There is an overwhelming sense of patriotism that takes hold when you explore Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. This is where the United States was born - where the Declaration of Independence was created and the Constitution was signed. We began our day with the most recognized symbol of America's quest for freedom, the Liberty Bell
The 2,080 pound State House bell was hung in the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in 1753 to summon the State Assembly to work. It wasn't until the 1830's that abolitionists wishing to end slavery named it the Liberty Bell. The infamous crack happened around 1846 - no one knows exactly how or why, but the message of freedom still rings out loud and clear.
Our next stop, Independence Hall. This was originally the Pennsylvania State House, but from 1790 to 1800 it served as the US Supreme Court, the US Congress and the Assembly Room where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were created.
1776 - the year of Independence, but about that July 4th date...
Trying to squeeze as much into one day as possible, we walked north on 5th Street to the US Mint for a self guided tour to see how coins are made. These coins are pressed so fast - 12 per second, 750 each minute - that so far this year more than 6 billion coins have been made at this facility! There are no pictures allowed in the coin press area, but nobody said anything about the gift shop!!
All this walking/touring gave us quite an appetite! We decided to check out Reading Terminal Market for lunch. With over 75 vendors, and every ethnic food you could imagine, the choices were overwhelming - but what a way to calm those hunger pangs!
We still had a couple hours until closing time for most historic sites, so tummies full, we forged ahead! The Declaration house (rebuilt in 1975) is where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776!
There's so much Benjamin Franklin history here, we had to take in Franklin Court and the Market St. houses. Benjamin Franklin owned a large house in the courtyard behind several homes on Market Street. Today, you can only see a "ghost house" or frame of where his home stood, as well as a lower level kitchen floor that was discovered and protected.
Our last stop - the oldest homes I've ever seen on American soil! Elfreth's Alley is known as our nation's "Oldest residential street" dating back to 1702! There are over 30 homes on this narrow stretch of road, most still occupied!
Tomorrow we say goodbye to the City of Brotherly Love, and hello to the Big Apple!