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Releases: Expanded View

Dec 14 2017

Philadelphia’s Historic District Brings Outlander To Life

Storied Philly Blocks Reveal Historic Locations Used In Diana Gabaldon’s Popular Novels

What’s Philadelphia’s Historic District got to do with Outlander, author Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling eight-book (and-counting) series—now also a hit TV series on Starz—about a World War II British army nurse who travels through time to meet an 18th-century Scottish Highlander? Plenty. Protagonists Claire and Jamie Fraser are at the heart of Outlander’s heady romance and historic fantasy. In the book series’ last two editions—which are not yet televised—the Frasers bring that romance and fantasy to the heart of Philadelphia’s Historic District.

Revolutionary War-era Philadelphia sets the scene for Gabaldon’s most recent novels, An Echo in the Bone and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. (The first, Outlander, was published in 1990.) Within and around the original city, the couple meets Dr. Benjamin Rush, Thomas Paine and Benedict Arnold. Claire Fraser chats up both General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. Jamie Fraser serves under Washington in the Continental Army.

Among the deaths, weddings, reunions, life-saving surgeries and life-threatening battles—exactly what fans have come to expect from Gabaldon—much of the action takes place in and around Philadelphia’s Historic District, between the Delaware River and 7th Street, Vine and Lombard Streets. Here are the real Philadelphia sites where the Frasers and other fictional Outlander characters spent time, and attractions that recall the events they experienced. Spoiler alert: There are lots of spoilers.

Outlander Sites In The Historic District:

  • An Echo in the Bone arrives in Philadelphia around July 4, 1777, when the city is in rebel hands—and celebrating. Some of the deepest dives into our nation’s origin story come via visits to the must-visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, both part of Independence National Historical Park. Hall: 6th & Chestnut Streets; Bell: 6th & Market Streets, (215) 965-2305,
  • Is there a doctor in the house? Wherever Claire Fraser is, yes. But colonial Philadelphia was home to another famous surgeon, Declaration of Independence signer, Dr. Benjamin Rush, who, in the series, aids a character’s battle-wounded relative in 1777. Today, Rush’s house is gone, but an 18th-century-style garden gracefully marks its footprint in Independence National Historical Park. Other notable 18th-century homes nearby include the Dolley Todd House at 4th and Walnut Streets. Benjamin Rush Garden: 3rd & Walnut Streets,
  • Billed as “our nation’s oldest residential street,” Elfreth’s Alley, between 2nd Street and the Delaware River, appears 18th-century picturesque because much effort has gone into keeping it that way. It’s quiet now, but back in the day this section lived up to its “Hell Town” nickname. A heartsick William Ransom, the titled son of Jamie Fraser, ventures here in search of a pleasurable escape from torment, but finds trouble instead. One of the tiny houses is a museum open to the public (no. 124-126), and there are private and special-event tours. (215) 574-0560,
  • A house at “17 Chestnut Street” is the center of much of the action in Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. The location was fictional, but a sense of what a city neighborhood was like in the 18th century is never far away in the neighborhood of Society Hill, with its brick-fronted period mansions, cobblestone alleys and a recreated Headhouse Square that’s home to a year-round farmers’ market. This picturesque neighborhood is bordered by the Delaware River and 8th Street, Walnut and Lombard Streets.
  • Spoiler alert! Also in the latest book in the series, Young Ian Murray, who is Jamie Fraser’s nephew, and Rachel Hunter, a Quaker physician’s assistant, and Denzell Hunter, Rachel’s brother and Continental Army surgeon and nurse Dottie Grey are wed in a double ceremony at a fictional church that physically and historically resembles St. George’s United Methodist Church. St. George’s is open for services, tours and weddings. 235 N. 4th Street, (215) 925-7788,

Outlander Themes in the Historic District:

  • A Sassenach’s got to eat. (“Sassenach” is an old Gaelic term that’s pejorative for outsider; in Outlander, it is also Jamie’s pet name for Claire.) City Tavern, a Colonial dining establishment based on the restaurant frequented by John Adams, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin and their compatriots, recreates through-the-Stones authenticity. The staff wears period costumes and chef Walter Staib’s menu tweaks 18th-century dishes for today’s tastes. 138 S. 2nd Street, (215) 413-1443,
  • The Franklin Court Printing Office belonged to Benjamin Franklin, but the Historic District replica of the 18th-century print shop strongly resembles that of Outlander printers and couple Fergus and Marsali Fraser. Among the Frasers’ customers was a dour fellow by the name of Thomas Paine. Franklin Court, with entrances on Market and Chestnut streets between 3rd and 4th Streets, (215) 965-2305,
  • The Museum of the American Revolution houses artifacts, documents and art from the era the two novels cover. Powder horns to muskets to cooking gear, flags and uniforms are all like those the Frasers might have seen or used. Perhaps Claire and Jamie were in General Washington’s headquarters tent, also on display. 101 S. 3rd Street, (215) 253-6731,

