Page Title: My Philadelphia     Visitor Tips         Philadelphia Sidewalks

I've made quite a hobby out of going to Philadelphia so I thought I'd start posting things I find around town.

Scenes from July 4th, 2010. Here's how it's supposed to work in The United States of America.

Stand on federal property in the shadow of where they created The Constitution. Protest against The President and the park ranger leaves you alone

Gather on a street corner with a loud speaker and protest the government. The Police and Old Glory guarantee your liberty.  I've spent time in countries where they would haul you in and slap you around for this. Thank you first amendment!


I will tell you what WAS on folks minds on July 4th, 1776:

Fred Fintsone and Barney Rubble!

That's right folks, Flintstones!

Journals of the Continental Congress

"Resolved, That the Board of War be empowered to employ such a number of persons....  in their respective states, where the best flint stones are to be obtained, with samples of the same

Resolved, That Mr. [Henry] Wisner be empowered to send a man, at the public expence, to Orange county, for a sample of flint stone.

Resolved, That an application be made to the committee of safety of Pensylvania for a supply of flints for the troops at New York: and that the colony of Maryland and Delaware be requested to embody their militia for the flying camp, with all expedition, and to march them, without delay, to the city of Philadelphia.

That the Secret Committee be instructed to order the flints belonging to the continent, and now at Rhode Island, to be sent to the general at New York."

Imagine. With all congress had going on they still had time to be concerned about the Flintstones. It just goes to show you that there is plenty of mundane work that goes into running a revolution. By the way, Mr. Henry Wisner referenced above, who would be on the trail of the Flintstones, is from Orange County, NY. He is a home town boy from Goshen, NY in our neck of the woods. That would be a great research paper to look at the guys who were in congress on July 4th, took part in the work that brought us independence, even supported independence and yet missed out on being part of one of the most exclusive clubs in all of human history: the 56 men who are immortalized as The Signers of the Declaration of Independence.  Mr. Wisner was apparently not in Congress on August 2nd when the formal signing of The Declaration was done. Dang.




VISITOR'S TIP: I've been visiting Independence National Historical Park, the most historic square mile in America, since 2000 so I will pass on suggestions for visitors.


People show up at Independence Hall after traveling thousands of miles to see it. They see this sign posted outside and they turn away and leave disappointed.

They don't notice the smaller print that says no tickets are needed to visit Congress Hall, Old City Hall, The American Philosophical Society (open most of the year) The West Wing and the grounds of Independence Hall. These all require NO tickets and are open for visitation.

Here is the distinction. The only way to get inside the assembly room of Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed, and where The Constitution was written and signed is on a ranger guided tour. That tour is the highlight of your visit. Prepare for it! You need tickets for that tour. The tickets are given out free, first come, first served, at the visitors center starting at 8:30 AM.

When they run out of tickets they put out this sign.

TICKETS ARE NOT GIVEN OUT AT INDEPENDENCE HALL. They give them out at the Visitors Center at 6th and Market St.

During busy times, they can run out by noon. They can only take about 70 people per tour and there are only so many tours each day. You can also book them in advance by phone or on line.

Call the reservation system 877-444-6777

RESERVED TICKETS ARE NOT PICKED UP AT INDEPENDENCE HALL!! Before your tour you must still pick up your tickets at the Visitors Center.

Advisory about tickets: Only a certain percentage of tickets are available on line or by phone. They always save some for to be given out each day over the counter. Even if the reservation system tells you there are no more tickets, there will be some given out at 8:30 each day when the visitors center ranger desk opens

However.............This sign does NOT mean you can't enter Independence Square and the other buildings there. Ask if there is an express tour that evening. Some times of year they take in groups of people without tickets beginning at 5PM. Be sure to ask a ranger and not the security guards who may or may not know.

This sign is worse. Hundreds of people each day see it after traveling here for a once in a lifetime visit. They turn around and leave without knowing they can just go through security, no ticket needed, and visit Congress Hall where George Washington and John Adams were inaugurated.........

ALSO, without tickets you can visit the West Wing, the smaller building to the left. There is an important collection of original documents in there including a Dunlap copy of The Declaration and Washington's personal proof copy of The Constitution.

ALERT! The West Wing will be closing at some point in 2017 due to rennovations









.....even if the Independence Hall tours are all booked up, DON'T GO AWAY DISAPPOINTED. Congress Hall is the arguably the fourth most important building in American History behind Independence Hall, The White House and our current Capitol. It served as our capitol from 1790-1800 before Congress moved to DC. After the short stay in NY City, It is where Congress really got going under the new Federal Constitution. Congress had a country to create. The Constitution was only the rule book.

You will visit the Senate chamber where Washington was sworn in for his second term. You will visit the House where the first transfer of power took place when John Adams was sworn in. It is where Congress began to actually create a government around the frame of the Constitution. Eleven signers of The Declaration served here in Congress  as did four future presidents: Madision, Monroe, Jackson and W.H. Harrision.

