Philadelphia – Where it all began

Starting with the Congress Hall, home to the U.S. Congress from 1790 to 1800, when Philadelphia served as the temporary capital of the United States.  Presidents Washington (his second term) and Adams were both inaugurated here.

The Senate chamber was adorned with heavy red drapes. Today all the rooms are restored to their original appearance. While most of the furniture is new, 28 of the desks at Congress Hall are original. Portraits of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette (pictured here) were gifts from France following the American Revolution. They can be seen in the adjoining committee rooms. 

A fresco of an American bald eagle on the ceiling holding an olive branch symbolizes peace. 

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania sat in this room in the 1700s.

And, finally, to the beginning: the Assembly Room, where both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed – although the date of the former is debatable as, apparently, some signers were not present at the time and did not sign the Declaration of Independence until more than a month later when news of the agreement finally reached them, as explained by our lively ranger.

Up next: a chance encounter

Independence Hall tour

February 21st, 2017

Philadelphia – The Liberty Bell

It could also be referred to as ”The Cracked Bell” after its wide, vertical crack which is actually the result of repair work; or ”The Silent Bell” for it has not rung in over 170 years – at least according to The Philadelphia Public Ledger‘s February 26, 1846 publication that records:

The old Independence Bell rang its last clear note on Monday last in honor of the birthday of Washington and now hangs in the great city steeple irreparably cracked and dumb. It had been cracked before but was set in order of that day by having the edges of the fracture filed so as not to vibrate against each other … It gave out clear notes and loud, and appeared to be in excellent condition until noon, when it received a sort of compound fracture in a zig-zag direction through one of its sides which put it completely out of tune and left it a mere wreck of what it was.

The ”mere wreck” has since become a national symbol of democracy, freedom and independence. Its inscription from the Old Testament (Leviticus 25:10) “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof” has inspired civil rights movements such as suffragists who commissioned a replica and called it the Justice Bell,  and abolitionists who gave it its current name – the Liberty Bell.

Removed from the bell tower of the building we know today as Independence Hall, it is on view in the Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historical Park.

Next stop: Congress Hall & Independence Hall

February 21st, 2017