Once the largest and most important city in America, Philadelphia combines the present and past in a way that satisfies tourists and locals alike. While it may have lost some of its significance as the country expanded and adapted, there are still plenty of things to do and important places to visit. History buffs will find a plethora of sites to please their insatiable thirst for historical experiences.
As the starting point of the American Revolution, Carpenters’ Hall is the location of a pivotal vote that set the oppositional wheels in motion against England. This iconic building spurred what would become the country’s independence and is known as the “Birthplace of Liberty.” A visit to this landmark will show you original furniture and documents from its heyday as a revolutionary political hub, as well as a painting of George Washington. It has been inhabited for many purposes over its lifetime, including the Library Company in the 1700s and the First Bank of the United States at the end of the 18th century.
The Betsy Ross House
It’s no surprise that the woman who is widely associated with designing the first American flag lived in Philadelphia. While there is some debate about who was truly responsible for the flag’s design, Betsy Ross remains a significant figure in American history. Her house is open for tours and you can watch as a reenactor stitches the stars and stripes onto the flag.
The Liberty Bell
In the late 1800s, the Liberty Bell was taken on a tour around the country to inspire and uplift America’s citizens; it was displayed at small town centers, large cities, festivals, and fairs. Famous for its large crack, it now sits in Independence Hall as a testament to the courageous efforts of the revolutionary era. The crack you see on the Bell is actually the result of an attempted repair in 1846. Its inscription references liberty to all inhabitants and inspiration has been found from this verbiage by many.
After viewing the Liberty Bell, continue exploring Independence Hall. This is the site where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed and it is dripping with history. You can schedule a tour if you want to maximize the educational factor, just make sure you do so well in advance. This is an insanely popular attraction and spots fill up quickly.
Museum of the American Revolution
Philadelphia is associated with the American Revolution about as much as any city can be compared to a movement; you cannot separate the two. As such, a visit to this city would not be complete without a stop at the Museum of the American Revolution. Situated in the heart of historic Philly, this museum is packed full of knowledge about this important part of history. Start your exploration at the Lenfest Myer Theater and let their short film, “Revolution,” set the stage for your visit. The museum’s many immersive exhibits create an organic learning environment.
As America’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street, Elfreth’s Alley is like no other street you’ll find. A stroll down the cobblestones of this alley will make you feel like you’re in a different world. The narrow distance between the rows of homes is a reminder of the slower pace (and lack of cars) on streets centuries ago. While most of the buildings remain private residences, two of the homes have been turned into museums, offering a chance to see inside these iconic buildings.
Tourists from abroad will gain immense insight into American history by making a visit to Philadelphia, as it is essentially the birthplace of the country. But let’s not pretend that American citizens can’t enjoy and benefit from this trip. There’s something uniquely invigorating about feeling like you’ve stepped back in time to get a glimpse of the world from long ago. Kudos to you if you can get that feeling and learn something new at the same time. Philadelphia delivers excitement and education in one package deal.