Ranger guided tours are given here about every 20 minutes and YOU DO NOT NEED TICKETS!!

SO, just walk past the sign and go through the security check. You do not need a ticket to go through security. You can then enjoy the grounds, Congress Hall and , for most of the year, even the museum of the American Philosophical Society.

FINAL OPPORTUNITY: Some times of the year, during the busier season, they have an open house type express tour from 5-6PM. You never need a ticket for that tour. If the sign is out saying that there are no tickets, find a ranger or ask the visitors center if there is an express tour that evening.


Here's another visitor tip. You're in luck if you can catch a park ranger guided walking tour or presentation. The first thing you should do when you get there is go to the visitors center. Ask the rangers for a copy of "The Gazette." Check the schedule to find out if there are any ranger events that day. Look what I found out by being on a walking tour. Thanks Ranger Tom.
That's the Penns Landing subway station at 2nd and Market street. But that's not all. Allow your mind to time travel back to 1731. Christ Church you see in the background was there. So was Benjamin Franklin's first printing shop. It occupied the corner where you see the subway station. You are looking across Market St at his print shop.

Stand here on the corner and imagine him coming out of his shop and maybe delivering a print job to Christ Church you see there up the street. I'll give you one better. If you were standing on this corner one morning in 1723 you would see 17 year old run away Ben Franklin walking from right to left through this picture.  He tells us in his autobiography that he arrived by boat and walked down Market St to 4th St. He had but a few coins in his pocket, was bedraggled, wet, and hungry. More later on the famous "puffy rolls".

Here you are standing at his print shop looking down Market St in the direction he went.
There you can see the plaque marking the print shop. Click on the thumbnail to enlarge it. People of Franklin's youth would have still remembered a time when books and printing presses were licensed by the government.

For over 200 years printing had been regulated "to protect the state against nonconforming religious and political opinions.."1 A 1586 law named only three towns in England where printing could take place. Two bishops were to decide the number of presses allowed. All books were licensed. Even more restrictive licensing acts were passed. Casting type required permission from the Stationer's Company, a guild created by royal charter to prevent Protestant writings.  It was given a printing monopoly, wide search powers to police the law and burn prohibited books. There were restrictions on imported books. Gradual opposition caused the last licensing act to expire in 1695.

Ben Franklin's contributions are legend. His inventions, experiments, business skill, self made wealth, writings, public service, leadership and diplomacy made him world famous in his own time. His contributions to the development and preservation of liberty are at the core of our American experience.

After all these professions and accomplishments, at the end of a long life he described himself in his will simply as "Benjamin Franklin, of Philadelphia, printer,"

1 Sources of Our Liberties; Edited by Richard Perry, American Bar Foundation 1952. page 242


In grade school you probably learned the story of how the Liberty Bell cracked. There was a little kid standing outside the Pennsylvania State House, now called Independence Hall, waiting for news that the Declaration of Independence had been adopted. When it was, he called up to his grandfather in the steeple tower and yelled, "Ring grandfather, ring for liberty." Grandpa did and the Liberty Bell cracked!

The trouble is, like so much what we get taught about history, it is not true! In fact, visit the Liberty Bell and Independence hall. You will learn that there is strong reason to believe that no one would have dared ring the State House bell (our Liberty Bell) on July 4th or on any other day. The bell tower was in very bad condition. It was slated to be demolished and replaced. Due to its dangerous condition, swinging a 2,000 pound bell would probably have been a bad idea. Also, independence had been declared on JULY 2nd! That's right. The Continental Congress declared its independence from Great Britain on July 2nd, not July 4th. It is unlikely that any city wide bell ringing celebration took place on either of those days. July 8th did see a large celebration when The Declaration was publicly read to a large crowd in the yard of Independence Hall.

Never the less, look what I found in the Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church Cemetery

       Here you go, written in stone. Someone believed enough that bells rang out on July 4th to create a monument to it. Is this an example of myth getting repeated enough that it becomes history? Is the bell Mr. Hurry is said to have rung the bell in the Old Pine Street Church, or the Liberty Bell in Independence Hall? I don't know, but if I can ever look into the matter I will post the answer here.


Birthplace of the United States Marine Corps Sahara Grill My favorite place. Cozy, Middle Eastern, low price, great food, good portions, friendly service. Bring your own wine or beer or they have cheap soda. 1334 Walnut St,(Between 13th and Broad) Philadelphia, 19104; 215-985-4155; Just 8 blocks from Independence Hall.

Walnut St. has loads of restaurants. Start at Washington Square park and head west you will find loads of places. There is a Five Guys Burger place down there too.

City Tavern: An authentic historical tavern (reconstruction) but going in there does feel like time travel. Historical menu, wait staff in period dress, and great micro brews using Washington's and Jefferson's brew recipes. This is fine dining but moderately priced for what it is. For the experience it is a good value. 138 South 2nd Street at Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106. About a ten minute walk from Independence Hall.