Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
October 2000


Independence Hall
The First Continental Congress met in Carpenters Hall, (not shown), in September 1774.  Being the principal city of the colonies and mid way between the north and south, Philadelphia was a logical choice.  Carpenters Hall was exactly that, a meeting place for the master carpenters to meet and share their trade and techniques. 
The first congress met to address a declaration of rights and grievances submitted to King George III.  The delegates agreed to boycott English goods and resolved to hold a second congress should England not address their grievances.

In 1774, most Colonists thought that things could be worked out with England, but that would be like a teenager saying, "Mom, Dad, I think we can work this out."
This photo is the interior of the Philadelphia State House, better known today as Independence Hall.

The people that had come to the colonies were independent and adventurous by their very nature.  The Second Continental Congress gathered at the Pennsylvania State House on May 10, 1775.  By this time armed conflict had broken out in Lexington and Concord across the river from Boston.  Now the delegates were called upon to direct a war.  In 1775 there was still a diverse collection of opinions towards England and ideas on how to settle matters.

In June of 1776, Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee offered a resolution declaring, "That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."  By July 2, 1776  The delegates found themselves in the room above signing the Declaration of Independence.  Now all they had to do was convince England.
 
 
Here's the Liberty Bell.  The infamous crack is on the other side by Cheryl and the boys.  This bell was just that, a bell, until the Civil War when 19th century abolitionists who sought to end slavery first gave it this name.  Cheryl was quite shocked to learn that this legendary bell was not part of the our revolutionary past.
In a similar way the name, Independence Hall, was not an original name.  The Marquis de LaFayette, who was like son to George Washington and an important member of his staff during the Revolutionary War, came to Philadelphia years later and insisted on seeing the "Hall of Independence", the place where political freedom began.  Then again, standing in front of the State House, he made a statement to the people traveling with him referring to this building as the Hall of Independence.  Well, the name stuck.
This is the "First Bank of the United States." 
Similar to Boston, many of Philadelphia's streets are narrow.  The side streets are wide enough for just one horse drawn carriage.  At least here the streets are laid out in a grid for the most part. 
 Philadelphia was considered one of the most modern, intellectual cities in the world during the late 18th century.  Most of the buildings in this part of town were built in the 1700's, just about all of them using red brick..
Here, Mitch and Max are in Christ Church in George Washington's pew.  Like many older churches it is surrounded by a cemetery with many interesting names and stories.

We also saw pews marked with Washington's name in Boston and Williamsburg. 


The Plaque from Washington's Pew

John Penn's Grave
Here's a statue of Benjamin Franklin in the entry of the Franklin Institute.  The Institue is a huge science museum.  It has a great collection of science and industrial history displays.
On the roof of the Institute we had a chance to look at the sun through this filtered high power telescope.  We could see sun spots and flares.  Again, we were able to tell the boys that this was also our first time to actually look at the sun other than in books or on television.
Across town, near Independence Hall, we visited Benjamin Franklin's home and saw a 1700's model printing press stamping out copies of the Declaration of Independence.  There are so many historic sites in Philadelphia that we didn't see that a second trip will be in order.
I'll also mention South Street, about five blocks south of the historic area.  It's a lively street with lots of pubs, restaurants and shops that give it a college town atmosphere.  On South Street you'll find Jim's Steak, home of some very delicious and famous cheese steak sandwiches.  It's a small place where you line up to get your sandwich as four guys toss the steak and assemble the sandwich.  It seems there's always a line.
We also visited Valley Forge, to the west of Philadelphia across the river.  This is the house that George Washington rented and turn into his headquarters.

I always figured Valley Forge was a battle location.  However, no battles were fought here.  This is the location were Washington's Army camped for the winter of 1777-1778.

It's on a hill across the river from Philadelphia, which was then occupied by the British.  It provided a place that was close enough to keep an eye on the British and to train the recruits for war.  It also kept the British from occupying the western farm lands.  There's a lot more to the story of Valley Forge, but we need to get going to Europe this week so you'll have to visit this place for yourself.
 
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