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Sep 13 2016

Even Gardening Is Historic In Philadelphia

Horticultural Roots Date Back To 17th-Century Quakers

Greater Philadelphia’s horticultural history took root just after Quaker pioneer William Penn founded Pennsylvania. Inspired by the promise of the region’s religious tolerance, Quakers followed their spiritual leader to the newfound city. There, they sought to know God through nature. Their gardening tradition thrives still today. Greater Philadelphia claims North America’s oldest botanic garden (Bartram’s Garden), the oldest garden in its original plan in America (at Wyck), the site of its first Japanese garden (Shofuso) and other botanical beauties that wow researchers, home gardeners and nature lovers. With more than 30 gardens within 30 miles of the city—many of which began pre-Revolution—Philadelphia earns its heavyweight horticultural reputation as the cradle of horticulture and America’s garden capital.

Philadelphia Flora:

  • Awbury Arboretum: Germantown, the site of British encampment and an integral 1777 battle in American Revolutionary War, had become quiet farmland by 1852, when the Quaker Cope family purchased land there for a summer residence. The Copes named the parcel after their English hometown of Avebury and hired famed horticulturalist William Saunders to assist with the design of the estate in traditional English style. As Germantown continued to develop throughout the latter half of the 19th century, concern for the preservation of this unusual landscape led to the establishment of the 55-acre property as a free and open public arboretum in 1916 by several Cope family members. Visitors come for the meadows, wetlands, trails, beautiful trees, birds, greenhouses, community garden and farm, which produces food for area markets and hunger organizations. Free. 1 Awbury Road, (215) 849-2855,
  • Bartram’s Garden: Founded in 1728, North America’s oldest botanical garden belonged to Quaker John Bartram, Sr., botanist to King George III from 1765 until the Pennsylvanian’s death in 1777. Self-taught, Bartram collected and cultivated plant specimens from the colonies and England, selling seeds to Europeans and to Thomas Jefferson, for his Monticello home. Bartram’s knowledge attracted the friendship of fellow scientist Benjamin Franklin—with whom he co-founded the American Philosophical Society—and the attention of President George Washington, who, in 1787, described Bartram’s landscaping as “not laid off with much taste.” Modern-day visitors come to tour the 1730 Bartram House and its surrounding 45 acres, which feature a colonial-era greenhouse, a cider press, the oldest gingko tree in North America as well as a rare, circa 1777 Franklinia alatamaha, named for Franklin. Boats and kayaks are available to borrow on Saturdays from spring to late autumn. Free. (Guided tours available for a small fee.) 5400 Lindbergh Boulevard, (215) 729-5281,
  • Historic District Gardens: Before and during colonial times, gardens took the form of planted spaces and kitchen gardens alongside Philadelphia homes and full-fledged farms on the outskirts of the original city. Today, Philadelphia's Historic District offers pocket and large parks, including the 50-year-old green expanse that is Independence Mall. There are also five nearly hidden gardens, landscaped in the style of the day. The geometric 18th-Century Garden grew from a site that contained a larger garden from 1750 to 1783. An example of a formal English landscaping popular during the Revolutionary era, the current configuration features raised flowerbeds, rows of walkways and a pergola. The Daughters of the Revolution donated garden beds and planted 96 varieties of Old Roses in the Rose Garden, located on the site of a circa 1796 horse stable, to honor signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Magnolia Garden, inspired by George Washington’s fondness for the plant, contains 13 different magnolia trees that represent the 13 colonies. The Rush Garden was built on the site of the Benjamin Rush House and features a symmetric, 18th-century style garden of four beds surrounded by brick walls and wrought iron. Designed by Benjamin Franklin and updated in 1975 by Robert Venturi, Franklin Court has a pergola, formal raised flower and tree beds and an espalier of crabapple trees. Free. 18th-Century, Walnut Street between 3rd & 4th Streets; Rose, Locust Street between 4th & 5th Streets; Magnolia, Locust Street between 4th & 5th Streets; Rush, 3rd & Walnut Streets; Franklin Court, between Chestnut & Market Streets and 3rd & 4th Streets, (215) 965-2305,
  • Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania: The official Arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania consists of 92 rolling acres in Chestnut Hill. When Quaker siblings John and Lydia Morris purchased the site in 1887, they transformed a barren summer estate into a landscape dedicated to natural beauty and knowledge. In 1932, the family gifted the arboretum to its current owner, the University of Pennsylvania. Visitors spend the day luxuriating and learning in Morris’ gardens, meadows, sculptures, Swan Pond and Tree Adventure exhibit. 100 E. Northwestern Avenue, (215) 247-5777,
  • Shofuso Japanese House and Garden: Shofuso, site of the continent’s first Japanese garden as created for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, today includes a traditional 17th century-style house—a 1953 postwar gift from Japan to the U.S.—and a 1.2 acre Japanese pond and garden by landscape designer Tansai Sano. Wednesday through Sunday from April through October, guests explore pond side, feed koi, roam the house and tearoom (no shoes, yes socks) and partake in monthly tea ceremony. Lansdowne & Horticultural Drives, (215) 878-5097,
  • Wyck: This National Historic Landmark in Germantown comprises a house, garden and farm owned for nine generations (1690-1973) by the Quaker Wistar/Haines family. In 1777, during the Battle of Germantown, despite its owners’ pacifism, the household served as a field hospital for British troops. Today, the 2.5-acre estate remains vital to the urban neighborhood, via horticulture, educational programs, sustainability, innovation, a weekly farmers’ market and community festivals. The site includes the oldest garden in its original plan in America; perennial, vegetable and herb gardens; and a woodlot. William Strickland, architect of the Second Bank of the United States and the Merchants Exchange, redesigned the interior of the Wyck house, whose front parlor displays a chair that belonged to Benjamin Franklin. Open Thursday through Saturday, April through November. 6026 Germantown Avenue, (215) 848-1690,

