There's a powerful spirit in the cities and buildings where this nation was born, and in no place is that more true than in Philadelphia.
Just think of the places--Independence Hall, Christ's Church, the Liberty Bell, The President's House. . . Can't you feel your arms prickle? Now say the names of the men who made these places sacred--Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison--and you can't help but feel your heart pound. Once you step beyond the doorway--even before in fact, because from the vantage point of the street, you'll find yourself entranced and spellbound, in reverent awe, thinking, "They were here. . . they were here. . ."
I remember the first time I visited the sites. I was shocked by how familiar they were, and then I realized I had seen them countless times before in historic movies. But no familiarity could dim the feelings I felt as I drew in the scent of that old wood that surrounded the Founding Fathers.
Independence Hall was my favorite stop. I confess to feeling those aforementioned chills as I gazed around the room, imagining men dressed in heavy garb, cooped up inside that stifling room, behind closed doors and windows during the blazing summer heat because the conversations they were having were too dangerous to be allowed to float outside to the citizenry. My eyes burned too. I'll admit it. It's a wonderful place.
In my opinion, every American family needs a copy of two award-winning films--"A More Perfect Union" , the history of the sacrifices made to bring forth the Constitution, produced by BYU; and HBO's mini-series, "John Adams", available anywhere DVDs are sold.
Make sure to visit Christ's Church. The spirit there is indescribable. Washington's, Franklin's, Hopkinson's names are still on their family pews. I sat in them and ran my fingers over the nameplates and my eyes moistened as they are right now as I remember the moment. I faced forward and wondered what filled their minds as they heard scriptures proclaiming freedom and God's love for all mankind being spoken from the pulpit, even as they prepared to rebel against Britain. Go there. Feel it too.
Click on the historic map, (above) of Philadelphia as it appeared in 1776. It becomes an interactive children's tour of the city, transporting you to a treasury of historic information about each building and its place in history. An even better tour, called AMERICA'S MOST HISTORIC MILE is a great start to planning a trip to Philadelphia, but if that's not possible, then sit down and take a virtual tour. There's enough information there to fill several hours. Yes, they still tell the Betsy Ross story, but you may by surprised that no historian will support it. Here are two views, (one) (two), of how and why we still revere her, at the very least as a representative of the women of Revolutionary America.
Visit Carpenters' Hall and the President's House. I shared a two-year correspondence with the curator of the historic city, Mr. Ed Lawler. I asked him innumerable questions and he supplied me with long, beautiful answers I needed to assure the historic accuracy of my Free Men and Dreamers books. Ed was working on a project of great historic import--the restoration of the President's House, the Philadelphia home provided for President George Washington when Philadelphia was the nation's capital. While excavating to uncover the original foundation, Ed and his team discovered the foundation of another building. Exhaustive research provided the the details about that second building which has, in turn, provided groundbreaking historical insight into George Washington and his family's relationship with a slave named Oney Judge. History is still being uncovered.
Click on the photo of Independence Hall. This link will take you to another virtual tour of Philadelphia that includes not only Early American history like the Liberty Bell and Christ's Church, but such fascinating historical topics as the Underground Railroad and Memorial Hall, location of the world famous, "Please Touch" Children's Museum.
Make personal history while enjoying a unique taste of the past by dining on board a clipper ship anchored in the Delaware by Penn's landing. The Moshulu, the largest four-masted sailing ship in the world still afloat, is a unique restaurant with a grand menu and unique ambiance. This was our table, and I can't tell you how wondrous it was to gaze around that magnificent interior and look out over the water while it gently rocked beneath us.
Grab a real Philly cheese steak, walk around the harbor, and make sure to see it all at night as well as by day. If you love Americana, you'll find it in Philadelphia's shops, and make a stop at the Penn Market.
So many adventures here. It's one of my pick American cities. You could spend a week here an never see it all. Let me prove it to you. Click here, then click on each pull down menu and watch the flags appear. Hundreds of things to do and see, and most of them will exhilarate the patriot in you!