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Releases: Expanded View

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, $18 for adults—a $37 value—and $13 for children—a $27 value—gives visitors one-time admission to the National Constitution Center, Betsy Ross House and Christ Church Burial Ground, along with two days of rides on the PHLASH Downtown Loop. It’s valid for two days and can be purchased at the Independence Visitor Center or at visitphilly.com/historic

Calendars ready? Here’s what’s new in Historic Philadelphia this summer:

Family Fun & Festivals:

  • Here’s a toast to summer Thursdays in Old City, when happy hour gets a lot happier. During Old City Eats, more than 30 of the neighborhood’s most popular bars and restaurants, including Fork, High Street, Buddakan, The Little Lion, Common Wealth, Amada, The Olde Bar, Continental, among others, offer diners half-price small plates, drink specials, seasonal cocktails and more. Through August 25, 5-8 p.m. oldcitydistrict.org
  • As one of Philly’s favorite hot-weather hangouts, Spruce Street Harbor Park just keeps getting better. This go-round, friends and families can lounge together in private waterfront cabanas, enjoy great new dining options from Top Chef Kevin Sbraga and Iron Chef Jose Garces, and snooze in tree-slung hammocks. May 6-September 26, 2016. Columbus Boulevard at Spruce Street, (215) 922-2386, delawareriverwaterfront.com
  • The Declaration of Independence is missing, and kid detectives can help find it in the new Colonial Kids’ Quest Puppet Show. Animal puppets lead the investigation as children of all ages track down Thomas Jefferson’s masterwork. Saturdays, May 28-July 23, 2016. Behind Carpenters’ Hall, 320 Chestnut Street. (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
  • Five minutes. That’s all it takes for visitors to transport to another place and time when seated upon one of 13 free Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches located throughout Historic Philadelphia. Professional storytellers enchant their audiences with true, little-known tales from our nation’s past. This season, new stories and new benches keep the 11-year program fresh and fun for visitors of all ages. May 28-September 5, 2016. (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
  • What’s red, white and blue all over? Wawa Welcome America, the Fourth of July celebration so big, it lasts a week. The United States’ birthday bash blasts out fun with free admission to various museums throughout Historic Philadelphia; free concerts and outdoor movies throughout the district; Wawa Hoagie Day, featuring a free lunch from an approximately five-ton hoagie; three spectacular fireworks displays; historical reenactments and parades; and the Liberty Block Party, a truly old-fashioned outdoor celebration. June 27-July 4, 2016. (267) 546-5424, welcomeamerica.com
  • Folks can get a head start on patriotic partying during the Historic Philadelphia Block Party, a celebration of Philadelphia’s original city. The focus is on family-friendly fun during the daylong festivities, featuring two stages rocking with local musicians and dancers, a Kids’ Zone, crafters, merchants and food trucks galore. Come twilight, Independence Mall becomes the backdrop for the POPS on Independence concert, where picnicking is encouraged. July 3. Between 5th & 6th Streets and Market & Arch Streets, (267) 546-5424, welcomeamerica.com
  • While Betsy Ross was upstairs stitching flags and upholstery, Phillis, a former slave who earned her freedom, worked downstairs as a laundress. Part of the year’s new Women at Work in Revolutionary America installation, Phillis is hard at work once again at the Betsy Ross House, where visitors can chat with her and learn about her life. 239 Arch Street, (215) 686-1252, historicphiladelphia.org
  • On Penn’s Landing, the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest kicks things up a notch this season. An outdoor roller-skating rink remains the centerpiece of the riverfront space. New this year, skaters can cool off in the Chickie’s & Pete’s Crab Shack, get their putt-putt on at a mini-golf course where each of nine artist-designed holes features sculpture made from recyclable materials and an new urban beach comes complete with oversize umbrellas, lounge chairs and misting stations. Opens May 6, 2016. Columbus Boulevard at Chestnut Street, (215) 922-2386, delawareriverwaterfront.com.

Excellent Exhibitions:

  • To illustrate the fragility of freedom, the National Liberty Museum hosts Techniques, and exhibition of works by renowned glass sculptors that depict the broad spectrum of ways the fragile material is used as a medium for art. Through July 1, 2016. 321 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-2800, libertymuseum.org
  • Election fever puts the National Constitution Center’s exhibition Headed to the White House at the top of every citizen’s civic list. After discovering the history of American elections and voting rights, visitors can launch their own campaigns, develop campaign messages, use the “Ad-O-Matic” to create commercials and ultimately take the presidential oath of office. Through November 13, 2016. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6600, constitutioncenter.org
  • Three exhibitions at the Independence Seaport Museum grab visitors hook, line and sinker. Hello Sailor, running through fall 2016, offers a cheeky, saucy take on the classic, white-capped image of sailors in 20th-century music, ads and pop culture. Artship Olympia transforms the oldest floating steel warship in the world into a site-specific art venue, June 25-October 6, 2016. Pirates & Patriots, the museum’s newest permanent exhibit, weaves true tales of pirate-infested waters and intrepid American ships in the story of the formation of the U.S. Navy in Philadelphia. 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655, phillyseaport.org
  • With fresh summer produce tempting everyone’s taste buds, the National Museum of American Jewish History unveils Locally Grown: Jersey’s Jewish Farms, a special exhibition that explores how thousands of Jewish immigrants adopted an unexpected vocation by planting orchards, starting farms and tilling the soil of southern New Jersey. May 12-August 28, 2016. 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811, nmajh.org
  • Generations of local sewers have headed to South 4th Street for fabrics, notions and other supplies that once sold out of pushcarts and sidewalk stands, and now display in brick-and-mortar shops. In a new exhibition at the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent, Philadelphia’s Fabric Row: The Pushcart Years, 1905-1955 recalls the neighborhood’s hustle and bustle as tailors and dressmakers shopped for the finest materials for their fashions. Opens June 25, 2016. 15 S. 7th Street, (215) 685-4830, philadelphiahistory.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.

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