History buffs are very much in love with Philadelphia and for good reasons. Philadelphia is the city where the founding fathers set the stage for a new nation called the United States of America in the 1770’s. The city also served as the capital of the brand new nation for ten years from 1790 to 1800. Here are the things to do in Philadelphia, PA for learning about the founding of America and the city’s role as the nation’s capital.
Independence Hall is located on Chestnut Street between 5th and 6th Streets. It is located within the lovely Independence National Historical Park which is in the east part of Philadelphia’s famed Center City. Independence Hall is the very building that gave birth to the newly independent country that we know today as the United States of America.
This is the very building where the iconic Declaration of Independence was drafted, debated, and signed. The Declaration of Independence was the document that was used to declare America’s independence from Britain. The document was the product of the American Revolutionary War in which Americans fought against colonial rule by Britain.
The document was drafted by the Committee of Five which included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman. That makes them the founding fathers of the country. The document was signed by the Second Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776, effectively approving America’s independence.
The Declaration of Independence is not the only document that was adopted at Independence Hall. In fact, this is also the building where the country’s constitution was adopted. The constitution is the supreme law of the land. It serves as the foundation on which the US operates as a country. The constitution was ratified on June 21st, 1788 and went into effect on March 4th, 1789.
Independence Hall is designed in the Georgian architectural style. It is know for its red brick facade with a bell tower and steeple. In addition to visiting Independence Hall, you will want to make sure to see the Liberty Bell which is just across Chestnut Street within Independence National Historical Park. The Liberty Bell serves as an iconic symbol of American independence.
Congress Hall is located just to the west of Independence Hall within Independence National Historical Park. Before there was the US Capitol in Washington, DC, there was Congress Hall. It served as the seat of the US Congress for the ten years that Philadelphia was the nation’s capital. The chamber for the US House of Representatives was located on the first floor.
The US Senate’s chamber was located on the second floor of the building. Congress Hall housed 106 US Representatives and 32 US Senators from 16 states. The House chamber featured mahogany desks and leather chairs. The chamber of the Senate featured heave red drapes and secretary desks.
The second inauguration of George Washington as well as the first and only inauguration of John Adams, the first and second US presidents respectively, took place in the House chamber within Congress Hall. Three states were admitted into the US by Congress during their time at Congress Hall. They were Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Congress Hall was where the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified by Congress. Congress also established the First Bank of the US, the Federal Mint, and the US Navy during that time period. A treaty establishing temporary peace with Britain was also ratified at Congress Hall.
As is the case with Independence Hall next door, Congress Hall is also renowned for its red brick facade. What makes Congress Hall stand out from its neighbor is that it is designed in the Federal architectural style.
Old City Hall
Old City Hall is Independence Hall’s neighbor to the east within Independence National Historical Park. It housed the US Supreme Court in Philadelphia around the same time that Congress Hall was used by Congress. The US Supreme Court had three chief justices during that time period who officiated from Old City Hall.
These three chief justices were John Jay, John Rutledge, and Oliver Ellsworth. There were a total of six justices at any given time in the Supreme Court during the Old City Hall era. The first six justices were all appointed by George Washington, the country’s first president.
The Old City Hall building is largely identical in appearance to Congress Hall. Most of the furnishings within the building are from the 1790’s which is when the Supreme Court occupied the building. The original room in the building where the Supreme Court met, is preserved as well. Also, the building houses a gift shop for you to browse.
These are the attractions that you will want to check out for things to do in Philadelphia, PA for learning about the establishment of America as an independent country and the city’s role in being the nation’s capital. The best news about visiting these historic attractions is that they are all free for everybody.
Also, I want to point out that when Philadelphia was the capital of the US, former presidents George Washington and John Adams lived in the President’s House which was located about one block from Independence Hall. Unfortunately, it is no longer there, however, there is a memorial dedicated to the President’s House with remains including red brick walls and a foundation for the kitchen.
If you would like to also take a little road trip, Philadelphia is very close to Wilmington in the neighboring US state of Delaware. Wilmington is renowned for being home to a few breathtaking estates that once belonged to the prominent du Pont family. I have got you covered on them here.
If you are looking for a place to stay overnight at during your time in Philadelphia, I have got your back. Here are the two hotels I would suggest for you.
The Windsor Suites
This is an all-suite lifestyle hotel located on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City Philadelphia. It is around 1.4 miles west of Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and Old City Hall. This hotel contains two onsite restaurants: Con Murphy’s and Asia on the Parkway. There is an outdoor swimming pool and terrance on the hotel’s rooftop, offering nice views for you to enjoy.
If you are looking for a place to workout, there is a fitness center available at the hotel. The hotel’s suites contain at least 450 square feet of living and dining space. They come with full kitchens and balconies with nice views of the bustling Center City streets. The suites are designed to allow you to experience an urban lifestyle. WiFi is also offered in all of the suites.
The average rate for a standard room range from $151 to $437. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.
DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia Center City
This hotel is located on the prestigious Broad Street in the heart of Center City. All of the three attractions I mentioned earlier are around 20 minutes walk to the east on Chestnut Street which will take you to the lovely Independence National Historical Park. The hotel houses two onsite restaurants/bars. They are Breakfast on the Balcony and Standing O.
As a treat for staying at this hotel, you will receive a warm, chocolate chip cookie for free. There is an indoor, heated swimming pool on the hotel’s rooftop with an attached sundeck for stunning Center City views. A fitness center is also available at the hotel for your workout needs. All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, coffee makers, and mini refrigerators.
You can also look forward to having cool views of the bustling Center City scene from your hotel room. The average rate for a standard room range from $155 to $333. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.
What are your thoughts? Are you fascinated with Philadelphia’s role as the birthplace and capital of the US? Feel free to leave a comment below.