Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Jan 25 2017

African-American History Thrives in Philadelphia

The Unique, Compelling Story Of Early African-Americans, As Told Throughout Philadelphia

Just as U.S. history is African-American history, Philadelphia history is African-American history. The nation’s birthplace and first World Heritage City is home to the founding church of the African Methodist Episcopal denomination (201-year-old Mother Bethel A.M.E.) and the country’s first major museum devoted to black American history (African American Museum in Philadelphia). Landmarks in Philadelphia’s Historic District, from the Liberty Bell to street-side Historical Markers, tell of the successes, struggles and contributions of African-Americans through the centuries. Beyond the original city, Philadelphia’s vibrant neighborhoods offer glimpses into the pasts of African-American whose impacts live on today (Marian Anderson Residence, Paul Robeson House).

These Philadelphia museums, landmarks, churches and other sites are rich in African-American history.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia, founded in 1976, is the first institution built by a major U.S. city to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage and culture of African-Americans. Now celebrating its 40th year, the museum takes a fresh, bold look at the roles of African-Americans in the founding of the nation through the core exhibit Audacious Freedom. Other exhibitions and programs reveal the history, stories and cultures of those of African descent throughout the African diaspora. 701 Arch Street, (215) 574-0380,
At Independence Seaport Museum, Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River uses the city’s eastern river to uncover the African experience in Philadelphia, including enslavement, emancipation, Jim Crow and Civil Rights. Guest curated by Dr. Tukufu Zuberi, a University of Pennsylvania professor, the exhibit tells a 300-year-old story that unfolds through artifacts from the museum’s own collection and compelling first-person accounts. Penn’s Landing, 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655,
The National Constitution Center houses an extremely rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The order that declared enslaved persons in rebellious areas of the South free is permanently on display in the Civil War alcove, which examines the turning-point year of 1863. Through self-guided tours and interactive programs, the museum also illustrates the contributions of notable African-Americans; delves into pivotal Supreme Court cases such as Dred Scott v. Sanford and Brown v. Board of Education; and explores the amendments that established rights for all citizens. A more recent highlight: the original, signed copy of Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech, delivered onsite during his 2008 presidential campaign. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700,
The National Liberty Museum presents the enduring story of liberty, both in history and today. The Heroes From Around the World gallery spotlights notable people from all walks of life and time periods who protected and advanced freedom—including well-known figures such as Nelson Mandela and lesser-known people like Gail Gibson, a New Orleans nurse whose bravery helped save lives during Hurricane Katrina. The Live Like A Hero gallery showcases teachers, students, police officers, firefighters and other ordinary citizens who use their voices and talents to advocate for positive change, and the gallery includes a special section on students’ ideas about freedom after watching the film Selma. 321 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-2800,

Historic Sites & Attractions:

  • Throughout Philadelphia—and the entire state, in fact—Historical Markers capture the stories of people, places and events that shaped our country. The blue signs act as mini-history lessons, including: First Protest Against Slavery (5109 Germantown Avenue), where a group of German Quakers wrote a protest against slavery in 1688; Free African Society (6th & Lombard Streets), an organization that fostered identity, leadership and unity among black people; James Forten (336 Lombard Street), a wealthy sailmaker who employed multi-racial craftsmen and championed reform causes; Octavius V. Catto (812 South Street), an African-American educator, Union army major and political organizer who was assassinated in 1871 while urging African-Americans to vote; Pennsylvania Abolition Society (Front Street between Walnut & Chestnut Streets), the first American abolition society; Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society (5th & Arch Streets), organized by Quaker abolitionist Lucretia Mott; W. E. B. Du Bois (6th & Rodman Streets), an activist, author and co-founder of the NAACP; and William Still (244 S. 12th Street), an Underground Railroad agent.
  • The Johnson House Historic Site, part of the Colonial Germantown Historic District, attained National Historic Landmark recognition for its role in the Underground Railroad. Tours offer visitors an opportunity to learn about the injustices of slavery and the people who risked their lives for others’ freedom. 6306 Germantown Avenue, (215) 438-1768,
  • Inside the Liberty Bell Center, visitors uncover the connection between the Liberty Bell and African-American history. Videos and interactive displays explain how the abolitionist movement adopted the icon of freedom based on the inscribed quote from Leviticus—“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof”—as a symbol of its anti-slavery activities. Beginning in the late 1800s, the Liberty Bell traveled around the country to expositions to help heal the divisions of the Civil War. It reminded Americans of earlier days when they worked together for independence. 5th & Market Streets, (215) 965-2305,
  • An understated façade houses the three-story home of opera singer, humanitarian and civil rights icon Marian Anderson. The Marian Anderson Residence Museum, listed National Register of Historic Places, reveals the life and work of the first African-American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. People can tour the house every day except Sunday. 762 S. Martin Street, (215) 779-4219,
  • Located in West Philadelphia, the Paul Robeson House served as the residence for the esteemed human rights activist, scholar, attorney, actor, football player and singer during the last decade of his life. Tours give visitors a chance to hear songs he recorded, learn about Robeson’s politics and discover his life of accomplishments—including his family’s 18th-century roots in Philadelphia. 4951 Walnut Street, (215) 747-4675,
  • At The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation, visitors see structural fragments of the home where Presidents Washington and Adams lived during their terms and where the first president kept nine enslaved Africans. The open-air Independence National Historical Park site, located just steps from the Liberty Bell Center, invites people to learn about the events that transpired through illustrated glass panels and video re-enactments, and then partake in silent reflection. 6th & Market Streets, (215) 965-2305,
  • People of all ages can perch on free Once Upon A Nation’s Storytelling Benches at 13 locations around Philadelphia’s Historic District. Professional storytellers regale their audiences with tales of the well-known and not-so-well-known people who shaped America’s history. Benches are open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Maps of the bench locations are available at the Independence Visitor Center. 6th & Market Streets, (215) 629-4026,


