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150 Years Since The 13th Amendment Passed: Historic Philadelphia's African-American Experience Is More Moving Than Ever
Philadelphia reveals undertold chapters in the nation’s history, including the challenges, injustices, accomplishments and contributions of Africans and African-Americans during the United States’ early years. This year, the National Constitution Center commemorates the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery (the original document is on display) and the beginning of the Reconstruction Era.
Visitors to America’s “Most Historic Square Mile” can discover the more complete story of African-Americans at these moving sites:
Museums & Attractions:
- The African American Museum in Philadelphia, founded in 1976, is the first institution built by a major U.S. city to preserve,
Bucks County: Bristol
Founded in 1681, the town of Bristol, Pennsylvania boasts a long and proud history. Located on the banks of the Delaware River, Bristol served an important role in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars, and at one time it was a major textile-milling center. The old-world influence still exists today, as evidenced by the town’s many antique shops, historic mansions and significant landmarks.
Along the riverfront, several statues pay tribute to such icons as Christopher Columbus and Harriet Tubman. Two other important figures for the town: textile-milling tycoon Joseph R. Grundy and his sister and library advocate Margaret
Montgomery County: Jenkintown
One of the oldest boroughs in Montgomery County, Jenkintown brims with historical interest and secret finds. In this residential community, visitors find National Landmarks, an active art scene and shops and restaurants.
Settled by William Jenkins in 1697, Jenkintown was incorporated in 1874. Among the quirkier holdovers from older days are the two fire companies founded in the 19th century. Both continue to serve the half-mile area today. Like many of the suburbs that surround Philadelphia, Jenkintown had its first heyday in the 19th and 20th centuries. A downtown revival in the 2000s, with the renovation of the
Montgomery County: Skippack
Quaint to its floorboards, Skippack embraces its historic appeal. Amid the covered bridge and old-fashioned lampposts, however, visitors find stylish gift stores and galleries and buzzing restaurants and bars that speak to a modern-day audience. With a mixture of European charm and hippie ease, this shopping-centric town has evolved through the years to become a popular tourist destination.
Skippack’s origins date back to 1683, when German settlers overran Germantown and moved by boat up the Perkiomen Creek to a place where the shallow water prohibited farther travel. There they stayed and named the land “Schippach.” In 1795, Jacob
Montgomery County: Ardmore
As the largest and most diverse town on the ritzy Main Line stretch of suburbs, Ardmore has a distinctly double character: It’s residential yet urban, independent yet central, historic yet forward-facing. Even the community itself straddles two counties (Ardmore is seated in Montgomery County, while South Ardmore is in Delaware County). Add to that some of the area’s best shopping, dining and nightlife, and visiting Ardmore is a multidimensional experience.
Once known as Athensville, the town was rechristened “Ardmore” by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1873. The railroad also lent the town its transportation hub, and gave the “Main
Montgomery County: Ambler
The definition of a small town, Ambler covers less than one square mile. Despite its diminutive size, it’s amazingly complete, with a host of shops, restaurants, bars and special events that keep the streets bustling. Unassuming and unpretentious, Ambler has retained an historic gentility and independent spirit that are the pride of this tightly knit community.
Originally known as the Village of Wissahickon, Ambler was renamed in 1869 in honor of Mary Johnson Ambler, a Quaker resident who helped lead rescue efforts during the Great Train Wreck of 1856. The town served as a manufacturing hub in the
Philadelphia County: Mt. Airy
Sometimes a name so perfectly defines a neighborhood that it creates a pretty accurate mental image. That’s Mt. Airy. Gently rising from the banks of the Wissahickon Creek, Mt. Airy, which is only 20 minutes from Center City, combines dense leafy park land, miles of multi-use trails, tree-lined streets and a historic cobblestoned business corridor that attracts aspiring entrepreneurs.
Mt. Airy’s varied architecture recounts its historic roots. Structures dating back to the 18th century sit alongside Victorian and 20th-century homes. The community’s Quaker roots might be one reason that Mt. Airy became a model of successful integration early...
Chester County: West Chester
Home to West Chester University, this quaint town in the Brandywine Valley exudes an energetic, young vibe. In the bustling downtown area, casual eateries and food-centric events satiate hungry palates, and throngs of charming shops line the streets.
As Chester County’s county seat, West Chester has a strong political history. The first biography of Abraham Lincoln, which was instrumental in his eventual election to the presidency, was published in The Lincoln Building on West Market Street in 1860. Downtown West Chester has since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as a Distinctive Destination
Many Of Philly's Top Sites Say "Hola" To Spanish-Speaking Visitors
Spanish-speaking visitors to Philadelphia can feel truly welcomed at many of the region’s tourist attractions, thanks to a wealth of bilingual docents, translated audio guides and multilingual written materials. Each year, more than one million domestic visitors to Greater Philadelphia are of Hispanic origin. Because of this influx, the region’s historical and cultural sites are busy making accommodations so that their Spanish-speaking guests don’t have to miss out on a thing.
Before, during and even after their visits, travelers can stay updated on the region’s Latino culture by following @PhillyTeAma on Twitter.
- The best place to start
Chester County: Phoenixville
At the intersection of the Schuylkill River and French Creek, Phoenixville blends historic charm with a modern mindset. Originally known as Manavon, it adopted its current name in 1849; at the time, the town’s biggest employer was the Phoenix Iron Company, a major manufacturer of nails, rails, structural steel and weapons. Today, Phoenixville boasts an artsy, low-key vibe that attracts visitors craving a relaxing day with a creative twist.
