by Toni Whaley
From the Editor: Toni Whaley is a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania who has been doing some research in preparation for our arrival in Philadelphia. Quoted material in the article is taken from the National Park Service Web site. You can find more information at <http://www.nps.gov/inde/visit.html>.
As you read this article, keep these directional cues in mind:
· Unnumbered streets run east-west; some are one-way.
· All numbered streets run north-south, and their numbers increase as you proceed west.
· Between Second and Thirteenth Streets traffic travels south on all even-numbered streets and north on odd-numbered ones.
· Odd-numbered addresses are on the east side of numbered streets and the north side of unnumbered ones.
Market Street is a north-south marker. Thus, 13 N. Fourth Street is north of Market, and 13 S. Fourth Street is south of Market. Now learn something about sight-seeing opportunities just around the corner from the Philadelphia Marriott:
When you arrive at the Philadelphia Marriott Hotel in July, you will be not only in the center of convention action but also in the center of Philadelphia and USA history. In 1776 the Founding Fathers gathered only a few blocks from our hotel to debate the wisdom of separating from England, to write the “Declaration of Independence,” and to proclaim that independence publicly. Then eleven years later these gentlemen reconvened in Philadelphia to debate and write our “Constitution.” The area now called Independence Historical National Park is where these events took place.
Independence Historical National Park is operated by the National Park Service (NPS). The park contains approximately twenty buildings, which are open to the public. Most of these are located in an area of Center City Philadelphia bounded by Arch Street on the north, Second Street on the east, Spruce Street on the south, and Ninth Street on the west. Space does not permit a discussion of each of them. This article focuses on some of the buildings usually associated with the struggle for independence. We hope the article will kindle a desire to come to Philadelphia and encounter history.
(500-block of Chestnut Street)
Begin your encounter with history at Independence Hall. According to information on the NPS Web site, "Tours are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Tours begin in the East Wing of Independence Hall every fifteen minutes between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. daily." There is no charge for these tours, and no tickets are needed. You can then visit the West Wing of Independence Hall to see the Great Essentials Exhibit.
Liberty Bell Pavilion
(500-block of Market Street)
View a ten-minute film to learn about the history of the Liberty Bell and the myths surrounding it. The Liberty Bell, according to the film, "is perhaps the most celebrated and misunderstood bell in the world. From its beginnings in the Pennsylvania State House through its christening as the Liberty Bell by the abolitionists in the nineteenth century, [the Liberty Bell] has continued to inspire and remain relevant as a modern symbol of freedom."
Franklin Court Museum
(300-block of Market Street, also accessible from Chestnut Street)
This is a unique site. At street level you see a steel ghost structure outlining the spot where Benjamin Franklin's house once stood. You'll also see "restorations of five buildings, three of which Franklin had built shortly after his return from France to be used as rental properties. These buildings contain an eighteenth-century printing office, an architectural/archaeological exhibit, an operating post office, and a postal museum. Exhibits are open year round, though hours vary by season."
The museum itself is underground. It contains displays, interactive exhibits, and a twenty-two-minute film entitled "The Real Ben Franklin."
If you are at the museum around 3:30 p.m., you can also view a ten-minute film. You will learn about "Franklin's Glass Music" and "hear a demonstration of the sound that captured the imagination of a generation," the Glass Harmonica. "Mozart and Beethoven composed for it, and Marie Antoinette was a student of the fashionable instrument."
(southwest corner of Seventh and Market Streets)
Thomas Jefferson lived in this house during June and July of 1776. It was here he penned the “Declaration of Independence.” A film about his stay in Philadelphia is shown at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
(Second and Walnut Streets)
Finally, encounter history and get a good meal at the same time at City Tavern. The building is a reconstruction of the one that stood on this site in 1776. It is an eighteenth century style tavern. Lunch and dinner are served there daily.
We in the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia this summer. While you are here, we invite you to encounter history and learn more about the issues and events that brought about the birth of a nation and about the individuals who guided it during its infancy.