Walking through History

So by now you may have noticed that I go to Philadelphia a lot. The majority of my college friends live there and I also love the area. Everyone keeps telling me I just need to move there.

I don’t ever remember going to Philadelphia when I was a kid. It’s weird because we went to a lot of historical places like Gettysburg and Williamsburg, which are farther away.

Even though I have been to Philadelphia a lot over the past few years, I have not seen a majority of the historical sites. The first time I even saw the Liberty Bell was in 2008. We literally went in, looked at it, took pictures and then left and took pictures outside.

Liberty Bell 2008

I was pretty excited when Matt suggested visiting the Constitution Center and Independence Hall a few weeks ago. I would finally be able to see some Philadelphia history!

Our first stop was the Constitution Center. It is a museum that brings the United States Constitution to life. Matt had wanted to visit to see a special exhibit about JFK.

First we watched a movie/play called Freedom Rising. It is about the quest for freedom from the American Revolution to present day. It was pretty cool. There are screens all around the circular theatre so you are surrounded by images and videos while a narrator is explaining key points in history.

After the video you can go into the exhibit hall to see artifacts and learn more about historical milestones. After that we went to see Signer’s Hall and one of the 12 surviving copies of the Bill of Rights.

Then we went downstairs and saw the special exhibit called Creating Camelot.

Creating Camelot

It is a showcase of photos of the Kennedy family taken by Jacques Lowe. He was the Kennedy’s personal photographer from 1958 until the early years that JFK was in the White House.

Creating Camelot JFK

All of Lowe’s original negatives were stored in the World Trade Center vault and most were destroyed on 9/11. All of the photos in the exhibit were made from restored contact sheets Lowe had in his apartment in New York City.

The entire exhibit was fascinating. It really showed a personal side to the Kennedy family you didn’t necessarily see during John F. Kennedy’s short term in office. I really enjoyed the short film they had showing the photo restoration process. As someone that has had to work with negatives before I understand how older images can degrade and how hard it is to get rid of scratches and dust. The work they did to restore the images was amazing and I am glad they were able to preserve such beautiful images for future generations.

When we had finished seeing everything in the Constitution Center we walked over to Independence Hall.

We passed the building with the Liberty Bell, but the line was long and that is the one thing I have already seen there.

Independence Hall

We couldn’t figure out how to get inside at first. We walked around the building until we saw an entrance where we had to go through security. After that we waited on line.

They took groups of around 60 people in at a time. The park ranger we had as our guide was very intense, but he really knew his history and he made it interesting.

Independence Hall is where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were both debated and signed (but the debate was more important). It was originally the Pennsylvania State House and held all three branches of the Pennsylvania government. We first went into the courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and then we went to the Assembly Room. There are other rooms in the building, but those were the only two we were allowed in.

If you want to brush up on your history in a fun way you can always watch 1776. The movie musical version has William Daniels (Mr. Feeny) playing John Adams.

I really enjoyed my visit. It was nice to finally see some of Philadelphia’s history!

Have you ever been to Independence Hall or seen the Liberty Bell?

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