AS YOU STROLL through Independence National Historical Park you will find the scene much as it was during those decisive days when our Nation was born two centuries ago.
Though the principals have long departed, reminders of them linger. George Washington seems to peer at the visitor from his portrait in the Second Bank of the United States. You may observe where John Adams argued the patriot cause in the Assembly Room at Independence Hall. You, too, may walk through the arched carriageway from Market Street that led Benjamin Franklin to his courtyard home.
Here in Philadelphia, America's Revolutionary leaders against long odds and with great courage founded a new nation and guided it through its formative years. Within these brick buildings, aggrieved colonists coordinated their opposition to the English king. Their protest against taxation turned into a cry for liberty, then resolved into a brash assertion of "independency." Here the delegates of 13 states knit a federal system of legislative, executive, and judicial functions, a fabric of government that remains resilient under new challenges today.
Visitor Center (1975) National Park Service employees will help you plan your tour of the park, informing you of exhibits, audiovisual programs, special events, informative signs and publications that add dimensions to a park visit. An area map (right) defines self-guiding tours. Displays of 18th Century scenes and artifacts add perspective to America's most historic buildings.
Liberty Bell Pavilion (1975) The Liberty Bell, cherished symbol of freedom to Americans and to people of other lands, is on view in a glass-sided pavilion. The 2080 pound bell was ordered for the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) to commemorate founder William Penn's Charter of Privileges. Twice recast, the bell pealed on July 8, 1776, to proclaim the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. When it cracked 80 years later, it was removed from active service.
Carpenter's Hall (1774) Built by the Carpenters' Company, a craftsmen's guild. First Continental Congress met here.
New Hall (1790; reconstruction 1957). A "new hall" of the Carpenters' Company. It now houses a U.S. Marine Corps Museum.
Pemberton House (1775; reconstruction 1965). Once the Chestnut Street home of Quaker merchant Joseph Pemberton, it contains the Army-Navy Museum.
Philosophical Hall (1789) This building has served continuously has headquarters for the oldest society of learned men in the United States; founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin.
Library Hall (1790; reconstruction 1959) This was the home of the Library Company of Philadelphia founded in 1731 by Franklin. The hall contains the library of the American Philosophical Society.
First Bank of the U.S. (1797; restoration 1975) The oldest bank building in the Nation. It brought centralized banking to the Republic.
Philadelphia Exchange (1834; restoration 1968). Built as a center of commerce when merchant's trading activities outgrew City Tavern.
Second Bank of the U.S. (1824; restoration 1974) Successor to the First Bank as the center of Federal banking. It serves as a portrait gallery (below), displaying an outstanding collection of portraits, prints and documents of the Revolutionary era.
Free Quaker Meetinghouse (1783) Typical Quaker plainness marks this house of worship of the Free Quakers. Caught between religious principles that forbade settling arguments by force, and a feeling America was being wronged, the Free Quakers broke with the Society of Friends.
Christ Church (1727-1744) A number of leaders of the Revolution prayed for guidance at Christ Church. Seven signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried in its churchyard or in the cemetery at Fifth and Arch Streets. The 200-foot steeple was completed in 1754, after funds were raised by a lottery initiated by the enterprising Ben Franklin.
Independence Hall (1732-1756; restoration 1970) Centerpiece of the park, Independence Hall echoes the heartbeat of history. Designed as the center structure of a government complex for the Province of Pennsylvania, became the showplace of colonial Philadelphia. Later, it served the Second Continental Congress (1775-1783) and the Federal Convention of 1787.
Assembly Room This chamber is one of the most historic rooms in America. Here the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. In 1787 the Federal Convention framed the Constitution of the United States.
Supreme Court Chamber of Pennsylvania Judges in white wigs and scarlet robes peered down from the high bench to sentence law breakers or set them free. Townspeople, watching justice at work, groaned or applauded each decision.
Independence Hall (front facade) With Philadelphia as the federal capital, the new Nation put its principles to test in these buildings. At left is Old City Hall (1791; restoration 1975); U.S. Supreme Court met here. Congress Hall, on the right (1787; restoration 1967); was the meeting place of U.S. Congress.
House of Representatives' Chamber The "lower house" met on the first floor. Here in 1797 John Adams took the oath of office as President, in the Nation's first transfer of executive power.
Senate Chamber For 10 years the U.S. Senate occupied the second floor of Congress Hall. During this period three states were added to the original 13.
Todd House (1775; restoration 1961) The home of John, Jr., and Dolley Todd from 1741-1743. She later became the wife of James Madison, the future President.
Bishop White House (1787; restoration 1966) The home of the Reverend William White, the first Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Pennsylvania.
Franklin Court (1763-1787; restored and reconstructed, 1976) Five Market Street houses, three once owned by Benjamin Franklin, have been adaptively restored. Within Franklin Court (right) stands the outline of Franklin's house; beneath the courtyard, an underground museum depicts Franklin's accomplishments.
Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial (1776; restoration 1976) The Polish military engineer who designed important fortifications during the Revolutionary War boarded here in 1797-1798.
Deshler-Morris House (1752; restoration 1976) President Washington and family occupied this Georgian-style home in Germantown during the summers of 1793 and 1794.
Graff House (1775; reconstruction 1975) Thomas Jefferson of Virginia drafted the Declaration of Independence in the second floor parlor of this house built by bricklayer Jacob Graff, Jr.
Colonial Garden A formal garden such as this one on Walnut Street provided 18th Century Philadelphians a green space between closely set houses.
City Tavern (1773; reconstruction 1975) Debates at the Continental Congresses often spilled over into City Tavern, the "most genteel" tavern in Philadelphia. Visitors may enjoy 18th Century meals in surroundings of the period.
Last Updated: 20-Aug-2010