Outlander Beyond The Historic District:

  • Armed with a 20th-century medical degree but 18th-century medical supplies, Claire relies heavily on herbal remedies. So of course she restocks her medicinal larder at Bartram’s Garden. It’s also the scene of a thunderous reunion with her husband. The garden takes up 45 acres along the Schuylkill River and has both a rolling meadow and medicinal plant display. 5400 Lindbergh Boulevard, (215) 729-5281,
  • The 18th-century Cliveden House in Germantown has an intriguing Outlander connection. The estate was the site of the decisive Battle of Germantown in October 1777, part of the British reoccupation of Philadelphia. The house, now open for tours, displays authentic period furnishings (once the provenance of the resident Chew family), including two ornate mirrors and other mementos from the Mischianza, the notoriously posh British ball of 1778 honoring British General William Howe and his brother, Admiral Richard Howe. In the book, Claire attended the affair, naturally. On the first Saturday October, Cliveden hosts a reenactment of 1777’s Battle of Germantown. 6401 Germantown Avenue, (215) 848-1777,
  • The Continental Army encampment at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78 is a somber backdrop for many events in Echo in the Bone. Characters tend to the sick and wounded—approximately 2,000 soldiers died, though no battles were fought—and a Redcoat Fraser relative courageously seeks aid here. Valley Forge National Historical Park commemorates our founders’ sacrifice with educational displays and interpretive programs, a restored Washington’s headquarters, statues and other memorials. The park’s 3,500 acres offer multi-use and horse trails, picnic areas and more. 1400 N. Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, (610) 783-1000,
  • Rittenhouse Square’s popular British pub The Dandelion gives a culinary nod to Claire’s 20th-century roots, especially when the menu features Eton Mess, a dessert she serves at a dinner party in the third season of the TV show, along with sticky toffee pudding, a perennial (although comparatively modern) dessert favorite. 124 S. 18th Street, (215) 558-2500,
  • The Frasers cross paths numerous times with notorious Revolutionary War General Benedict Arnold (before he turned traitor). Claire also meets Peggy Shippen. Arnold and Shippen married in 1779, the same year he purchased Mount Pleasant, one of the historic Fairmount Park mansions along the Schuylkill River. Mount Pleasant closed temporarily for renovation in 2017, but visitors can tour other period homes in Fairmount Park.
  • Many scenes in Written in My Own Heart’s Blood—including one of the saddest—take place “perhaps two hours’ walk outside the city,” according to the book. This would place the Frasers and other characters approximately five miles from the Historic District, in the heart of Fairmount Park. The Park’s Wissahickon Valley Park evokes the grandeur of America’s great forests and features 50 miles of multiuse trails and history. Along the Wissahickon Creek, the easy-to-navigate five-and-a-half-mile Forbidden Drive—“forbidden” because cars can’t drive on it—lets visitors walk, bike, run or meander on horseback. Friends of the Wissahickon has the details, plus guided hikes and other activities.

Philadelphia’s Historic District campaign, from VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, showcases the city’s incomparable place in early American history and the still vibrant neighborhoods of Old City, Society Hill and the Delaware River Waterfront. The campaign celebrates America’s most historic square mile in the country’s first World Heritage City, as designated by the Organization of World Heritage Cities. Funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development and H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest, the initiative runs through September 2018.

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 Philadelphia’s Historic District, go to and

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Related Releases

Jan 19 2018

31 Top Philadelphia Region Attractions In 2017

Fact Sheet

Note: Most attractions were listed in the Philadelphia Business Journal Book of Lists 2017. Those that were not are marked with an asterisk*.

