America's Birthplace

Trip Start Feb 15, 2010
Trip End Feb 14, 2011

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Where I stayed
Wal-Mart (Philadelphia)

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Sunday, April 4, 2010

Today I visited the historic center of Philadelphia.  The two main attractions in this area are the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall.

I stopped at the Liberty Bell Center first and made my way through the museum that described the history of the bell, and how it came to be a symbol synonymous with liberty and freedom for all sorts of rights movements across the nation and around the world.  The bell itself is mounted at eye-level in a tall white room just before the exit from the museum, and it still has it's original wooden support; although, no one is quite sure what type of wood it was made from.  The wall behind the bell is made all of windows that look across the street at Independence Hall.  The bell itself was cast in a British foundry and cracked the very first time it was ever tested, as workers were preparing to hang it in the Pennsylvania State House.  Johns Pass and Stow were hired to re-cast the bell and despite multiple attempts the bell never reached its full potential.  It was used during many significant events throughout history, including the opening of the first continental congress, and its last use was in 1846 when it developed a series of cracks too severe to repair while being rung to commemorate Washington's Birthday.  Today, on every 4th of July, descendants of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence meet at the bell and symbolically tap on it 13 times to signify the 13 original states.

My next stop was across the street at Independence Hall.  It was in this building that both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were created.  Numerous security personnel surround the block of buildings with Independence Hall, and the building has been well maintained to stay exactly as it was.  Visiting inside Independence Hall only takes place in guided group tours, and if you are ever planning on visiting, you should make sure to reserve tickets online.  If you don't, there is a good chance you won't be able to get in.  If it's any indication of the site's popularity; I was there on Easter Sunday, and the tours were still completely full.  The volunteer guides do have a lot of information to share, trivia like the fact that the Continental Congress actually voted for independence on July 2nd, the document was dated July 4th, and the signing of the hand-written document that is on display at the National Archives didn't actually occur until August 2nd.  They also told a story about the chair that George Washington sat in as he presided over the Federal Convention while they decided on the details of the Constitution.  In the back of the chair, there is carved a sun, and as the final members were signing the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin is said to have remarked that he often looked at the chair, "without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting, but now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising, and not a setting sun.  It was definitely a worthwhile visit to see the very place where all of those great minds met together and toiled to forge the documents that are the backbone of our country. 

After leaving Independence Hall, I wandered around the area a little while and took some photos before heading back to the parking garage to get my car and drive back to a Wal-Mart out near the piers.
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