Philadelphia Things to Do Tips by smschley

Philadelphia Things to Do: 812 reviews and 1,458 photos

Liberty Bell - Philadelphia
Liberty Bell Liberty Bell Review

On November 1, 1751, the Pennsylvania Assembly ordered a Bell to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges with the quotation "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," from Leviticus 25:10

The bell arrived in Philadelphia on September 1, 1752, but was not hung until March 10, 1753, on which day a crack appeared. Two attempts were made to melt and recast with the last one working on June 11, 1753

Tradition holds, it tolled for the First Continental Congress in 1774, the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775 and its most resonant tolling was on July 8, 1776, when it summoned the citizenry for the reading of the Declaration of Independence produced by the Second Continental Congress.

There is widespread disagreement about when the first crack appeared on the Bell. However, it is agreed that the final expansion of the crack which rendered the Bell unringable was on Washington's Birthday in 1846.

The Bell achieved an iconic status when abolitionists adopted the Bell as a symbol for the movement. It was first used in this association as a frontispiece to an 1837 edition of Liberty, published by the New York Anti-Slavery Society. . William Lloyd Garrison's anti-slavery publication The Liberator reprinted a Boston abolitionist pamphlet containing a poem about the Bell, entitled, The Liberty Bell, which represents the first documented use of the name, "Liberty Bell."

In 1847, George Lippard wrote a fictional story for The Saturday Currier which told of an elderly bellman waiting in the State House steeple for the word that Congress had declared Independence. Suddenly the bellman's grandson, who was eavesdropping on the doors of Congress, yelled to him, "Ring, Grandfather! Ring!". This story so captured the imagination of people throughout the land that

Directions: The entrance to the Liberty Bell Center is located on Market Street between 5th and 6th Streets. The building is open year round, though hours vary by season

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Congress Hall - Philadelphia
Congress Hall Congress Hall Review

Congress Hall sits right next door to Independence hall. When Philadelphia was the capital of the United States from 1790-1800 Congress occupied Congress Hall, The building has been restored to the way it looked during that period. The first floor was occupied by the House of Representatives with the upper floor occupied appropriately, by the upper house, or the Senate. In 1793, President George Washington was inaugurated here for a second term, and four years later, in a ceremony that ensured the continuation of our democracy, in the House of Representatives chamber, the reins of power were passed from George Washington to John Adams. At the close of the ceremony, John Adams waited for Washington to lead the exit, as everyone had grown accustomed to, but Washington insisted on leaving the room after the new President. Finally, and perhaps most important of all, the Bill of Rights was ratified while Congress met in these rooms.

On the first floor in the House chambers, the valances of dark green above the windows enhance the mahogany of the desks and studded leather chairs. In the south bay is an alcove where Representatives smoked, and drank sherry, port, and madeira. Note too, the small boxes filled with sand near the fireplaces. These were spitting boxes, used in an age when snuff and chewing tobacco were common. Upstairs, 28 of the 32 chairs and the Secretary's desk are authentic. Also remarkable is an 19th-century fresco of an eagle holding an olive branch signifying peace. Notice too, the plaster medallion on the ceiling — an unusual and elegant touch: it has an oval sunburst design honoring the thirteen original states with thirteen stars. The carpet is a reproduction of the original carpet made in the early 1790s by William Sprague of Philadelphia. Its designs are typical patriotic symbols with the centerpiece a chain of 13 state shields. In the corners are cornucopias echoing the wish for abundance in the new land

Directions: Located on the corner of Chestnut and 6th Streets.

The building is open year round, though hours vary by season. Visitors are admitted free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Ben Franklin's Grave - Philadelphia
Ben Franklin's Grave Benjamin Franklin Grave Review

I’m not sure what draws many of us to the grave sites of the famous. Perhaps it’s an affirmation to ourselves that they actually existed in flesh and blood. Whatever the reason I wanted to see the grave of this great American.

What is first noticeable is the coins thrown on his grave. Seems like people love to throw coins on his grave for good luck. Somehow I never thought of anyone buried in a grave as being particularly lucky, but hey, in the USA we’re supposed to value diversity. Of course he did coin the phrase “A penny saved is a penny earned"

Ironically, Ben Franklin himself had designed the black-bordered Pennsylvania Gazette which informed its readers of Franklin's death. He had been suffering from emphysema, and had a high temperature. His breath was labored, and he almost suffocated. After several days of gasping for air, the pain went away for a day, and he left his bed and asked that it be made properly so that he might have a dignified death. His daughter, Sally, told him that she hoped he would live many years more. "I hope not," he replied.

An abscess in Franklin's lung burst and he passed into a coma. He died on April 17, 1790, with his grandsons William Temple and Bennie at his side. Benjamin Franklin was 84 years old.

On April 21, the funeral procession started at the State House, with his coffin carried by the citizenry of Philadelphia. The clergy of Philadelphia lead the way, ironically since Franklin was not a regular churchgoer by any sense. He had their devotion since he had aided the churches by raising funds to help their construction.

Franklin was buried beside his wife Deborah, who had preceded him in death by 25 years, along with his son Francis Folger, who had died at age 4 from smallpox, was also in the family plot.

