I'm drawn to cultural treasures in every city I visit, and want to share the same when friends visit me! In Philadelphia, that means a trip the Ben Franklin Parkway is required. The Parkway itself (and nearby) is marketed as the "Parkway Museums District," so look for those signs. A great site for info before you arrive: parkwaymuseumsdistrict.org. I found maps, tips for families, walking and biking tours, and a discount coupon for the museums. Gotta love coupons!
Fondest memory: I've always loved the whole vibe of Philadelphia. It's a lively place, with so much to do - solo, as a couple, with friends or kids. (Sounds like a commercial, but I truly feel that way!)
Philadelphia is the fifth-largest city in the US and the second-largest on the East Coast.
Famous people call it "home-town" including Bill Cosby and Princess Grace of Monaco (Grace Kelly), as well as Will Smith.
It was founded in 1682 by William Penn, and English Quaker. King Charles II granted him a parcel of land that included 1,280 acres between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. For William Penn, this was the beginning of a new colony based on religious freedom.
Philadelphia's history from 1774-1800 is linked to the American Revolution. You'll find many references in especially the Old Town District of Philadelphia to this war toward America's independence from England. (By the way, it is interesting to note that the English call this war the "War of the Rebellion")
Favorite thing: As with all cities that have stood for centuries, Philadelphia offers artefacts and historical novelties for anyone with eyes to explore. Like the sentry booths that are often ignored in Washington DC, Philly everywhere is dotted with signs of the past. Cobblestone lanes, red-brick facades, markings and placards in the walls where the famous once lived, all these and more excite the curiosity of the visitor. Places where coaches only roamed still exist. Stone streets with a concave center that allows runoff (such as Elfreth's Alley) are symptoms of past living conditions and city sanitation. If Pompeii still boasts is chariot ruts in the city streets, Philly can boast of its carriage roads.
We found Philadelphia to be a great city, surprisingly quiet and not filled with traffic. Maybe it was just the weekend we visited, or the fact that we are used to heading into New York when visiting "the city", but it was very relaxed.
Another wonderful thing about Philly is that is it filled with art. Everywhere you look it seems, there is a mural or a sculpture.
I think Philadelphia's historic sites make it unique. It's a city for walking, learning and eating! You can easily see the entire downtown area in a few days. There are two major art museums, plus one for Rodin with the biggest collection of his work outside Paris. The Franklin Institute is a science museum old Ben would be proud of.
Fondest memory: I always miss the delicious cheesesteak sandwiches or hoagies. Try Jim's on South Street, Pat's or Gino's. For hoagies, it's Lee's Hoagie House. They're all over the city.
Favorite thing: You might have had grinders, hoagies, or submarine sandwiches.....but in Philadelphia, you must have a Philly Cheese Steak. Served in a semi hard roll with oodles of calories and other delicious things....this is the spot to find the best. This is "Jim's" which they say serve THE BEST Cheese steak sandwiches in town.
(Continuation from last tip - History)
Those Who Fought:
The American Revolution was both a civil war within British North America &, by 1778, part of a world war involving European powers. The British fought the war with an army of professional soldiers, lifetime recruits who were subject to strict military discipline. They also employed soldiers from German states & a large number of loyalists, American supporters of British rule who formed their own military units & fought against patriot forces.
The patriots, those favored independence, developed their own Continental Army, which consisted initially of New England militiamen besieging the British in Boston & then of soldiers supplied by various colonies. They also relied on local militia units, whose members served for short terms, and partisan forces, especially in the South.
The Marquis de Lafayette, Friedrich W.A. von Steuben, & other European officers made significant contributions to the patriot cause, as did French soldiers & sailors after 1778, especially in helping Washington's army trap Lord Cornwallis's large British force at Yorktown in 1781.
With an overall goal of slowing the advance of white settlement, American Indians were divided in their loyalties. Depending on local conditions, they joined the side they thought would favor their interests. Although Southerners opposed their use, some 5000 African Americans fought side by side with whites for the patriot cause & their own freedom; tens of thousands more enslaved African Americans sought freedom with the British forces.
Fondest memory: Consequences:
The end of the Revolutionary War brought independence for 13 American states.
Between 1776 & 1780, states wrote new constitutions or changed old charters to become republics. When the alliance of the states under the Articles of Confederation proved inadequate, a convention in 1787 produced the Constitution, which remains U.S. governmental framework.
The Constitution settled many issues & formed a stronger union of the states, but it also contained contradictions that would echo through history.
The Declaration of Independence's promise of human equality was at first narrowly applied, & the Constitution failed to end African-American slavery. In the English speaking world of 1787, few entertained the possibility that women possessed equal political or economic rights.
Much of American history after 1776 represents a struggle to extend full citizenship to white males without property, to people of color, and to women. For Indians, the formation of the United States only increased the flow of white settlers onto their lands & led to more clashes. An acknowledgment of the Revolution's deferred promises, however, should not blind us to its far-reaching effects.
In 1776 no other nation had a republican form of government, with all its powers grounded in the consent of the people.
Later revolutions in France, Hispaniola (now Haiti), & throughout Latin America drew inspiration from the American Revolution.
Once adopted by the United States, the ideals of liberty & self-government would have future effects never imagined by the original revolutionaries.
Revolutionary War Timeline - Official Site: NPS.gov.
Favorite thing: The local street venders have these little boxes that they stuff with as much as they can from smokes to mags, to candy and soda. So if you want a quick snack or something stop by one of these little shops, but be prepared to pay 7-11 prices!
Philly Fun Guide:
This is a helpful website to visit before you leave for Philadelphia. They have a very comprehensive list of activities for the Philadelphia region.
Official Philadelphia Tourism Website:
When doing the Independance sights in central Philly as a Brit, you almost get the feeling that the War of Independance has only just finished. Everything is about Britain being the enemy. Thankfully that doesn't apply to most of the people who live here.
And it's still a fascinating trip thru US history.
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