The Birthplace of USA – Philadelphia

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So when you think about old historical cities you are probably thinking about historical European cities or maybe ancient, Chinese/Indian regions but you are probably not thinking about Philadelphia as being up there with the leading locations around the world. Well, if you have an American background you are probably aware of why ‘Philly’ is such an important location in US history.

In the late 18th Century when America was still under the power of the sovereign British throne, members of the 13 original colonies embarked on a meeting place in Philadelphia and came to the decision that enough was enough and they wanted to have their independence. Cutting all ties in terms of control with the British Empire was going to be a long fought struggle but eventually on July 4, 1776 the United States of America were able to celebrate what is commonly known today as Independence Day.

Entering Philly today, you see a mixture of a remake and originality of the past two centuries of history present here. Here is a quick review of the top landmarks present in Philadelphia, PA, some of which are related to the topic of independence while others are more infamous for movie traits or other domains in society:

Independence Hall

This is where it all started! Independence Hall is the home of where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted.

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Walking around the guided tour which just as a sidenote requires you to get tickets (they are free by the way!) in the morning for an afternoon viewing, is a real treat and the experienced guides have plenty to talk about as they describe the rooms that you set foot in and recall how the likes of Adams, Jefferson and Washington sat in those infamous seats and discussed the nation’s future.

Liberty Bell

The bell tower steeple of Independence Hall was the original home of the Liberty Bell. It has since been moved to the Liberty Bell Center which sits just outside the grounds of Independence Hall. Walking through the location you are given detailed descriptions through wall displays and videos of the history behind the iconic bell. The final part of the self-guided tour of the Center is to actually stand beside the impressive structure.

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Professor Constance M. Greiff, in her book tracing the history of Independence National Historical Park, wrote of the Liberty Bell:

The Liberty Bell is the most venerated object in the park, a national icon. It is not as beautiful as some other things that were in Independence Hall in those momentous days two hundred years ago, and it is irreparably damaged. Perhaps that is part of its almost mystical appeal. Like our democracy it is fragile and imperfect, but it has weathered threats, and it has endured.

Philadelphia City Hall

Located in the heart of downtown Philly, City Hall is the nation’s largest municipal building that serves the Philly government. It is specifically situated in the exact geographical center of William Penn’s original 1682 plans for the city, now known as the intersections of Broad and Market Streets – Center Square.

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This impressive structure is at the pinnacles of the downtown area. With so much traffic moving around this area via public transportation and day to day activities, City Hall certainly does not go unnoticed to passing bystanders.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

You may be wondering how the Philadelphia Museum of Art gets on a list of such iconic landmarks. Well if you are interested in art you would probably know why right? Of course, it’s one of the largest museums of art in USA and it invites visitors from around the world to explore its renowned collections and acclaimed special exhibitions. And that’s the Museum of Art….or is that all it’s famous for??? If you have seen the picture above you may be wondering where you have seen these infamous steps before. Well they are at the heart of one of the most famous movies of all time – Rocky! To honor Rocky’s training regime up the steps, there is a statue of the legend himself at the bottom and this is certainly one of the major tourist attractions in the Philadelphia downtown area.

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As famous as the statue itself are the stairs leading to the East Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, aka “The Rocky Steps.” Making the iconic trip up the steps is regarded as a symbol of perseverance and determination. So now you probably realize why the Museum of Art is included in this list of Philly landmarks.

Sports Stadiums

If you are a sports fanatic and are in the Philadelphia area, head down the Broad Street (orange) line on the subway and get off at the AT&T station because you will be close to all of Philly’s major league stadiums. If you are interested in MLB, you can catch the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Lincoln Financial Field is home to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and the Wells Fargo Center is home to the 76ers. A great spot to catch some afternoon or evening entertainment because all three are within walking distance of each other.

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Even though I spent almost a week in Philadelphia primarily for a conference at the Pennslyvania Convention Center in downtown Philly, I had sufficient time to investigate all of the above landmarks and each one is definitely very impressive and worth visiting.

31 COMMENTS

  1. I love and miss Philly! had the pleasure of living there for 11 years. Off the tourist beaten path are some GREAT local places, and markets that you should check out! the city has so much to offer!

    • Of course, who could forget good old Rocky! The statue in front of the Art Museum is pretty cool to see and then you definitely have to at least ‘try’ and run up and down the infamous Rocky steps where he did those long training runs every morning.

      Philly is a beautiful city and a great setting for those Stallone movies.

    • Samantha, it’s just like any other famous landmark – you just have to see it for yourself! Just like you would with the Statue of Liberty in NYC or the Eiffel Tower, I would recommend anyone heading to Philly to see the Liberty Bell and especially the crack that runs down the side. It’s a cool experience and the setting is perfect right outside Independence Hall where the Constitution was signed!

