Independence National Historic Park & Philadelphia
When the American Revolution was fomenting throughout the thirteen colonies, it was within the city limits of Philadelphia that the seeds of liberty were sown.  As the fathers of our country debated within the rooms of Independence Hall such items as the Declaration of Independence before the document was put in place on July 4, 1776, or the selection of a General to lead the Continental Army, George Washington, or in the days after the war had been won, the Constitution that would provide the framework of laws to govern the United States of America for over two hundred years, the walls of the buildings within Independence National Historic Park held each whisper from British ears.

And even though the city of Philadelphia has grown around the historical area in many modern ways, for a sixteen block area or more, particularly in the center of the site, you can let your imagination challenge you back to those times in the late 1700's when the decision to remain a colony, even without representation, or independence and thus revolution, a loose confederation of states or a stronger federal form of government, and what would go into the Bill or Rights were discussed in every corner between the fathers of our nation; George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, and many more.   There are dozens of historic buildings intact, most which can be visited for free.

Historic Buildings Within Independence National Park

    * Independence Hall (Free ticket required)     * Old City Hall
    * Congress Hall     * Philosophical Hall
    * Second Bank of the United States     * St. Joseph's Church
    * Deshler Morris House    * Library Hall
    * Franklin Court     * Carpenters' Hall
    * New Hall    * Pemberton House
    * Elfreth's Alley    * Free Quaker Meeting House
    * Declaration House    * Market Street Houses
    * Bishop White House    * Todd House
    * 1st Bank of the United States    * City Tavern
    * Philadelphia Exchange
    * Christ Church & Christ Church Burial Ground (Small fee)

Other Buildings Within Independence National Park

* Independence Visitor Center
    * Liberty Bell Center
    * National Constitution Center (Fee required)
    * Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church National Historic Site

Other Nearby Attractions

   * United States Mint
    * Betsy Ross House
    * Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site
    * Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial


Betsy Ross Sewing the First Flag

Things You Should Not Miss

Even though, after new security procedures have been put into place after September 11, the procedure to visit these areas can be time consuming, take the time and put up with the hassle to line up at the security pavilion and see both the Liberty Bell and take the guided Independence Hall tour.  The tour itself, staffed by the well informed rangers of Independence National Historic Park, takes you into the chambers of Independence Hall, where you will see the actual location of all this Declaration of Independence and Constitutional history.  Make sure to get your ticket for the tour at the new Visitor's Center.  It is timed and there are only a couple hundred available per fifteen minute time block.  On a crowded day, these tickets, which are free, will be gone by early afternoon, even for a late tour time.

Independence Hall ticket

    * The Lower Park Area.  With the new Visitor Center placed north of Independence Hall on the mall, the spectacular history of old Philadelphia beyond the secure area may get a short stick.  However, this is an area where many of the historic buildings sit, reaching down, at the point of City Tavern, almost to the Delaware River.  If you walk here, not only will you get a better sense of what the city was like in 1776, but there are many places to rest and relax among mature trees.  Although it is likely an unintended consequence of moving the center of gravity far from these buildings, don't let yourself be oriented solely around the new Visitor Center and Independence Hall area.

    * The Freedom's Rising Show in the National Constitution Center.  This new multimedia presentation with a live actor, projected images on the walls and floor within the tiered circular Kimmel Theater is on the opposite end of the above historic buildings and walks, but it serves as a good reminder of the chronology of the events surrounding the making of the constitution, plus it satisfies the technological, video generation with a media friendly exhibit.  Tickets for this show can be bought at the Constitution Center (north end of the mall, picture below) or at the Independence Visitor Center.

National Constitution Center

What is There Now

Independence National History Park
  * The Independence National Historic Park Visitor Center, new within the last few years, including two films, exhibits, visitor services for the park and other Philadelphia attractions, a gift shop, and ticketing procedures for the Independence Hall tour and Constitution Center.  It is also the drop off point for many of the Philadelphia based tours, including the Ducks, the Trolley Tour, and the Double Decker bus tours.
    * The new Liberty Bell Pavilion.
  This now includes a long, bricked corridor with exhibits and films on the history of the Liberty Bell, as well as the Liberty Bell itself, sited within the alcove of a window that overlooks Independence Hall.  The Liberty Bell Pavilion is free, but is located within the secure zone and will require entrance through the airport style metal detector system.
    * The National Constitution Center.
  This large new structure not only includes the multimedia presentation described above, but a multitude of exhibits on the Constitution, many hands on, and Signer's Hall, with life size bronze replicas of the original signers.  There are also, at certain times of the year, additional exhibits on a variety of subjects.  Fee required.
    * All those many historic buildings, all with their individual stories.