Occupying the former Phoenix Iron Company Foundry building, the Schuylkill River Heritage Center offers a multimedia glimpse in to the industrial history of the Chester County and the Schuylkill
Chester County: Kennett Square
Dubbed the Mushroom Capital of the World, Kennett Square sits in the heart of the lush Brandywine Valley. In the center of town, locals gather to shop and dine, while further out, the surrounding farms produce roughly 60% of the country’s mushrooms, earning the area its well-deserved nickname.
Originally occupied by Lenape Native Americans, the area known as Kennett Square served an important role in the nation’s history. British soldiers camped here during the Revolutionary War, the town served as a military encampment during the War of 1812 and many prominent Kennett Square citizens helped slaves escape as
Delaware County: Media
At less than one square mile, Media may be compact, but the county seat of Delaware County, located 12 miles southwest of Philadelphia, is quite multi-faceted. Not only does it carry the nickname “Everybody’s Hometown” for its stated commitment to diversity and neighborliness, it also holds the distinction as America’s original Fair Trade town, marking its public support of businesses that ensure workers receive a fair price for their products and labor. The feeling of community is palpable on State Street, where shopkeepers tend lovingly to stores situated in buildings older than the town itself, and acquaintances greet one another...
Delaware County: Wayne
In 1940, movie director George Cukor set his Oscar-winning film The Philadelphia Story in the prosperous enclave of Wayne, selecting it to depict high-society America. With such distinction to its name, along with a location on Philadelphia’s clubby Main Line, Wayne carries itself with an elegant grace while maintaining a down-to-earth spirit. Sure, some of downtown’s boutiques set the standard for trendy women’s fashions, and many restaurants set their tables with crystal stemware, but it’s clear from one step inside the bohemian Gryphon Coffee or Teresa’s Next Door Belgian beer bar that Wayne never loses its genuine sense of welcome...
Philadelphia County: Chestnut Hill
Loaded with photo-worthy charm, Chestnut Hill is tucked in the northwest section of Philadelphia just 35 minutes from Center City. And thanks to its location near the Wissahickon and Cresheim creeks and Fairmount Park, this National Register Historic District enjoys an abundance of greenery and open spaces.
Once a suburb where well-to-do Philadelphians escaped the city’s summer heat, Chestnut Hill saw an influx of year-round residents with the arrival of railroads in the 19th century. It was then, and still is, a relatively affluent community with an array of historic mansions and Victorian twins and row houses.
Bucks County: New Hope
There’s likely nowhere else in the country that can claim New Hope’s special blend of quirkiness, history, joviality, an abundance of art galleries, sophisticated dining, eclectic shopping and a lively theater scene. This riverside town boasts a strong gay community, a concentration of artistic talent and a past as a player in the East Coast shipping trade.
Together with Lambertville, New Jersey, a more compact but equally adorable town connected by a pedestrian bridge, New Hope’s commercial district nurtures a business community with wide-ranging tastes. On Main Street alone, dozens of shops offer a variety of goods—from art and women’s...
Fact Sheet: 30 Top Philadelphia 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:
- While exploring the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, visitors can enjoy exhibitions that display artifacts from the ship’s past and play an interactive role. A walk down Broadway, the longest and most impressive passageway on the battleship, is part of the guided tour. America’s most decorated battleship also hosts special events and overnight encampments. 62 Battleship Place, Camden, NJ, (866) 877-6262, battleshipnewjersey.org
- The Betsy Ross House tells this story of
Philadelphia County: Manayunk
On the list of Philadelphia’s quirkily named geographic landmarks, Manayunk is right up there. This Native American word, meaning “where we to go drink,” references the neighborhood’s location next to the Schuylkill River. While the river helped shape Manayunk’s identity, so do the hills (more on those to come). Yet despite its famous inclines, or maybe because of them, what was once one of the city’s hottest industrial centers is now one of its hottest neighborhoods, with plenty of places where people can go to drink.
The combination of singles, young families and life-long residents whose families have lived here...
Philadelphia Rocks The Fourth With 48 Hours Of Fun
As the calendar zooms towards Independence Day, Philadelphia, where the nation was born 239 years ago, revs up for a full week of flag-waving, heart-swelling, hand-clapping, patriotic fun. The annual Wawa Welcome America! celebration lasts for an entire week, and come Friday, July 3, the revelry really picks up with 48 hours of fun. That means patriotic ceremonies, parades, concerts, fireworks and festivities that mark the 50th anniversary of a protest demonstration that laid the groundwork for LGBT civil rights. Here’s a look at what’s happening on July 3 and 4:
- Visitors are free to celebrate
Bucks County: Doylestown
When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter traveled to the Vatican to visit Pope Francis, he presented the pontiff with a gift: a set of handcrafted Mercer tiles from Doylestown. The mayor is one of many who have discovered Doylestown through the legacy of Henry Mercer. The late 19th- and early 20th-century archeologist and ceramist built the cheerful borough its three most striking landmarks: Fonthill, a maze-like 44-room concrete castle; the Mercer Museum, a six-story Gothic historical repository for pieces of early Americana that Mercer collected; and Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, where employees preserve fading methods of...
Now Playing In Philadelphia: Big Events & Openings
With 2015 comes plenty of reasons for visitors to plan a trip to Philadelphia. In fact, The New York Times ranked Philly at the #3 spot in its influential article of the
“52 Places to Go in 2015.”
So what’s on the calendar for the rest of the year? The Tall Ships festival, showing off a dozen historic ships on the Delaware River waterfront; Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting, featuring 80 works by a who’s-who of painters at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Down the Rabbit Hole: Celebrating 150 Years of Alice in Wonderland at...