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Releases: Expanded View

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 visitphilly.com/historic:

  1. Visitors can head to the Independence Visitor Center to pick up their timed tickets to Independence Hall and get expert Philly tips. 6th & Market Streets, (800) 537-7676, phlvisitorcenter.com
  2. The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation tells the stories of Hercules, Oney Judge and the other enslaved people who served George and Martha Washington. The open-air site is open until 10 p.m. 6th & Market Streets, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
  3. It doesn’t make a sound, but its message rings loud and clear: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” The inscription on the cracked but mighty Liberty Bell is one reason it became a symbol to abolitionists, suffragists and other freedom-seekers around the world. 6th & Market Streets, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
  4. Independence Hall is where it all happened. Where the upstart colonies declared independence and where representatives from a young nation framed its Constitution. Check out the original copy of the U.S. Constitution in the adjacent West Wing. 6th & Chestnut Streets, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
  5. It’s all about science, art and history, so it’s no surprise that the American Philosophical Society (APS) was another of Ben Franklin’s ideas. Exhibitions come from APS’s collection of nearly 14 million early American manuscripts, maps, Native American languages, scientific instruments and more. 104 S. 5th Street, (215) 440-3400, amphilsoc.org
  6. The National Museum of American Jewish History brings to life the 360-year history of Jews in America. Among the treasures in the free first-floor gallery are Einstein’s pipe and Spielberg’s first camera. 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811, nmajh.org
  7. Coming soon! In 2017, the Museum of the American Revolution opens with immersive galleries, dynamic theaters and recreated environments that bring to life the events, people and ideals of the founding of the United States. 3rd & Chestnut Streets, (215) 253-6731, amrevmuseum.org
  8. Inventor. Statesman. Postmaster. Printer. The story of the life and accomplishments of America’s favorite Founding Father are revealed at Franklin Court, which includes a museum, printing office and post office that still marks mail with a “B. Free Franklin” hand-stamped postmark. 322 Market Street, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
  9. The Second Bank of the United States paints a picture of America’s roots. The walls are lined with portraits of the nation’s earliest movers and shakers. Just steps away is the First Bank, which although closed to the public, boasts a photo-worthy exterior. 420 Chestnut Street, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
  10. Spying. Upheaval. Revolution. Those feisty colonists fanned the flames of independence during the First Continental Congress at Carpenters’ Hall. 320 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-0167, carpentershall.org
  11. Ahoy, matey. The Independence Seaport Museum is the place for boat-loving visitors. The Cruiser Olympia and World War II submarine Becuna are also part of the experience.
    Columbus Boulevard at Walnut Street, (215) 413-8655, phillyseaport.org
  12. Whatever the season, there’s always something fun going on at Penn’s Landing—situated along the Delaware River, where founder William Penn first arrived in Philadelphia. Think festivals, concerts, free movies, beer gardens, yoga, roller skating and ice skating. Columbus Boulevard between Chestnut & Spruce Streets, (215) 922-2386, delawareriverwaterfront.com
  13. Christ Church is nicknamed “America’s Church” for good reason. George Washington, Betsy Ross, Ben Franklin and John Adams worshipped here, and Reverend Absalom Jones was ordained here. Nearby is the who’s who burial ground of the Colonial era. Tossing a penny on Franklin’s grave is a favorite tradition. Church, 20 N. American Street; Burial Ground, 5th & Arch Streets, (215) 922-1695, christchurchphila.org
  14. It doesn’t get more charming than Elfreth’s Alley, America’s oldest continuously inhabited street, where visitors tiptoe along the cobblestones and explore the quaint museum. 124-126 Elfreth’s Alley, (215) 627-8680, elfrethsalley.org
  15. What’s a Colonial widow to do when she has an upholstery shop to run, a family to raise, a (very tiny) household to run and a flag to sew for a new nation? The answers are at the Betsy Ross House. 239 Arch Street, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
  16. They were only four pages, but they changed the world. At the National Constitution Center, visitors can take the presidential oath of office, sign the U.S. Constitution and learn about the American way of government. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6600, constitutioncenter.org
  17. Wheee! A carousel ride is just part of the fun at Franklin Square. Philly-themed mini-golf, playgrounds, a burger stand and lots of family-friendly events make this one of the liveliest of William Penn’s five original squares. 6th & Race Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
  18. At The African American Museum in Philadelphia, artwork and artifacts showcase African history and culture of the Diaspora. Octavius Cato, Richard Allen and other trailblazers tell their stories through modern-day video technology. 7th & Arch Streets, (215) 574-0380, aampmuseum.org
  19. Such a tiny house (by 21st-century standards) to hold such big ideas. Known as the Declaration House, the home of Jacob Graff hosted Thomas Jefferson as he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Hours are limited; information on tour times is available at the Independence Visitor Center. 7th & Market Streets, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
  20. Visitors can stroll on the world’s largest walkable Philadelphia map at the Philadelphia History Museum and then check out the exhibits that show how Philly got to be, well, Philly. 15 S. 7th Street, (215) 685-4830, philadelphiahistory.org
  21. History permeates the atmosphere at Washington Square, a former animal pasture and burial ground. Today it’s a peaceful and popular place for picnicking and playing. 6th & Walnut Streets, (215) 965-2305, nps.gov/inde
  22. Pay homage to A.M.E. Church founder and first bishop Richard Allen, who is buried at Mother Bethel. In the church museum, sacred artifacts trace the denomination’s roots from a small congregation to an international presence. 419 S. 6th Street, (215) 925-0616, motherbethel.org
  23. Anyone who thinks our forefathers were stodgy should think again. Scandal erupted at the Physick House when the wife of Dr. Phillip Syng Physick, father of American surgery, left him. The Powel House was the scene of a splashy celebration honoring George and Martha’s big 20th wedding anniversary. Physick, 321 S. 4th Street, (215) 925-7866, philalandmarks.org; Powel, 44 S. 3rd Street, (215) 925-2251, philalandmarks.org
  24. At the National Liberty Museum, glass sculptures depict our fragile freedom. Explore stories of heroes who used their own liberty to expand freedom for all. 321 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-2800, libertymuseum.org

In spring 2016, Drexel University and VISIT PHILADELPHIA® launched a new campaign—Historic Philadelphia—to celebrate America’s most historic square mile in the country’s first World Heritage City, as designated by the Organization of World Heritage Cities. Focusing on the attractions and neighborhoods of Old City, Society Hill and the Delaware River Waterfront, the campaign celebrates Philadelphia’s incomparable place in early American history and the vibrant original city neighborhoods.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, visitors can engage with costumed history makers, hear stories of the real people of independence and take part in colonial reenactments. And every day of the year, they can tour, shop, dine and drink in the area just like the founding fathers and mothers once did. For more information about all there is to see and do in Historic Philadelphia, go to visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com.

Contact(s):
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