5 Things to Do in Philadelphia this Independence Day

July 4th, 2012 by The JetSetter Team | Comments Off on 5 Things to Do in Philadelphia this Independence Day

Philadelphia is pretty much ground zero for everything patriotic in America, not by virtue of being so much more intensely in tune with an incredible sense of nationalism, but, more to the point, it’s where many of the Founding Fathers were hanging out when this nation was going through birthing pains. So, have you been to Philly yet? By the time you read this, it will probably be too late to cash in on this year’s Independence Day celebration, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go at some point in the future.

Most people are vaguely aware there’s a big bell somewhere in the city that stands for something patriotic. It can’t be rung anymore because it’s got a crack. And then there was a collection old dudes who got together a long time ago and signed some kind of document. Ding ding ding – you’re right! That would be the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Both are

excellent stops on your tour of the city but we’re going to give you so much here. Not one, not two, not three, not four, but five – count ‘em – five places to visit in Philadelphia in honor of our country’s founding.

The Liberty Bell – The bell now called the Liberty Bell was cast in the Whitechapel Foundry in the East End of London and sent to the building currently known as Independence Hall, then the Pennsylvania State House, in 1753. It was an impressive looking object, 12 feet in circumference around the lip with a 44-pound clapper. Inscribed at the top was part of a Biblical verse from Leviticus, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof.” Unfortunately, the clapper cracked the bell on its first use. A couple of local artisans, John Pass and John Stow, recast the bell twice, once adding more copper to make it less brittle and then adding silver to sweeten its tone. No one was quite satisfied, but it was put in the tower of the State House anyway.

Independence Hall – They risked everything — “their lives, their fortune and their sacred honor.” During the blistering summer of 1776, 56 courageous men gathered at the Pennsylvania State House and defied the King of England. Eleven years later, representatives from 12 states gathered to shape the U.S. Constitution, finally creating one unified nation. The guided tour of Independence Hall, led by National Park rangers, begins in the courtroom where lawyers from opposing sides shared tables and law books. George Washington’s “rising sun” chair dominates the Assembly Room which is arranged as it was during the Constitutional Convention. In the adjacent West Wing, the original inkstand used to sign the Declaration and an original draft of the Constitution are displayed.

The Franklin Institute – In 1824, The Franklin Institute opened in Independence Hall to honor Benjamin Franklin and his inventiveness. In 1934, with the construction of the current building and the adjacent Fels Planetarium, it became a hands-on science museum. The IMAX Theater and the Mandell Center were added in 1990. Today, it’s Pennsylvania’s most visited museum. In the museum’s rotunda is the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, with a 20-foot-tall marble statue of the scientist and Founding Father.

Valley Forge National Historic Park – With more than 3,600 acres of rolling hills and well-worn trails, Valley Forge is now a magnet for runners, bicyclists and picnickers as well as history buffs. The vast expanse of open space links the Schuylkill River Trail to the Horse Shoe Trail, turning the park into a major hub in a 75-mile system linking Philadelphia to the Appalachian Trail. Yet the monuments, statues and buildings that evoke more than 225 years of American history give this expanse of nature a palpable sense of the past, making it a favorite destination for families.

The Rocky Statue – One of Philadelphia’s most famous pieces of public art is a bigger-than-life boxer… literally. Originally created for Rocky III, the sculpture is now a real-life monument to a celluloid hero. The fictional Rocky Balboa of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky movies was immortalized in bronze in 1980. After filming for the movie completed, Stallone donated the statue to the City of Philadelphia. The statue is located at the bottom of the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, so be sure to get a photo with Rocky Balboa himself. Who says movies don’t matter?

Alrighty then, are you ready to get yourself to Philadelphia and celebrate some Americana? Go for it!

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Flickr / chriscoyier

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