Happy Fourth of July! What better way to celebrate Independence Day than with a visit to the city that started it all?
Our day at Independence National Historic Park was one that we will never forget. Once we got there, we oriented ourselves by walking around the heart of the city. In the shadow of Independence Hall, we collected our tour tickets and got in line to see the Liberty Bell.
The Liberty Bell Center is open everyday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and you do not need tickets to visit it. This national icon of our country is something every American should lay eyes on. Inscribed with the words from Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof…” this beautiful reminder is even more fascinating up close. The crack in the bell is the most memorable characteristic of this national symbol. No one knows why the bell cracked, but it has not been rung since 1846.
Around the corner from the Liberty Bell Center is the Free Quaker Meeting House. The men and women who met here, including Betsy Ross, separated themselves from their pacifist counterparts. These Free Quakers responded to the call-to-arms and were willing to fight for their country. In 1783, they built this building for worship services and meetings.
While we were there, a gentleman in period garb explained to us what life would have been like in 1783. He had examples from an apothecary, maps from the times, and samples of the money used in the colonies.
After seeing history come alive, we visited the Portrait Gallery inside the Second Bank of the United States. Over 150 portraits of our greatest founding fathers line the wall of this stately building. The kids were excited to be able to pick out the familiar faces of early presidents, and learned about the works of American painter Charles Wilson Peale.
After visiting the museum, it was time for us to tour Independence Hall. I had reserved and picked up our free tickets from the Independence Visitor Center earlier, but we had chosen a time late in the day so that it could be our last stop. It was truly inspiring to stand in the room where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were both signed. The park ranger leading our tour was able to point out where representatives from each state sat, and we saw just how close John Adams was to Thomas Jefferson during this crucial time in our history.
Every family would enjoy spending time in Philadelphia. There are few cities in this country so jam-packed with history; our one-day stop was simply not enough to do the city justice. We are really looking forward to returning soon.