  • With Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross and George Washington among its worshippers, Christ Church made history by ordaining Absalom Jones as the country’s first African-American priest (Episcopalian), baptizing 25% of the free and enslaved African-Americans in Philadelphia over a 20-year period and helping to establish a school to educate slaves. Tours of the National Park Service-affiliated church, a National Historic Landmark, occur throughout the day. 20 N. American Street, (215) 922-1695,
  • Founded by Bishop Richard Allen with the first church building dedicated in 1794, Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church sits on the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African-Americans, and is the “Mother” church of the nation’s first black denomination. Today, Mother Bethel comprises three institutions under one roof: church, museum and archive. The congregation worships weekly. The museum houses the tomb of Bishop Richard Allen and artifacts dating back to the 1600s. Reservations encouraged for the daily museum tour. 419 S. 6th Street, (215) 925-0616,
  • Prior to the establishment of local African-American churches, St. George’s United Methodist Church welcomed black worshippers and licensed Richard Allen and Absalom Jones as the first African-American Methodist lay preachers. A dispute over segregated seating policies led to a walkout and the creation of African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas and Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church. St. George’s continues to work on amends for previous racial injustices. Portraits, items of worship, manuscripts and artifacts from the church’s early years are on display in the original building, classroom and museum, open Tuesday through Friday, with Saturday tours by appointment and Sunday services. 235 N. 4th Street, (215) 925-7788,

Art & Theater:

  • Mural Arts Philadelphia has an African American Iconic Images Collection Trolley Tour in its repertoire, available for private bookings. During the two-hour experience, visitors discover the people and stories depicted on the larger-than-life artworks that adorn the city’s buildings and walls. (215) 925-3633,
  • The Clef Club formed in 1966 through the efforts of Philadelphia’s African-American musicians union, Union Local No. 274 of the American Federation of Musicians. With notable members including John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie, the social club played a significant role in the advancement of jazz in Philadelphia and the world. In 1978, it expanded its mission to include jazz performance, instruction and preservation, becoming the nation’s first facility constructed specifically as a jazz institution. Today, people enjoy concerts in the 240-seat performance space. 738 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-9912,
  • As one of the nation’s most honored black professional theater companies, New Freedom Theatre has staged productions from celebrated African-American playwrights such as James Baldwin, Ossie Davis, Charles Fuller, Ntozake Shange, August Wilson and Leroi Jones. Its alumni include Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men. 1346 N. Broad Street, (888) 802-8998,
  • Built in 1919, the Royal Theater served the city’s African-American community by bringing performers such as Cab Calloway, Pearl Baily and Billie Holiday to Philadelphia. Listed in the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, it also screened double features and films starring African-American actors, including Philadelphia’s Paul Robeson. Though it closed in 1970 and is currently slated to be developed into residences, its façade—painted with a vibrant mural showcasing performers Fats Waller and Bessie Smith—celebrates its heyday. 1524 South Street


