Independence National Historical Park encompasses 45 acres in Philadelphia and includes 20 buildings of our colonial period. The Visitor Center alone is an imposing structure of 50,000 square feet which houses concierge services for Philadelphia visitors, historical exhibits, orientation films, tours and food. Free tickets to the Independence Hall enclave are obtained here. The tickets to this free area are to maintain a reasonable number of visitors to the site at one time..  (description continued below slideshow)


The Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House (known as Independence Hall) is where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were created and signed. Even if you are not an American History buff, you can’t help but be glad to be an American when visiting this site. There are a great number of foreign visitors to these sites, and I wonder what they think of us. Were we just rebels, or people who fought for freedom from an unjust ruler?

Carpenters’ Hall is just down the block from Independence Hall, and it was there that the First Continental Congress met in 1774. The Liberty Bell Center is an impressive building housing the Liberty Bell.  Since the bell itself isn’t very large, the building consists primarily of information panels displaying the history and symbolism of the bell.

The Second Bank of the U.S. is a beautiful Greek Revival building modeled on the Parthenon.  A plaque on the building describes its interesting history. The bank president and Henry Clay fought with President Andrew Jackson for control of the nation’s monetary system. As president, Jackson prevented the rechartering of the 2nd Bank in 1836, and the beautiful building served as the Philadelphia Custom House until 1934. Now it is a national portrait gallery with numerous late 18th and early 19th century portraits of important Americans.

Christ Church was the first parish of the Church of England in America. When America declared its independence, this church became the first American Episcopal Church. Built in 1727 its Georgian architecture features a steeple which was financed by a lottery organized by Benjamin Franklin. It was the tallest structure in the Colonies for 75 years. In addition to Franklin, George Washington, Betsy Ross, Benjamin Rush, Francis Hopkinson and many other Revolutionary leaders worshiped there. The pews of Franklin and Washington are marked with plaques commemorating their owners.

Christ Church Burial Ground contains the graves of five signers of the Declaration of Independence, including Benjamin Franklin.

Elfreth’s Alley is the country’s oldest residential street, and has been continuously occupied since 1713, and for the U.S., that’s a long time. The houses are well-maintained and seem minuscule compared to our homes of today. They are built adjacent to one another in what I could call row houses.

The entire historic section of Philadelphia is really quite tiny. We walked everywhere, and the distances were quite short. We stayed at an RV park in New Jersey and took a train right to downtown Philadelphia, thus avoiding the horrendous traffic of the city and the appalling price of parking. Our two round trip train tickets were far less than parking the car would have been. It was definitely the way to go.