The National Park Service is directed to to conserve park resources "unimpaired" for the enjoyment of future generations. Therefore, any activities that would cause derogation of or detract from the values and purposes for which a park has been established cannot be allowed.
Independence National Historical Park was established in June 1948 (Public Law 80-795) for the purposes of "preserving for the benefit of the American people as a national historical park certain historical structures and properties of outstanding national significant located in Philadelphia and associated with the American Revolution and the founding and growth of the United States."
Providing opportunities for appropriate public enjoyment is an important part of the National Park Service mission. Approval of any special uses of the park may be allowed if not otherwise prohibited by law or regulation. However, the National Park Service can only allow uses that are (1) appropriate to the purpose for which the park was established, and (2) can be sustained without causing unacceptable impacts.
However, the National Park Service can only allow uses that (1) have a meaningful association between the park area and the event, and (2) contribute to visitor understanding of the significance of the park area and, (3) a permit has therefore been issued by the Superintendent. (36 CFR 2.50)
Please keep these requirements in mind if you are considering a request for special use of resources at Independence National Historical Park.
Special Park Uses
A special park use is defined as an activity that takes place in a park area, and that
- provides a benefit to an individual, group or organization rather than the public at large;
- requires written authorization and some degree of management control from the National Park Service in order to protect park resources and the public interest;
- is not prohibited by law or regulation;
- is not initiated, sponsored, or conducted by the National Park Service; and
- is not managed under a concession contract, a recreation activity for which the NPS charges a fee, or a lease.
Costs and Process
Information provided on applications will be used to determine whether a permit will be issued. A completed application must be accompanied by an application fee in the form of cashiers check or money order made payable to Independence National Historical Park. Completed applications should be mailed to: Special Events Coordinator, Independence National Historical Park, 143 S. 3rd St. Philadelphia, PA 19106. You will be notified of the disposition of the application and the necessary steps to secure your final permit. Please allow fourteen (14) days for processing. For estimated costs, please consult the special event fee schedule.
Click here to see general permit conditions that may be imposed for Special Use Permits for Public Assemblies and Special Events. These include the following:
1. All signs and displays are to be attended at all times.
2. There is a height restriction of 15' imposed on Independence Mall.
3. Public address systems and sound amplification equipment shall not be allowed unless prior permission has been requested and approved on the application/permit.
4. No tent is allowed on site without the Superintendent's prior approval.
5, Commercial notices and advertisements may not be displayed, posted or distributed on park property.
6. Solicitation is not permitted.
It is important to remember that a permit is a legally binding document between the permitted applicant and the United States of America. Because of this, liability insurance is required with all special use permits.
Special Event/First Amendment Application
Follow the directions found in the form above (pdf file, Adobe Acrobat reader required), then mail the completed form to the park headquarters address. A non-refundable application fee is required. Additional administrative, location and/or cost recovery fees may also be charged.
First Amendment Requests and Applications
First Amendment activities such as public assemblies, meetings, gatherings, demonstrations, parades and other public expressions of views and opinions are managed and regulated under 36 CFR § 2.51, DO/RM-53 and the Independence National Historical Park Superintendent's Compendium. Activities associated with the exercise of these rights will be reasonably regulated to protect legitimate government interests. Therefore, the Superintendent may regulate such aspects of First Amendment activities as the time, place and manner where they are conducted in order to protect park resources. When the requested use is a right involving access to park land for the exercise of First Amendment rights including freedom of assembly, speech, religion and press, there will be no requirement for fees, cost recovery, bonding or insurance.
No permit shall be issued for a period in excess of 14 consecutive days, provided that permits may be extended for like periods, upon a new application, unless another applicant has requested use of the same location and multiple occupancy of that location is not reasonably possible.
Demonstrations involving 25 persons or fewer may be held without a permit provided that the other conditions required for the issuance of a permit are met and provided further that the group is not merely an extension of another group already availing itself of the 25-person maximum under this provision or will not unreasonably interfere with other demonstrations or special events. Individuals and small groups who take advantage of the permit exception may make use of hand-carried signs, but not stages, platforms, structures, or electronic public address systems. If you are unsure if your event will need a special use permit, please contact the park's Special Park Uses Coordinator:
- Special Park Uses Office
via e-mail us