  • In 1927, African-American Pennsylvania legislator Samuel Beecher Hart proposed a memorial that became All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors. Sculptor J. Otto Schweizer depicted African-American officers and enlisted men surrounded by American eagles and the allegorical figure of Justice, clutching symbols of Honor and Reward. Initially installed in Fairmount Park, it later found its home near Logan Circle on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. 20th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway
  • Sculptor Stephen Layne spent eight months creating the clay model for the Smokin’ Joe Frazier memorial statue. He wanted to perfectly capture the moment when the Philly native dropped Muhammed Ali with a left hook in 15th round of “The Fight of the Century.” The 11-foot-tall, 1,800-pound bronze sculpture stands in the heart of South Philadelphia’s sports area outside XFINITY Live! 1100 Pattison Avenue

African-American Facts About Philadelphia:

  • Julian Abele became the first African-American architect to design a major museum in the United States when he laid plans for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The first African-American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture, Abele also designed the Free Library of Philadelphia.
  • Known as the “Black Capital of Anti-Slavery” in the 1800s, Philadelphia was a hub for groups such as the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society and the Pennsylvania Underground Railroad, whose president and leaders resided in the city.
  • W. E. B. Du Bois’ The Philadelphia Negro serves as sociological survey of the African-Americans living in the city’s Seventh Ward. The mural Mapping Courage, painted on the firehouse at 601 South Street, memorializes Du Bois’ book, the Seventh Ward and the local Engine #11 fire station, which was founded in 1871 and served as the city’s unofficial African-American firehouse until the fire department desegregated in 1952.
  • Established in 1884, The Philadelphia Tribune holds the distinction as the country’s oldest daily newspaper serving the African-American community.
  • With 13,000 titles and 1,000 graphics and illustrations, The Library Company of Philadelphia’s African Americana Collection contains one of the most comprehensive collections by and about African-Americans. Books, pamphlets, newspapers and periodicals ranging from the mid-16th to early 20th centuries provide in-depth documentation of African-American life in the country over the course of 400 years. 1314 Locust Street, (215) 546-3181,
  • Albert C. Barnes possessed foresight as one of the first people in America to consider African objects as art. The pieces he collected between 1922 and 1924 became a central theme in the collection at the Barnes Foundation, and he displayed the pieces along with works by Renoir and Cézanne. A man known for his belief in social justice through education, he was both interested and involved in the Harlem Renaissance. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7200,

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

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Related Releases

Jun 16 2017

30 Top Philadelphia Region Attractions

Fact Sheet

* Note: Most attractions were listed in the Philadelphia Business Journal Book of Lists 2016. Those that were not are marked with an asterisk.

Historical Sites & Attractions:
1. African American Museum in Philadelphia* – Founded in 1976, the museum is the first institution built by a major U.S. city to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage and culture of African-Americans. The museum takes a fresh and bold look at the stories of African-Americans and their role in the founding of the nation through the core exhibit Audacious Freedom. Other exhibits and programs explore the history, stories and

May 10 2017

What's In Old City And Along The Delaware River Waterfront?

Two Historic District Neighborhoods Offer Restaurants, Art Galleries, Nightlife, Shopping—And History

Located just next to Independence Mall, where the country’s Founding Fathers declared liberty and built a free nation, Old City, part of Philadelphia’s Historic District, boasts charming cobblestone streets and plenty of 18th-century charm—along with an independent streak that’s evident in everything from its owner-operated shops to its edgy art scene.

Its proximity to the Liberty Bell, Penn’s Landing and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge make Old City a favorite for out-of-towners as much as for the residents who call it home. People love the neighborhood for its fashionable boutiques, great restaurants, eclectic galleries, boundary-pushing theaters and vibrant nightlife.

May 1 2017

The Greater Philadelphia Region: Fast Facts


There are 2.5 million people residing in the five-county region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties) and more than 1.5 million in Philadelphia, making it the second-largest city on the East Coast and the sixth-largest city in the country.


Philadelphia is a two-hour drive from New York City, two-and-a-half hours from Washington, DC and 45 minutes from Atlantic City, with convenient access to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I-76, I-95 and the New Jersey Turnpike. One-quarter of the U.S. population lives within a five-hour drive of Center City Philadelphia.

