Military History at Independence Park

Color photo of statue of George Washington on plinth in front of tomb and eternal flame.  Behind Washington is a wall with text reading "Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness."
Military history is interwoven into the park's stories of independence and nation building. Whether you are interested in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution or the modern-day reenlistments in front of the Liberty Bell, there is much to explore.  Use this itinerary to learn more, and don't forget to check out the British Occupation of Philadelphia audio tour in our FREE mobile app.

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Independence Visitor Center
6th and Market Streets

Start at the Independence Visitor Center. The building opens at 8:30am daily. Pick up a paper map, and ask the park ranger if any Tun Tavern brochures are available. Don't forget to get Independence Hall tour tickets (March through December). Not sure which building is the Independence Visitor Center? Check out these photos.


Liberty Bell Center
6th and Market Streets (across from the visitor center)

The Liberty Bell bears a biblical quote: "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." Cast to be the State House bell, abolitionists named it the Liberty Bell in the 1830's. During World War II, the mayor of Philadelphia tapped the Liberty Bell seven times, each tap representing a letter in the word "Liberty." Listen to the sound of liberty (broadcast courtesy WIP CBS Radio). Explore the Liberty Bell Center photos.

  • Did You Know...
    Many active duty and reservist military members choose to have their reenlistment, Chief or Officer commission, and retirement ceremonies in the Liberty Bell Center.

Independence Hall
Enter through the security screening area at 5th and Chestnut Streets
Entrance is by tour only. Pick up your free timed tickets (March through December) at the Independence Visitor Center on the morning of your visit. Tickets are limited in quantity.

Independence Hall is not only where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed, but is also the site where the Continental Congress authorized the Continental Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. On the north side of Independence Hall, look for the statue of George Washington. General Washington accepted the commission of Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army inside Independence Hall. On the south side of Independence Hall, you'll find two Civil War era cannons in an unusual position. See photos of Independence Hall.

  • Did You Know...
    During the Civil War, over a dozen fallen Union Army officers lay in state in the Assembly Room of Independence Hall. The highest ranking was Major General Charles F. Smith.

Great Essentials Exhibit in the West Wing
Enter through security screening at 5th and Chestnut Streets

See the Dunlap broadside of the Declaration of Independence. Colonel John Nixon of the Pennsylvania militia first read the Declaration out to the public on July 8th in 1776. Also on display is a final draft copy of the U.S. Constitution once owned by George Washington. To this day, military members swear to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution when they take their oath (both enlisted and officers). Here are photos from the Great Essentials exhibit.


Washington Square
6th and Walnut Streets

Originally called Southeast Square, it was renamed in 1825 in honor of General George Washington. This is the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution. Look for the eternal flame, burning in honor of the fallen troops. Check out these photos of Washington Square.


New Hall Military Museum
Chestnut Street between 3rd and 4th Streets

Home to the War Department in the 1790's, this building now houses exhibits about the Continental Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. See photos of New Hall Military Museum.

  • Did You Know...
    The sculpture on the first floor was designed by Felix de Weldon who also designed the Iwo Jima Memorial.

More to Explore

  • Congress Hall, enter through security at 5th and Chestnut Sts.
    This is where the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps were reestablished in the 1790's.
  • John Barry Statue on Independence Square, enter from 5th or 6th Streets between Chestnut and Walnut Sts.
    See the statue of the first Commodore of the U.S. Navy (not accessible for those with mobility challenges)
  • Tun Tavern Historical Marker, on Front near Chestnut St.
    According to tradition, Captain Samuel Nicholas enlisted the first two battalions of Marines near this spot.
  • Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, 3rd and Pine Sts.
    Polish patriot and military engineer General Thaddeus Kosciuszko contributed to the success of the American Revolution. He lived here briefly in the 1790's.

Last updated: August 31, 2016

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143 S. 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106


(215) 965-2305

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