Historical Sites & Attractions:
1. African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP)* – Founded in 1976, AAMP is the first institution in a major U.S. city to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage and culture of African-Americans. The core exhibit Audacious Freedom takes a fresh, bold look at African-Americans’ role in the founding of the nation; other exhibits and programs explore the history, present and future of the African diaspora in the U.S. 701 Arch Street, (215)

Oct 30 2017

An Essential Guide To Philadelphia For LGBT Visitors

Must-Dos Include Historic Sites, Popular Neighborhoods, Top Restaurants & Buzzed-About Bars

Philadelphia, the United States’ birthplace, is proud of the roles it has played—and plays still—in the founding, furtherance and celebration of the LGBT civil rights movement. The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has more nationally significant historic markers than any other city in the nation, with two recent additions: the AIDS Library, formed as a resource during the peak period of the U.S. HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, and a marker just outside the Pennsylvania Historical Society, home of the collection of John Fryer, a Temple University psychology professor who submitted testimony that aided in declassifying homosexuality as

Jun 19 2017

A First-Timer's Guide To Philadelphia

Iconic Sites & Bites Give Visitors An Experience That’s Distinctly Philly

From its fascinating museums and vibrant parks to its national historic sites and famous (and delicious) food, Philadelphia offers plenty to see, do and taste. First-time visitors need to do some planning to fully experience what the City of Brotherly Love is all about. Here’s the ultimate guide for those who are new to the country’s first World Heritage City:

Historical Hotspots:

  • Independence Hall – While historical attractions abound in Philly, Independence Hall has particular significance to the development of the nation. In this building in 1776, the Founding Fathers came together to sign the Declaration of Independence. Eleven
Jun 14 2017

What's In The Society Hill Neighborhood?

Restuarants, Bars, Cafes, Shops, Entertainment, Historic Attractions, Parks And More

With its cobblestone streets and original 18th- and 19th-century buildings from the Delaware River to 7th Street and Walnut to Lombard Streets, Philadelphia’s quaint Society Hill neighborhood remains as picture-perfect today as it was hundreds of years ago. Its proximity to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Independence Visitor Center make it hard for people to resist the appeal of walking the same streets the nation’s founders once did.

Following an era when the neighborhood was home to a number of luminaries—Samuel Powel, the first mayor of the city after independence was declared, future

Jun 8 2017

Kids Find Much To Love In Philadelphia's Historic District

America’s Most Historic Square Mile Has Big Fun—And Huge History—For Little Humans

Kids have been having a ball in Philadelphia’s Historic District for nearly three centuries now—but never more than lately. In 2017, the original city positively bursts with opportunities for children to learn, play, eat and even relax. Here’s a list of go-to spots in the supremely easy-to-get-around District for visitors of all ages, but especially for ages 0 to 12. Keep in mind that every older group of kids should enjoy younger age groups’ recommendations too.

The Early Years, Ages 0-2:

  • Franklin Square – The tot lot at this historic city-block park—planned in the 17th century by William
Jun 6 2017

Philadelphia's Classic Fourth Of July Celebration Turns 25

Wawa Welcome America! Includes Four Fireworks Shows, Four Concerts, Free Museums, Boyz II Men & Mary J. Blige

Welcome America turns 25 this year, and Philadelphia is planning a six-day Independence Day festival to celebrate. As always, a birthday party of this magnitude can take place only in the United States’ birthplace—Philly. From June 29 through July 4, 2017, Wawa Welcome America! includes four spectacular fireworks shows, a bigger Historic District Block Party, a delicious Wawa Hoagie Day and a huge July 4th concert—this time, starring Mary J. Blige. Also on the docket: Free Museum Days, outdoor movies—including Rocky on the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps—and new alfresco happy hours.

To take in all the patriotic

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 3 2017

Philadelphia's Historic District Gears Up For A Revolutionary Summer

New Museum, New Hotel & New Concert Make The Original City A Must This Summer

The just-opened Museum of the American Revolution brings the United States’ war for independence into today’s consciousness, using rarely seen relics, the original George Washington Headquarters Tent, dozens of arms, uniforms, artifacts, documents and historical vignettes of ordinary Americans to tell the extraordinary story of the nation’s founding. But the new museum isn’t the only reason to visit Philadelphia’s Historic District this summer. The Historic District consists of the Old City, Society Hill and Delaware River Waterfront neighborhoods, extending from the Delaware River to 7th Street and Vine Street to Lombard Street.

The District’s summer lineup of must-do events

May 3 2017

VISIT PHILADELPHIA's Historic District Campaign Enters Year Two

Visitors Go Beyond The Bell & The Hall To Discover More History, More Fun

The recent opening of the Museum of the American Revolution, art-centric and community-minded programming and an integrated marketing campaign are the highlights of year two of VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s efforts to promote Philadelphia’s Historic District, a vibrant neighborhood that attracts approximately four million visitors annually.

Philadelphia’s Historic District—the original city in the 17th and 18th century—extends from the Delaware River to 7th Street and from Vine to Lombard Streets. Home to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell new and long-established museums, historic houses and interactive storytelling benches, the District is also where America’s founding generation ate, drank,