Allure Outside The City:

  • Chanticleer: April through October, this pleasure garden inspires artists, home gardeners—and seekers of relaxation. The former summer home of the Rosengarten family, 35-acre Chanticleer, opened to the public in 1993 and is known for imaginative plantings. The evolving, whimsical landscape features 5,000 plants, themed gardens, two original buildings, a creek and pond and a nearly mile-long trail. Painters work in the garden Wednesdays through Fridays. 786 Church Road, Wayne, (610) 687-4163,
  • Longwood Gardens: Quaker George Pierce purchased 402 rolling acres in the Brandywine Valley to farm in 1700. A century later, Pierce’s great-grandsons turned the parcel into an arboretum that, in the mid-1800s, became a destination for Americans embracing the get-outdoors trend. By 1906, the refuge had fallen into disrepair, and businessman philanthropist Pierre S. du Pont came to its rescue. Drawing inspiration from his visits to Italian and French gardens and world’s fairs, du Pont began the transformation of his “Longwood” into an international destination. The vast, living masterpiece is at the forefront of horticultural entertainment, using technology and du Pont’s beloved fountains and incorporating woodlands, meadows, conservatories, special events and performances that draw people from all over the world. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000,
  • Tyler Arboretum: Deeded by William Penn to Thomas Minshall in 1681, Tyler has transformed from wilderness to working farm to public garden over eight generations. The 650-acre site includes 17 miles of hiking trails, spectacular plant collections, beautiful gardens—including 13 acres of rhododendrons and azaleas—in addition to woodlands, wetlands, meadows, historic buildings and tree houses that are open in season. The National Audubon Society recognizes Tyler as an IBA (Important Bird Area). 515 Painter Road, Media, (610) 566-9134,
  • Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College: Those strolling through the Scott Arboretum may hear, “I could do that,” and that’s the point. The gardens of the Quaker-founded liberal arts college are purposely delightful, accessible and educational. Regional gardeners who visit observe ways to cultivate mostly native species. Established in 1929, Scott honors Arthur Hoyt Scott of the class of 1895 and has helped its surrounding 350-acre college on lists of most beautiful campuses, time and time again. Garden lovers can take self-guided or regularly scheduled guided tours or simply wander at their leisure through the rose garden, holly collection, woodlands and pinetum (arboretum for conifers). Free. 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, (610) 328‐8025,

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 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 22 2016

New Reasons To Visit Historic Philadelphia This Summer

Philadelphia’s Oldest Neighborhood Features New Summer Exhibitions, Activities & Events

Philadelphia’s historic district—now called Historic Philadelphia—simmers with summer excitement as the city’s oldest neighborhood debuts new activities and exhibitions. Visitors launch their very own presidential campaigns in Headed to the White House at the National Constitution Center, and the Independence Seaport Museum mischievously observes sailors’ lives from the 20th century through today. Along popular Penn’s Landing, outdoor hangouts Summerfest and Spruce Street Harbor Park promise more fun than ever, and Fourth of July bash Wawa Welcome America injects fresh components to a good old-fashioned block party.

