Lava flows to the sea at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (left) photograph courtesy of the National Park Service. Spectacular view of Many Glaciers Hotel at Glacier National Park, part of Waterton Glacier International Peace Park (right) photograph courtesy of the National Park Service.
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
World Heritage Sites in the United States

Independence Hall
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Independence Hall. Photograph by Robin Miller, courtesy of the National Park Service.Independence Hall is part of Independence National
Historical Park in Philadelphia, PA.
Photograph by Robin Miller, courtesy of the National Park Service

For Americans, indeed for people around the world, there is no more potent symbol of individual freedom than Independence Hall. This World Heritage Site is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the dream of a free country of independent citizens became fact.

This place witnessed events that gave birth to a system of self governance that remains a model for many around the world. While the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were devised to serve national ends, they continue to endure and give voice to universal principles that eloquently express mankind's aspirations for justice and freedom. The principles expressed in these documents have enlightened and inspired political thinkers in many parts of the world for over two centuries.

Independence Hall signifies many things to many people. The events that took place here two centuries ago, and the buildings and objects associated with them, are what attract visitors from every state in the Union and almost every country around the globe.  This place reminds all who visit that the formation of this nation was the work of men, imperfect like themselves, who transcended their faults and foibles to create an enduring democracy, the oldest in the world and a model for free men everywhere.

Independence Hall was designed by Andrew Hamilton and master building Edmund Wooley to house the colonial Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Finished in 1753, the building is a modest brick structure with a steeple that was intended to hold a 2,080lb bell. The Liberty Bell, as it is now called, however, has cracked twice and stands silently on the ground in a special shelter. The bell hanging in the tower today was presented to the City of Philadelphia in honor of America's Centennial. The building has undergone many restorations, notably by Greek Revival architect John Haviland in 1830, and by a committee from the National Park Service in 1950 that worked to return the building to its 1776 appearance. Independence Hall is not designated a World Heritage Site for its architectural design but for the documents of fundamental importance to American history drafted and debated here within its spaces, which formed the democracy of the United States.

Independence Hall's Assembly Room, photograph courtesy of Independence National Historical Park.The Assembly Room inside Independence Hall.
Courtesy Independence National Historical Park

Located in downtown Philadelphia, Independence National Historical Park interprets the events and lives of the diverse Philadelphia population during the years when the city was the capital of the United States, from 1790 to 1800. A section of the park, where Benjamin Franklin's home once stood, is dedicated to teaching about his life and accomplishments. About 20 buildings -- historic, reconstructed and modern -- are open to the public. Places to visit include Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin's home, and Congress Hall, where the Bill of Rights was adopted and John Adams was inaugurated the nation's second president in a peaceful transfer of power.

The park's impressive visitor center contains information about local historic resources, a large theater, and a gift shop. From there, visitors can explore the national park's 55 acres in the City of Brotherly Love and discover the places where American independence was first declared, including Independence Hall.

Plan your visit

Independence Hall is a World Heritage Site and unit of the National Park System located at 520 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA. Click here for the National Register of Historic Places registration file: text and photos.  Independence Hall is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm, and open until 7:00pm. from June 28 - September 1. The security screening area closes 15 minutes prior to the building closure time (no entry after 4:45pm or 6:45pm, depending on the season). Begin your visit at the Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market Sts by viewing the Independence film. A parking garage for visitors is under the center on 6th St. between Arch and Market Sts.  The center opens every day at 8:30am. For current details and admission information on park buildings, visit the National Park Service Independence National Historical Park website, or call 215-965-2305.

Independence Hall is also featured in the National Park Service American Presidents Travel Itinerary and Places Reflecting America's Diverse Cultures Travel Itinerary. Independence Hall is the subject of an online lesson plan Independence Hall: International Symbol of Freedom. The lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service’s Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places website. Independence Hall has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

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