Independence National Historical Park

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Philadelphia is Independence National Historical Park.  Celebrating both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, Independence National Historical Park is home to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and numerous other historic sites.  

Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were debated and signed, is the centerpiece of the park.  Built in 1753 as the Pennsylvania State House as part of the Colonial Capital, Independence Hall was home to the Second Continental Congress (Declaration of  Independence) and the Constitutional Convention.  

Statue of George Washington in front of Independence Hall

Tours of the building are free; however, the only way to see the interior is through a park guided tour.  The tour includes the Pennsylvania Assembly Hall which is where both the Declaration and the Constitution were signed.

The Pennsylvania Assembly Hall where the Declaration of Independence was debated and signed.

Additionally, the tour also includes what was once the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Guided tours begin about every 15 minutes.  Typically a timed ticket is required for the tour; though it is not always necessary.

Chamber of the House of Representative - Congress Hall

Adjacent to the west of Independence Hall is Congress Hall.  This two story building held both houses of the United States Congress from 1790 to 1800.  The bottom floor was home to the House of Representatives and is restored to how the chamber looked in 1796.  Tours of Congress Hall begin in the House Chamber where visitors sit in the same chamber that the Bill of Rights were ratified and George Washington's second presidential inauguration occurred.

Senate Chambers - Congress Hall

The tour continues to the second floor which was home to the Senate.  Of the 32 secretary desks - similar in design of the same desks located in the modern Senate chamber in Washington - 28 are original. 

One of the highlights of any visit to Independence National Historical Park is the Liberty Bell.  Located inside the Liberty Bell Center.  The bell was originally hung at the State House (Independence Hall) in 1753 and rang to summon Pennsylvania Assemblymen into session.  

Though it is unknown the cause and date of its famous crack, it is believed to have occurred sometime in the early 19th century.  The bell became a symbol of freedom and for much of the late 1800s traveled throughout the country for various celebrations and exhibits.  This lasted until 1915 as a result of continual damage to the bell.

For nearly a century, 1898 through 1975 - the Liberty Bell was housed on display inside Independence Hall.  In preparation for the nation's bicentennial in 1976, the Liberty Bell moved to a separate building the Liberty Bell Pavilion.  The steel-and-glass structure sat about 200 yards north of Independence Hall.

In 2003, the Bell moved again.  A new larger Liberty Bell Center was constructed to the immediate west of the former pavilion.   Typically a timed ticket is needed to enter the Liberty Bell Center.  However, it is not always required.  A small security screen is necessary prior to viewing the Liberty Bell exhibit.

All photos taken by post author - June 19, 2010.

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