A two-day Historic Philadelphia Pass makes the must-dos even easier—and more affordable. The pass,

May 20 2016

Nighttime Is The Right Time To Return To Philadelphia's Historic District

Music, Dancing, Tours & More Add Modern Twists To The Original City After Dark

As day turns to dusk and museums and landmarks close for the night, Philadelphia's Historic District is just gearing up for a night of fun. Theaters, play places and ghost tours keep youngsters amused until pajama time, while beer gardens, dance clubs and live music venues entertain the over-21 crowd well into the wee hours.

Here’s how the Historic District buzzes with activity long after the clock strikes 5 p.m.:

Family Fun:
End-of-day play at Franklin Square includes an award-winning playground, eclectic carousel and 18-hole mini-golf course with scale versions of iconic Philadelphia landmarks (open until 9 or 10

May 18 2016

Celebrate A Red, White And Blue July 4th In Philadelphia

Four Concerts, Three Fireworks Extravaganzas, Hamilton’s Leslie Odom, Jr. and More Bring the Razzle-Dazzle to Wawa Welcome America!

Birthdays deserve big celebrations—and nobody will celebrate America’s 240th better than Philadelphia, the city where it all began. June 27 through July 4, 2016, Wawa Welcome America! will rock the town with red, white and blue festivities that culminate in a four-day weekend of free concerts featuring Tony-nominated Leslie Odom, Jr. of Broadway’s monster hit Hamilton, Bryshere Gray, also known as Yazz, of TV’s blockbuster Empire and myriad more stars of all stripes. The eight-day celebration also includes three dazzling fireworks shows, the Historic Philadelphia Block Party, parades, patriotic ceremonies, not to mention chance encounters with our Founding Fathers

May 10 2016

Iconic Landmarks Recount Philadelphia's Political History

Independence Hall, Carpenter’s Hall & Other Locations Provide The Backdrop For The 2016 Democratic National Convention

When delegates gather in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention in summer 2016, all eyes will be on the nation’s birthplace. Having hosted numerous political conventions, including the 2000 Republican gathering and the 1948 conventions for all three parties (Democratic, Republican and Progressive), Philadelphia is accustomed to being in the political spotlight. It was here where disgruntled colonists created a new form of government. Today, many of the places where those meetings, debates and activities took place still stand in Historic Philadelphia, an area that spans from the Delaware River Waterfront to 7th Street and from Vine to Lombard Streets.

Apr 25 2016

40+ Of Philadelphia's Best Vantage Points

Filled with sensational skyline views, beautiful vistas and stunning street scenes, Philadelphia is easy on the eyes—and the lenses. Photographers and videographers covering Philadelphia for a quick news story, a full-length feature or just because have no shortage of vantage points to choose from in this city between two rivers—the Delaware on the east and the Schuylkill on the west. Here are more than 40 VISIT PHILADELPHIA-approved vantage points and insider tips for capturing just the right angle at each of them.

*Also good for man-on-the-street interviews

Sensational Skylines:
In Center City:

  1. One Liberty Observation Deck: New attraction, 883 feet
Feb 21 2017

New Museum Of The American Revolution To Open In Philadelphia, The Headquarters Of The Revolution

Sites Throughout The Region Recount America’s Fight For Independence

Long before the first musket shot was fired in Lexington in 1775, the seeds of the American Revolution were taking root in Philadelphia as colonists declared their independence and began preparing for war. With the April 19, 2017 opening of the Museum of the American Revolution, visitors will discover the complex and sometimes painful path to independence—a story that’s told both within the museum’s walls and at sites and attractions scattered throughout Philadelphia, the headquarters of the Revolution, and its surrounding countryside.
For visitors eager to delve into this tumultuous time in history, the Museum of the American Revolution—located in

Feb 16 2017

Alexander Hamilton's Legacy Remains Strong In Philadelphia's Historic District

Visitors Can Go Beyond Broadway & Follow Hamilton’s Philadelphia Footsteps

Freedom fighter, statesman, financial genius, adulterer. Fans of the blockbuster hit Hamilton know some of the story of Alexander Hamilton’s life, but there is plenty more to discover in Philadelphia’s Historic District. The new Museum of the American Revolution, opening on April 19, 2017, will offer a glimpse into the Hamilton-Washington bro-mance. A tale debuting this summer from the Once Upon A Nation storytellers will get to the root of the fatal Hamilton-Burr duel. And in Independence Hall, National Park Service rangers often regale visitors with accounts of heated debates Hamilton engaged in about the U.S. Constitution. Just beyond the