A diary of my visit to two cities in the center of the founding of my country: Boston and Philadelphia Oct. 14 - 24, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

October 20 - The Signings

This morning started with a delicious little breakfast. In Boston, I always left the Inn before breakfast, since I wanted to be downtown by 8:00. Here, since I’m already in the middle of everything, I have time to eat a little. I had a nice fresh muffin, yogurt, and a great cup of coffee. I was ready for the day!

I started by walking to the Independence Hall Visitor’s Center. I had to buy tickets for a tour to Independence Hall. You have to get there early, because they sell out for the day by noon, usually. I wanted to make sure to get afternoon tickets, for schedule purposes, so I was in line at 8:30 when they opened. The closest time I could get to my 1:30 schedule was 1:45, which was pretty good. So, I picked up the tickets and went for a walk. First stop was Benjamin Franklin’s grave in Christ Church burial ground. The cemetery wasn’t open yet, but his grave is right by the sidewalk, so you don’t need to enter. After the cemetery, I walked the three blocks to Christ Church. Christ Church was the first Episcopalian Church in America, but it was still Anglican during the Revolution. Many of the signers attended church here. George Washington’s pew is marked (I sat in it!), as well as the pews of Benjamin Franklin and several others. The font where William Penn was baptized in London was brought to this church. Bishop White was the first Bishop of this church.

After the church, I walked a few more blocks to a street with several colonial homes, including the Todd House, where Dolly Madison lived when she was Dolly Todd, and the house of Bishop White. I took a tour of the Todd and White houses. The Todd house was first. It was actually a recreation of the house, not the original building. It was decorated as it had been, with furniture from the period. Dolly’s first husband died of yellow fever. It was after that that she met James Madison in this house. They were married a year later. She served as first lady when James Madison was President, but she also served as First Lady during Jefferson’s presidency, since Jefferson’s wife had already died.

The Bishop house is still the original building and rooms, with much of the original furniture. The Bishop house is an example of one of the more wealthy houses of Philadelphia. My favorite part of the house was the library (surprise, surprise). They also have a real indoor bathroom!

After the two houses, I walked across the street to the Polish Heritage Museum to check out my ancestor’s role in history. They had information on Poland’s constitution which was put into place a few years after ours. They also had tributes to various Polish citizens who impacted history, such as Marie Curie, Gen. Kosciuszko, and Pope John Paul II.

I still had some time to kill before my 1:45 tickets for Independence Hall, so I went by Carpenter’s Hall. That was fitting, since the first Continental Congress met there for a few months before they moved to Independence Hall. They have several chairs there that were used during the first Continental Congress, including the President’s chair in which Alexander Hamilton sat.

By the time I finished with Carpenter’s Hall, I was pretty hungry. Since I still had about a half hour before I needed to get in line for Independence Hall, I stopped for a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Mmmmm. It was pretty cold today, so it was a good time for chicken noodle. I think I’m over the whole “skip lunch” plan. I think I may need a little food energy. Haha.

Believe it or not, the line to get through security for Independence Hall was the first real line I’ve had to stand in this whole trip!!! It was a doozy. There were at last three school groups in front of me. It took about a half hour to get through. After you get through security, you walk through the pavilion that houses the Liberty Bell. They have a long walkway with exhibits on the history of the bell and its repairs, and the bell is at the end of the hall. There were so many kids that I didn’t stop at the bell for very long. You can see it from the street, so I decided to wait until later.

I walked over to Independence Hall and the ranger asked me if I was on the 1:30 tour. I told him I was on the 1:45. He said that they had an opening on the 1:30, so I was able to go on that one. It is a good thing too, as you will read in a minute. The tour of Independence Hall was great. It wasn’t very long, but it included the room where the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution were debated and signed. It is incredible to be in the place where so much was decided. After the tour of the central portion of Hall, I went to the West Wing of the Hall where original copies of all three documents (Declaration, Articles of Confederation and Constitution) are on display. They are not the signed copies, but they were original copies printed for distribution. One copy was Washington’s and has his written corrections on it.

As I was looking at the documents, another exiting thing happened…a bomb threat!! Yes, the entire park had to be quickly evacuated. Two days of evacuations in a row….how strange. I promise I didn’t have anything to do with either one. As I was evacuated, I found myself at the border of Washington Square, so I thought I’d be spontaneous and explore. There is a tomb for the unknown soldiers of the Revolutionary War in the park.

By the time I took pictures of the monument, the park was back open. I had to go through security AGAIN, but there were no school groups in front of me this time, so it was quick. I went for a tour of Congress Hall, which is the building where Congress met for the first 10 years. In that Hall, both Washington and Adams were inaugurated. The inauguration of Adams is particularly significant, as it is the first time in modern western history that power was transferred from one person to another through an election process in such a peaceful manner.

On the other side of the park is Old City Hall, where the Supreme Court met while Philadelphia was our Capitol.

All of that wore me out, so I decided to make my way back to my room, even though it was still only 4:00. I had a night tour scheduled, so I wanted to rest my feet for a few minutes. I passed the Second Bank of the United States on the way, though, so I stopped to visit their portrait gallery. They have a collection of portraits of many who were instrumental in the founding of the United States, as well as prominent citizens of the state of Pennsylvania. Most of the portraits were done by Peale.

After the Second Bank, I had dinner…a Philly Cheesesteak! It was better than I was expecting.

I rested for a while and then went to a night tour called Lights of Liberty. It was a great tour. They give you headphones and you walk through various places in Independence Park as they tell you the stories of the Revolution. They project images on walls of the buildings to further dramatize the events. It is unique, interesting, and more in depth than a lot of tours. I would highly recommend it.

Well, I’m back in my room and ready for bed! Tomorrow night will be another late one, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post. I’ll try, though!

Oh yeah, did I mention my step count for today was 21,179? Not bad!


Blogger Christopher said...

Yeah, those bomb threats tend to be very "exiting"!

I was just joking when I told Joe to call it in. It never occured to me that he would actually DO it.

10/21/2005 1:15 PM  
Anonymous darlene said...

Whew! I love your blog Katie! I'm learning all kinds of things I'm sure I never learned in school. I'm beat & haven't even walked one step in the last hour, but I have this mysterious craving for Dunkin' Donuts...

10/22/2005 2:00 PM  
Anonymous frank said...

will you be posting a sumfrankmary

11/07/2005 8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katie: I am a freelance writer doing an article on historic trips to east coast cities and would like to interview you about your trip. If you are willing , would you please e-mail me at mypen4hire at yahoo.com? I'll be happy to give you all the details when you e-mail me. Thanks so much. (I'm using a library computer at the moment, as I'm away from home, so could not e-mail you directly).

1/24/2007 7:02 PM  
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