Who Visits What at Independence?

Section     2010 Visitors
318 Market Street     14,502
Carpenters Hall     134,878    
Christ Church     162,233    
City Tavern     112,444    
Congress Hall     219,678    
Declaration House     16,310
Descher-Morris House     1,843
Edgar Allen Poe House     15,321
Franklin Court     186,422    
Free Quaker Meeting House     42,659
Gloria Dei Church     16,258
Independence Hall     694,552    
Independence Living History Center     0
Independence Park Institute     2,008
Independence Visitor Center     2,440,295    
Kosciuszko House     2,888
Liberty Bell Center     2,271,938    
National Constitution Center     804,551
New Hall Military Museum     31,627
Old City Hall     127,621    
Printing Office     94,484        
Second Bank     94,463
Special Programs     2,486
Special Events     57,757
Todd House    2.242
Bishop White House     2,242
West Wing     330,152    

Source: Independence National Historical Park

And remember, Philadelphia and its history are not confined to the city limits.  Thirty minutes west of town sits Valley Forge, the winter camhere Washington's men were housed during one of the harsh winters of the American revolution.  And a little known fort whose battle in November of 1777 gave Washington's troops the time to gather at Valley Forge, Fort Mifflin.  Fort Mifflin sits on the Delaware River just south of the city.

Independence and Philadelphia Links

Independence National Historic Park
Independence Visitor Center
Gloria Dei (Old Swedes) Church National Historic Site
Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial

Nearby Attractions

National Constitution Center
Greater Philadelphia Tourism & Marketing Corp.
Experience Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Convention & Visitor's Bureau

Philadelphia Then and Now

Independence Hall engraving

Philadelphia Then

Independence Hall
Known as the Pennsylvania State House prior to independence, Independence Hall (engraving of building above) became the cradle of liberty.  Beginning in 1753, the Liberty Bell rang within its steeple.  In May 1775, this building housed the Second Continental Congress, which debated how to wage war against Britain, but was not yet convinced about independence from the crown.  It was not until June 1776 that the idea of becoming a free nation rippled through the hall, followed up only one month later by the acceptance of the Declaration of Independence.  And after years of a loose confederation of states and the problem inherent in that arrangement, the Constitution was hammered out here in 1787.

Carpenter's Hall
Inside this building built by the Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia in the early 1770's, the first Continental Congress gathered to respond to the Intolerable Acts that had been thrust upon the colonies by British Parliament. Their response, in the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, saw no concessions from Great Britain and King George III, leading to the the battles of Lexington and Concord.

Philadelphia Now

Independence Hall

Independence Hall
The signature building of the formation of our nation, Independence Hall may no longer hold the Liberty Bell within its steeple (picture left above, now housed in a new pavilion just north of Independence Hall) and requires passing through a metal detector after 9.11 security arrangements, but it still remains the most tangible structure in which to hear about the history of the period from 1774 to 1800.  The rooms within the Independence Hall structures hosted Constitutional conventions, the first sessions of the Supreme Court, as well serving as the temporary capital of the United States with the first meetings of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.  Tickets for the free guided tours of Independence Hall must be gotten at the Independent Visitors Center two blocks north of the regulated area.  Tickets can be difficult to get in the afternoon, so arrive early and secure your passes for later in the day.

Carpenter's Hall
This hall, now in the middle of the most sedate section of the Independence National Historic Park, is open to park visitors during regular hours for independent tours.

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Visitor Statistics

Independence National Historic Park
#18 Most Visited
National Park Unit 3,553,070 Visitors

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
#357 Most Visited
5,884 Visitors

Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial
#365 Most Visited
1,682 Visitors

Benjamin Franklin

Park Size

Independence National Historic Park
34.36 acres (Federal)
44.80 acres (Total)

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site
0.52 acres

Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial
0.02 acres

Source: NPS, 2013 Visitor Statistics; Visitor Rank among 369 units.

President George Washington picture

Other Philadelphia Area Historic Attractions

Academy of Natural Sciences

African American Museum

American Swedish Historical Museum

Atwater Kent Museum, the Philadelphia History Museum

Civil War Library & Museum

Eastern State Penitentiary

Fairmount Park

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Franklin Institute Science Museum

Independence Seaport Museum

Penn's Landing

Fort Mifflin


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