    • If you get the opportunity to visit Philly, go for it! You won’t be disappointed and of course you can’t leave Philadelphia without your picture taken with Rocky!!

    • As I keep saying Ashley, there is nothing at all wrong with having dreams and aspirations AKA ‘A Bucket List’ of places you want to visit. Philly is a great city to visit in NE USA, there is so much to do there and of course the city is steeped in history (well, if you are American that is, LOL!). Either way, it’s really great and I am looking forward to showing Heather around the sights hopefully this weekend.

    • Thanks Constance!! Yes, I am hoping us heading back this weekend will allow us to explore a little more than I was able to last year at the conference.

      The Phillies game was really cool, I am not a huge baseball fan but even so going for the experience was worth it!

    • Thanks Sharon! We are excited about heading there to check out the city more. Philly is packed full of attractions and historic landmarks.

  2. I like Philly! I kind of visited Philly by accident. We’ve been on a cruise ship during September, 11th events. We were supposed to dock in NYC on our way back from Canada. But NYC was entirely closed and instead we ended up in Philadelphia. Never had time to explore all the landmarks. But liked a lot the little that I’ve seen. Would love to go back.

    • I would say that’s an unfortunate way to end up in Philadelphia, but at least you were able to explore a little which will hopefully encourage you to head back there sometime. One of the good things about Philly is that a lot of the major attractions are free so it’s really a cost efficient city to be in as a traveler.

  3. Philadelphia has never really been high on my list of places to visit, not for any bad reason I just never really thought much about it before in comparison to other places I really want to see, but after reading this I’m definitely moving it up a few notches! Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell must be amazing pieces of history to see first hand.

    Great post!

    • Mike, I felt exactly the same way about Philadelphia before I visited there last year for a work conference. It just never appealed for some reason, maybe my reasons are different from yours but either way I heard several negative comments about the city but after visiting here I can completely dismiss those and form my own opinion which is very positive.

      Of course the key attractions that you mentioned are cool to visit but there is much more to this city than those, the local restaurants/eateries inside the Reading Terminal Market are great and Moriarty’s Irish Pub is a must if you like Irish pub cuisine. All of this is just in the downtown area, we have yet to visit Philly and be able to explore further afield.

      Thanks for the kind comments!

    • Admittedly history was never my strong suit in school and my lack of history in either British or American history probably makes me less opinionated on these key American landmarks. However, after experiencing the Independence Hall Tour and seeing the Liberty Bell, it really was a cool experience that I enjoyed doing again yesterday with Heather. You learn something a little different each time you visit, plus listening to the slightly different version of events from tour guides is great.

  4. We have yet to explore any part of America but Philly may have to be added to the list. I tend to forget that America does have a history, although many Americans I have spent time with seem to forget it as well. Americans often say it must be lovely to live in such a historic place and I suppose they are referring to the architecture that surrounds us in Europe but we are all forgetting the history that they do have. Even if they are not surrounded by crumbling ruins where gladiators would have fought for their lives or have a town totally reflective of a famous Bard they do have a history and one that deserves to be remembered all the same. Thanks for reminding me of this! 🙂

    • That’s a great point you make! Moving from England about 7 years ago, I took our history and heritage for granted. Here in the States everything is relatively new in comparison but even so there is a history behind all of this. Exploring Independence Hall where USA was formed with the original 13 colonies and those landmark key figures such as Adams, Franklin and Jefferson really reminds you of the history that there has been here especially since 1776.

    • Thanks Chaitanya, I would highly recommend Philadelphia if you get chance to head on over here to explore. Plus it’s location in relation to other key cities in USA is great with New York City and Washington DC both relatively close, with great train systems in place or a short flight accessible to both!

  5. Very informative. Haven’t been to Philly since I was a kid so this brought back a lot I had forgotten about! Thanks for that 😉

    • Cheers Erin, it would be interesting to see how much Philly has changed since you were last here. We did the Independence Hall tour again yesterday and it’s cool seeing the kids learning about their heritage and American history first hand in the place where it all started.

    • LOL, I can’t condone that but I have to admit that when we were stood there in front of the Liberty Bell, we were kind of thinking the same thing 🙂 Or at least watching someone else go and do it so that we were not the ones getting in trouble. By all accounts though, the bell is pretty fragile.

  6. Right on, it’s definitely easy to overlook the fascinating history of some places. The buildings look so beautiful. I love the mixture of old school and contemporary architecture.

    • Very true Anastasia! I think one aspect that I really enjoyed is the fact that York has maintained so much of the medieval look and yet they are able to move forward among today’s modernization.

  7. Being a Virginian, I would quibble that America’s birthplace is Jamestown, and not Philadelphia – even though I realize that the colonies did not become “American” until later on in Philly! ;P Great post, though! We were able to visit Philly in 2012 and the only thing we weren’t able to squeeze into our weekend was a quick run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art a la Rocky Balboa style! Maybe next time!

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