We still had half of the American Revolution Museum to see, so in themorning we went straight back to walk through the rest of it. We are now really well versed in Revolutionary War history! Including how to prepare a musket to fire:
Our next stop was the American Jewish Museum. Another museum with so much information that the ticket is good for 2 consecutive days. We thoroughly studied the first two floors, 1600-1900s, which focused on immigration to America and how Jewish society developed throughout the US during these time periods. We lost focus by the time we got to the 1900s to present, but I know we will have plenty of opportunity to learn about those issues in the future. FYI – they have beautiful Judaica in the gift shop if you ever need a good gift while you are here.
We had so many options of what to do the rest of the day. There were about 20 different special events happening during this weekend. The communities really take advantage of the ideal weather in September and October (although it has been close to 90 degrees this weekend). We opted to join the Great Philly Tour – it is a 12 hour walking tour of Philly hosted by the Philly Tour Guides Association. Our Free Tours by Foot guide, Marianne, had told us about it. We chose to do the last of the 4 segments of the walk which went from City Hall to the Museum of Art. The Philadelphia City Hall is the largest in the country and it is beautiful. Not sure if they do tours of it, but it definitely would be worthwhile.
While we were waiting for it to start we hung out in the courtyard of City Hall which was also the location of one of the Monument Labs – a series of temporary artistic monuments set up around the city.
The last segment of the walk started at 5pm and we luckily ran into Marianne who had walked the other 3 segments of the tour (guiding one of them) so we joined her and her BF. It was really fun to be with them on the walk. The walk basically followed the Benjamin Franklin Parkway which includes the Franklin Institute, The Rodin Museum, The Barnes Foundation Museum and multiple other statues, parks, fountains, monuments, and significant buildings. This trip we are not going to have enough time to see the inside of all of these places so at least we got to see the outside. Of course we ended up at the top of the steps of the Museum of Art (you know – Rocky!)
Then we went over the back side to the waterworks (when was it going to end!) and finally to dinner which was so kindly hosted by the Tour Guide Association. Afterward we tried to get a ride on one of the Firefly Pedicabs, another temporary art installation, but they were sold out. (Picture borrowed from their website).
We finally made it to the highlights of the Revolutionary History segment of our trip. We started the day with a tour of Independence Hall. I think Shayna was really excited to see the main room where it all happened. The only original artifact is George Washington’s chair at the front of the room.
The tour is led by one of the rangers who had us all sitting in a room discussing what resources we would need to start a revolution in today’s world and then compare that to how things happened in the 1700s; definitely a novel approach to discussing how the Declaration of Independence developed. Then we walked through one of the courtrooms and then into the chamber where the Declaration of Independence was designed and signed.
After that we fit in a tour of the Philadelphia Mint. It is a self guided tour with descriptions that discuss all of the steps and equipment used to produce coins, all set up around the windows that let you look into the working factory. It was really interesting!
By the time we were done it was already time for lunch so we walked over to Reading Terminal Market. It was packed! But we enjoyed a sandwich and some fresh pretzels.
From there we walked back to the new American Revolution Museum. There is so much to see that one ticket lets you in 2 consecutive days. This museum just opened in April, it is so new it still has that “new museum” smell! You enter the main exhibit through a door titled “Concord” and exit through a door titled “Yorktown”. Clever! We covered about 1/2 of it before it closed. The exhibits are incredibly informative with lots of preserved artifacts, including George Washington’s tent – that was cool!
We arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday and had a mellow day of just getting settled into our place – sooooo much nicer than our place in New York – and finding a place to leave the car. Parking is IMPOSSIBLE in the city! 150 year old streets are not conducive to modern day transportation.
At the last minute we decided to attend Rosh Hashanah services on Thursday morning. We took an Uber to the Rodef Shalom Temple which is fairly close to here, and enjoyed the “Multigenerational” service – i.e. babies crying and parents using little kids as an excuse to talk and walk around. The temple itself was gorgeous but the rabbis (both relatively young) seemed to have some difficulty keeping the congregation engaged. But the sanctuary is gorgeous!
We took the subway home (quickly figuring out our way around), and decided we needed traditional High Holiday food, so made deli sandwiches with crudite for lunch and bought groceries to make kugel for dinner. Unfortunately, I inadvertently bought cottage cheese with pineapple in it (yuck!). I figured out how to make a half portion to fit in the small pirex that fits in the mini-oven – everything is mini here because space is so limited.
After lunch we hopped on the bus that stops at the corner. It dropped us right at the Independence National Park Visitor Center – so EASY to get around! We went straight over to see the Liberty Bell.
Then we walked over to our scheduled Free by Foot tour of Old town Philadelphia which started at Betsy Ross’s house, went through the longest existing residential street, through Benjamin Franklin’s home and printing press office,
and then to Independence Hall. We also had a chance to see the archeological excavation of the first presidential house (used by George Washington and John Adams) which is just next to the Liberty Bell center: President House. These remains were just discovered in 2007 and this installation is fairly new. It focuses on the incongruity of slavery that existed within the household of George Washington while he was fighting for Independence. The issue of slavery is a major focus of many of the historical artifacts and locations here.
A great introduction to the area to give us ideas of what we wanted to cover the next couple of days. Afterward we headed home to prepare our Rosh Hashanah dinner which we ate on the floor of the living room – there is no dining table. (We really are happy here – very clean, quiet, safe and comfortable – the polar opposite to the place we had in Brooklyn!)