Philadelphia - Photo Journal
Pennsylvania, U.S.A. – Monday, July 16th & Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
Having stayed at plentiful hostels around Europe and Asia over the previous two years, there was a mixture of familiarity and foreignness to my first time staying at one on my American home soil. Apple Hostels of Philadelphia was well-reviewed, located close to center city, and was much cheaper than staying in a hotel would have cost, allowing me to spend a couple of days to finally tour one of America's most historic cities in my preferred style of international wayfaring.
Starting the day off right with a very good french toast and sausage breakfast at a nearby diner.
On my way to the Independence National Historical Park on a clear and sunny July morning.
Philadelphia was one of the first major planned cities in the United States. It has no "downtown", but rather is known as "city center", of which Federal style buildings like these are typical.
U.S. Customs House
Everywhere you go in Philadelphia's center city there are markers denoting something of historical interest.
Ben Franklin is also a pretty popular guy in Philadelphia.
The Independence National Historical Park is located in the middle of Philadelphia's city center, anchored by Independence Hall and also features the Liberty Bell.
Interior of the park's visitor's center. Very modern, a few displays, but most of the good stuff is outside.
Next to the park is the National Constitution Center. I didn't go in, as anytime the phrase "We the People" is awkwardly yet earnestly forced into a sentence it's usually best to keep your distance.
I was curious how a museum dedicated to a single paper document could be self-described as "hands-on", but I didn't feel like paying $15 to find out.
Next door is the United States Mint, which offers a free tour that includes a museum (with a multimedia show, most intriguingly detailing the initial debate of whether states should issue their own currency) and a self-guided tour above the production floor that details the coin minting process.
Unfortunately photos weren't allowed inside the mint so this will have to suffice. The whole tour takes an hour at most, and could even be completed in fifteen minutes if you just want to rush up to see the coin production.
Looking across Independence Mall
Liberty Bell Center. Like the U.S. Mint, it's free to tour. Unlike the Mint, the Liberty Bell is really popular with tourists; that's the line to get inside.
About to enter the Liberty Bell Center.
"If you have the urge to touch Liberty..." I have no idea if this sign is trying to be cutesy or if it's dead serious. While visiting some history museums in China it was easy to smirk at their overt nationalism, but really the United States can be just as bad, if not worse in that regard.
First part of the center consists of a few displays and historical notes.
The big attraction of course is the Liberty Bell.
The Liberty Bell isn't of any especially noteworthy historical importance by itself, but is rather like a celebrity of American history, famous only for being famous.
Ironic that the detail that would make this bell so famous is a testament to shoddy American design.
For as symbolic as this bell is, not many tourists today seem that interested in the most obvious symbolism of the bell's cracked silence.
The paradoxically pessimistic patriotism of the Liberty Bell's iconography has made it a popular symbol for protesters over the years.
Another perspective on Liberty.
The Liberty Bell is also viewable from outside the center through the glass, for those not interested in going inside. Next up; Independence Hall.
George Washington standing out front of Independence Hall.
In Philly you can rent a horse-drawn carriage, because, you know, history.
The courtyard behind Independence Hall acts as a waiting area for the tour. Even though the tour is free you have to reserve a time online, and it's suggested to get there a half hour early since you don't know how long the security checkpoint will take.
Independence Hall clock tower