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

Saturday, October 22, 2005

October 21, 2005 – I made it through the day with no evacuations!

This morning I slept in a little. I left the B&B at walked to a few places on my schedule. None of them opened until 10:00, and it was only 9:30, so I kept walking. I ended up at the United States Mint. This is proof I love my brother David. You can’t tour the mint without a tour set up by your Representative, so I knew I couldn’t take a tour. I wanted to go to the gift shop though, to see if they had anything worth buying. The security guide said that they don’t allow cameras or cell phones, so I couldn’t get in. I was about as far as I could be from where I was staying without leaving the historic area, so I didn’t have time to go back, drop off my stuff, return to the min, and then go back to pick up my stuff. So, I was out of luck. Except, I have a nice smile and am not afraid to ask for help. (I learned that in Boston.) I walked around the corner to a hotel, smiled at the lady behind the desk, and asked if there was any way they could keep my cameras and cell phone. She said sure, so I left everything and went back to the mint. The security guard let me in this time, only to tell me that the computers were down in the gift shop so I couldn’t buy anything! I must have looked pretty disappointed, because he told me to go on in and try anyway. I did, and was successful.

By then, it was 10:00, so I started walking back toward the Betsy Ross house. I passed the Arch Street Meeting House and stopped there. A very nice lady gave me a tour and explained all about the Quaker religion. I must admit, I learned a lot. I didn’t know much about Quakers. Apparently there are Quakers in Nashville.

After the Meeting House, I finally made it to Betsy Ross’s House. I did the audio tour, which was excellent. A lot of audio tours just read what is already written on plaques, but this one added a lot. And, as always, the people in the house were full of interesting information. I didn’t realize that Betsy Ross sewed flags secretly during the Revolutionary War. She had to do it in her bedroom on the second floor of the house so that the English soldiers wouldn’t see. She would be convicted of treason and likely hanged if they ever found out. It is even likely that soldiers were quartered in her house at various points during the Revolution. She continued making flags until she went blind several years before she died. I believe she lived to be in her 80’s.

Next on the schedule was Franklin Court. It was pouring rain, and I needed to use an ATM machine, so I stopped at a little diner called Old City Pizza. I used the ATM, and decided that it would be polite to buy something. Plus, they had cherry cheesecake. Mmmmm. I love cheesecake, especially cherry. So, I had a piece and cup of coffee. It was one of the best pieces of cheesecakes I have ever had in my life. Seriously. It was melt in your mouth good. It was even better than MY cheesecake…but I’m sure it was a lot more fattening.

Ok, enough with the food breaks. On to Franklin Court!! Franklin’s Court is an interesting tribute to such a multi-talented person. His house was destroyed without any detailed descriptions recorded. So, when they were going to rebuild it, they would have had to make many assumptions. Instead, they built a “ghost” structure where the house would have been. There are no walls, just a frame where the house and print shop would have been. There are pieces of the foundation that had been unearthed. They are displayed on the ground under glass. Underground there is a museum. They have many of his inventions on display. My favorite was a chair that transforms into library steps. Very useful. They have a sunken state with little figures that act out various political debates that Franklin had. He really was a incredible man, with multiple inventions, a print shop that utilized many of his inventions, he started the first fire insurance agency in Philadelphia, a writer, postmaster general, writer, and of course, politician and diplomat. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

The fire insurance was interesting. Back then fire was a common occurrence. Every house was required to have two fire buckets with the family name painted on them hanging by their front door. If there was a fire, everyone had to grab their buckets and run to help put out the fire. After the fire was out, they took roll to make sure every family helped. If someone was missing, they would get a “strike.” If a family missed three fires, then they would not be helped if their house caught on fire. For families that had fire insurance, the company would pay all of the families that helped put out the fire.

I spent quite a while at Franklin Court. It was hard to hear for a while because some obnoxious school groups came through. Seriously, I don’t know why these chaperones don’t seem to care how their kids behave. They don’t even ask then to stop screaming in a museum. It is a totally accepted behavior. There weren’t any school groups in Boston, but they are all over Philadelphia.

After Franklin Court I walked over to Society Hill, a neighborhood with upper class houses. There are two houses to tour there. The first one is the Powell House. Mr. Powell was the first mayor of Philadelphia after the Revolution. The Washingtons lived next door for a couple years, while George Washington was President. The Powell House was an example of one of the wealthiest families in Philadelphia. Mr. Powell inherited 90 houses and rented them. Their house is an example of Georgian architecture, another symmetrical style. They had fake doors in their house to preserve symmetry.

The second house was the Physick House. Mr. Physick was a doctor, one of the more prominent surgeons in Philadelphia. He operated on Chief Justice John Marshall twice. The Chief Justice needed a third surgery, but Mr. Physick wasn’t able to perform it. John Marshall died in the Physick House during that illness. On the day of Marshall’s death, the Liberty Bell rung and cracked.

I got a taxi after seeing the Physick House and went to the Philadelphia Art Museum. (No, I didn’t run up and down the steps like Rocky, so don’t ask.) I was tired, so I decided to just check out the Impressionist section and leave afterward. They had a pretty good collection. They have one of Monet’s water lily paintings, which is beautiful. They had many Cassatt paintings as well. After the Impressionists, I decided to walk through the older sections. They had some beautiful old pieces, specifically some illuminated paintings from the 1400’s. I ended up staying later than I thought. I stopped by Old City Pizza on the way back for dinner (I was famished) and had another Cheesesteak. I had this one with mushrooms. I made it back to my room by 9:30 and went to bed.

18,033 steps


Blogger Christopher said...

Mr. Physick was a doctor? Yeah right. That sounds soooo made up it's not funny. For one, why isn't it DR. Physick? And two, what kind of Dan Brown hack comes up with their made up doctors name by combining "Physician" and "Sick". I hope you didn't pay for that tour!

BTW, what'd you do on Saturday and Sunday? Nothing blog-worthy?

10/24/2005 3:30 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

I thought you said you had another "cheeseCAKE" this one with mushrooms. That's disgusting!

10/24/2005 3:32 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home