The city is a 90-minute flight or a one-day drive

Apr 24 2017

Philly Tours Explore History, Art, Food, Bridges & the Supernatural

Also Explore The Region By Foot, Trolley, Horse Or Smartphone

Visitors to Philadelphia can choose from an assortment of options to explore the region, including those of the air, automotive, audio, culinary, self-guided and water-based varieties. And the sightseeing fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Those who come out at night can join tours that feature behind-the-scenes action and, if so desired, spirits from beyond. Here’s a selection of tours available throughout the region:

History Lessons By Day & Night:

  • Bow Tie Tours – Learning about Philadelphia’s—and America’s—history through the true tales of real-life characters who walked the city’s streets is the secret to the success of
Apr 21 2017

New–Lots New–This Summer In Philadelphia

Philly Debuts And News Include The Museum Of The American Revolution, Longwood Gardens’ Fountains, An Andrew Wyeth Retrospective, Hall & Oates Festival, So Much More

Philadelphia’s summer is jam-packed with things to do, thanks to new attractions, limited-time displays, major exhibitions and the seasonal happenings that locals and visitors cherish. Highlights: just-opened Museum of the American Revolution and the nation’s most playful LEGOLAND® Discovery Center, an indoor snow playground called Winter: Exclusively at Philadelphia Zoo, a high-tech, $19 million renovation of Longwood Gardens’ main fountains and a concert and festival curated and headlined by Philly’s own Hall & Oates.

Just Opened:

  • LEGOLAND® Discovery Center – Millions of LEGO bricks build the foundation for this creative and fun destination. Perfect for ages 3
Jul 8 2016

16 Things To Know: African-American Philadelphia

From Colonial Through Modern Days In The City Of Brotherly Love & Sisterly Affection

Strength In Numbers:

  1. The 2010 U.S. Census reported 661,839—that’s 43.37%—of Philadelphians are African-American, the city’s second largest ethnic demographic. More recent estimates show this population has increased by approximately 1% in the past six years.
  2. The largest concentration—82%—of African-American Philadelphians live in North Philadelphia west of Germantown Avenue, Point Breeze in South Philadelphia, West Philadelphia and in parts of Southwest Philadelphia.
  3. Important African-American business corridors include 52nd Street between Walnut and
    Arch Streets and Baltimore Avenue between 40th and 52nd Streets, both in West Philadelphia; and Stenton Avenue between Broad Street and Walnut Lane and Ogontz
Jun 16 2016

Fact Sheet: 31 Top Philadelphia Region Attractions

* Note: Most attractions were listed in the Philadelphia Business Journal Book of Lists 2015. Those that were not are marked with an asterisk.

Historical Sites & Attractions:

  1. The African American Museum in Philadelphia*, founded in 1976, is the first institution built by a major U.S. city to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage and culture of African-Americans. The museum takes a fresh and bold look at the stories of African-Americans and their role in the founding of the nation through the core exhibit Audacious Freedom. Other exhibits and programs explore the history, stories and cultures of those of African
May 23 2016

Fact Sheet: Historic Philadelphia Trail

The birthplace of the nation is rich in history—and plenty of it. Philadelphia's Historic District Trail guides visitors to 24 essential sites in the area, which spans from the Delaware River to 7th Street and from Vine to Lombard Streets. This is the original city. It boasts serious historical cred, but it’s also home to buzzed-about restaurants and beer gardens, owner-operated boutiques and pushing-the boundaries art galleries.

Here is the 24-stop essential guide, available at

  1. Visitors can head to the Independence Visitor Center to pick up their timed tickets to Independence Hall and get expert Philly tips.
May 19 2016

Historic Philadelphia Timeline, 1681 To 1801


  • King Charles II grants William Penn the Charter of Pennsylvania, which includes an immense tract of land as settlement of a debt owed to Penn’s father, Admiral William Penn. The King names the colony Pennsylvania in honor of Admiral Penn. William Penn begins plans for his “holy experiment” and hopes it will be the “seed of a nation.” His Commonwealth will assure religious tolerance, fair trials, freedom of speech and enlightened laws.


  • William Penn leaves England, sets sail across the Atlantic and arrives in Philadelphia, his “City of Brotherly Love.” Find more information at the Philadelphia History Museum,
Mar 6 2017

Aspiring Citizens Get Study Help With New Americans Trail

Candidates For Citizenship Can Boost Their Knowledge In The Places Where It All Happened

Prepping for the U.S. citizenship test is no small task, but Philadelphia’s self-guided New Americans Tour makes learning easier—and a whole lot more fun. The city contains approximately half the answers to the 100-question citizenship test study. This means aspiring citizens and others students of U.S. history can glean the knowledge they seek simply by paying visits to Philly’s historic sites and attractions. Best place to start: the Historic District, the original city—and a very pedestrian-friendly one at that. The trail is available at

The Trail:
Here’s a look at the 16 tour spots:

  1. Betsy Ross House,