Directions: Christ Church Cemetery

Plot: Very near 5th and Arch Streets corner

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 3, 2005
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Historic Philadelphia actors - Philadelphia
Historic Philadelphia actors

As you walk around the old historic part of Philadelphia you probably will run into actors replicating the sounds and spirit of the 18th century. They could be playing the music of the day, participating in debates, or you might meet and talk politics with George Washington, Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross and others. You might even have the chance to join the Continental Army, or in our case watch a duel. The duel took place right in front of Betsy Ross’s house but they could popup anywhere so keep your eyes open.

Directions: Historic Philadelphia

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 2, 2005
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Delaware River Waterfront - Philadelphia
Delaware River Waterfront

We were just walking around and decided to take a quick peak at the Delaware River. After a short walk we found ourselves at the Waterfront.

Delaware River Waterfront is a family-friendly site with many activates, fireworks, museums and the Penn’s Landing festival grounds, as well as the singles-friendly home to a cache of flashy nightclubs, new shopping centers and high-rise apartment buildings. When we were there, a number of vendors had booths setup and an old navy clipper ship was on display. The clipper ship was used for training purposes and coincidently a booth was there to sign up for the Navy. In the area you can also visit the Battleship New Jersey, Independence Seaport Museum and the New Jersey State Aquarium

Directions: Walnut street east across the Footbridge

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jan 31, 2005
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Carpenters' Hall - Philadelphia
Carpenters' Hall Independence - Carpenter's Hall Review

Set back from Chestnut Street, Carpenters' Hall is one of the great treasures of historic Philadelphia. The Hall has been owned and operated by the Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia, the oldest trade guild in America, since 1770.

Located in the hub of colonial and capital Philadelphia, the Carpenters often found themselves in the center of political activity. This building housed the seven-week session of the First Continental Congress that met in 1774. Why, one might ask, did they not meet at the State House (Independence Hall) just a block away? The State House was perceived to be a hive of Tory sympathizers. In fact, some members of the Royalist press even suggested that the necks of the Revolutionary insurgents "might be inconveniently lengthened" if they did not desist in their activities.

Architecturally, the building is in the form of a Greek cross. The pedimented doorway with Doric detail is gracious and welcoming. Three Palladian windows line the second floor under which is stone balustrades. The belt course (band separating the floors) is unusual in that it is outlined in wood instead of brick.

Today Carpenters' Hall is kept open free to the public. Over 150,000 visitors from around the world come each year to see this beautiful and historic building. Inside the Hall eight Windsor chairs used by members of the First Continental Congress are on display. Also displayed are early carpentry tools. Don't miss an opportunity to see a remarkable confluence of history and architecture.

Directions: Carpenters' Court between Third and Fourth Streets on Chestnut Street

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 31, 2005
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Philadelphia Bourse - Philadelphia
Philadelphia Bourse Bourse Building Review

A Bourse is a stock exchange, and the idea of bringing one to Philadelphia in 1890 was by George E. Bartol who came up with the idea while visiting the great Bourse in Hamburg, Germany. Upon his return to the United States, Bartol gathered the most influential businessmen and merchants in the city to pool their resources and construct the Philadelphia Bourse.

The Philadelphia Bourse Building was completed in 1895 and was one of the first steel-framed buildings in the world to be constructed. It also became the first Bourse in the world to house simultaneously a stock exchange, maritime exchange, and grain-trading center.

Quotations from all markets of the world and the latest financial news were received by telegraph, and pneumatic tubes connected The Bourse directly with the United States Post Office. A trading clock signaled the end of every business day. In 1979 the Philadelphia Bourse Building was purchased and adapted as a retail and office complex.

Eat shop and Sea history this historic landmark has it all .The food court serves out every thing from steamy Cappuccino to the famous Philly Cheese Steak. The shops offer every thing from souvenirs to finest perform there is even a Movie Theater, its all part of this spectacular Victorian building located across the street from Liberty Bell.

Address: 111 S. Independence Mall East

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jan 31, 2005
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Independence Hall - Philadelphia
Independence Hall Independence - Carpenter's Hall Review

Construction of the Pennsylvania State House, which came to be known as Independence Hall, began in 1732, and wasn't finished until 1753. The building has undergone many restorations, with the latest in 1950 returning it to its 1776 appearance.

Independence Hall is, by every estimate, the birthplace of the United States. It was within its walls that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, the Articles of Confederation uniting the thirteen (13) colonies were ratified in 1781 and the Constitution setting out the nations's basic laws of the United States was debated, drafted and signed was adopted in 1787.

Visitors are admitted free of charge by tour only, with tours beginning in the East Wing. No reservations are accepted, and all tours are operated on a first come first served basis. All visitors need a free timed ticket for the Independence Hall tours from March through December. To speed things up a timed and dated ticket system is now in place for tours of Independence Hall.

There are two ways to obtain tickets:

1. On the day of your visit, you may get "walk-up" tickets at the Independence Visitor

2. Visitors can reserve tickets as early as twelve months before their visit through the reservation system operated by the Spherix Corporation in Cumberland, Maryland. Spherix operates the National Park Reservation System under contract to the National Park Service.

To contact Spherix for advance tickets:
Call 1-800-967-2283 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily (Eastern Time). You may also go to the web site: to reserve tickets. Individuals may reserve up to six tickets

Directions: Chestnut Street between 5th & 6th Streets

Other Contact: Open All Year 9 am - 5 pm


Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 30, 2005
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