin’s house, we visited a print shop.

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When we arrived, we were just in time for another park ranger talk

and demonstration on how the printing press worked.

Our final stop was Christ Church.

What’s so interesting about yet another church?!

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This is Benjamin Franklin’s church!

(As well as Betsy Ross’, and George Washington’s and John Adams’, while they were in town).

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And THIS was Benjamin Franklin’s pew!!

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Yes, our butts are sitting where Benjamin Franklin sat every Sunday.

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And this is the baptismal font that William Penn was baptised in.

That’s very significant Pennsylvanian history.

And apparently it’s still in use.

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Gosh, there was so much to see in Philadelphia.

I’m glad we got to see it twice.

And our tour guide was fantastic.

After our tour she told us where to go

for the best Philly Cheese Steaks.

So of course we took her advice

and tried a famous Philly Cheese Steak.

They are delicious

…but a fast track ticket to blocked arteries!



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