Where it all Began
Independence Hall was once full of treason. In 1776 the Declaration of Independence was approved here by the Second Continental Congress in defiance of the British government. In 1787 the Constitution of the United States was finally completed after months of debates in this building. Even beyond those two momentous acts, Independence Hall was once home to the Liberty Bell (see below).
Independence Hall can be viewed between 9 AM and 5 PM with a ticket. You can reserve tickets ahead of time for a small fee or line up outside Independence Visitors Center for first-come-first-served free tickets on the day of your tour. This location is part of the Independence National Historical Park.
The Broken Icon
The Liberty Bell may have been one of the bells that rang after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It may have been cracked after the death of Chief Justice John Marshall. No matter what its real story is, the Liberty Bell has gained recognition as one of America’s patriotic symbols after being used as a symbol of freedom in the fight against slavery. It used to be housed in Independence Hall but now its home is in Liberty Bell Center.
Liberty Bell Center is open from 9 AM to 5 PM and admission is free. This location is part of the Independence National Historical Park.
The Legislative and Judicial Branches
Congress Hall was once the U.S. Capitol Building. Downstairs you could find the House of Representatives and upstairs is where the Senate assembled. The Bill of Rights was ratified in this building and both George Washington and John Adams had a presidential inauguration here.
Congress Hall is open from 9 AM to 5 PM and admission is free. This location is part of the Independence National Historical Park.
Over in the judicial branch of government, the United States Supreme Court used to be held at Old City Hall. The decisions of this court led to the passing of the Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution.
Old City Hall is open from 9 AM to 5 PM and admission is free on a first-come-first-served basis. This location is part of the Independence National Historical Park.
The Nation’s Church
Christ Church has a long tie to American history. It was built in the 18th century and inside you’ll find the baptismal font used to baptize William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. The congregation of Christ Church includes many key historical figures including 15 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Both George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were members as well. Christ Church has the distinction of being the birthplace of the Episcopalian church in America.
Christ Church is open Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Sundays from 1 PM to 5 PM. Admission is free but a donation of $3 is suggested.
A few blocks away from the church is the Christ Church Burial Ground. Many original signers of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were buried here or on the church property. Benjamin Franklin is one of the many people that was laid to rest at the burial ground and visitors leave pennies on his grave.
Christ Church Burial Ground is open Monday through Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM and Sundays from 12 PM to 4 PM. Admission is $2 for adults and guided tours are offered for $3. This location is a National Historic Landmark.
What historical sites have you been to in Philadelphia?