Philadelphia

In the next few days, I will post entries about places in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is one of the major cities in the northeast region of the United States. It’s located along one of the busiest interstate highways in the country, Interstate 95, in between two other big cities, Washington, DC, and New York City. The city was founded in 1682 by William Penn (who also founded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania). It was an important city during the American Revolution, as it was the meeting place for the Founding Fathers of the United States who wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 4th, 1776 and the US Constitution on September 17, 1787. The city also served as the temporary nation’s capital between 1790 and 1800 while the federal city of Washington, DC was under construction. Today, Philadelphia plays an important role as one of the major financial centers in the United States, and it’s also one of the largest health education and research centers in the country.

I first visited Philadelphia only to stop for lunch during a road trip between Washington, DC, and New York City. A few years ago, I spent almost a year traveling between Washington, DC and northern suburb of Philadelphia as I worked on a couple of projects for large healthcare companies in the area. I spent most of the time at work, however, so I didn’t get a chance to do touristy things until later after the projects were done. Since the location is not too far away from Washington, DC, area where I live (about 3.5 hour drive), it’s possible to do day trip to visit the city.

The photo below was taken when I visited the Independence National Historical Park in downtown Philadelphia a couple of years ago. It’s a statue of Philadelphia’s most famous resident, Benjamin Franklin, outside the American Philosophical Society building. Ben Franklin’s name is commemorated in many places in Philadelphia area — Ben Franklin Parkway, Franklin Institute — and rightly so, as he played an important role in the city and nation’s history. Franklin was instrumental in establishing some of the cities important services (e.g., its first fire department, library, and hospital). He also played important role in advancing science (he invented the lightning rod, bifocals, among others), and he also served as the Governor of Pennsylvania and as US Ambassador to France. Today you can also find his portrait on the US $100 bill.

Ben Franklin Statue

Independence Hall

The Independence Hall is a building in downtown Philadelphia, PA, that is the centerpiece of the Independence National Historical Park. It was the place where the United States Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written in 1776 and 1787. Nearby you can also find the Liberty Bell (the bell that was rung to mark the reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776) and historic buildings like the First Bank of the United States.

I visited the Independence Hall on a day trip from my home in Washington, DC, area about two years ago. I had traveled to Philadelphia area for work many times, but the travels were mostly to the suburban area of the city, and I had never visited the historic area in downtown before. So this visit was educational as I got to see the place where two of the important documents in the US history were written (you can see the original copy of these documents at the National Archives in Washington, DC). To visit the park, you can drive and park at the underground parking garage located near the Independence Visitor Center right across from the Independence Hall. To tour the inside of the Independence Hall you need to get a ticket at the Visitor Center (it’s free of charge, but you need a ticket as they have limit on the number of people that can go inside the building at a time).

The photo below was taken during my visit. It’s the Assembly Room inside the Independence Hall building where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were drafted and signed. The chair in the middle was the chair where George Washington, the first President of the United States, sat as he presided over the Congress during the deliberations and signing of the Constitution.

Independence Hall