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Philadelphia Travel Guide - Sights to See
Transportation: From Philadelphia International Airport to City Center takes about 30 minutes. Taxis are available at metered rates. More economical is Deluxe Transportation Company... vans, which stop outside baggage claims and travel between the airport and Center Hotels.

Philadelphia also has an extensive system of buses, trolleys, and subways. One can pick up a map at the underground concourse at 15th and Market Streets. The #76 bus, which runs on Chestnut Street between Independence Mall and 18th Street will drop you off close to most historic attractions. Exact fare is required.

The best way to visit Philadelphia is "on foot". Most of the historic and cultural attractions are easy walks from the midtown area. Pick up a map at the Visitor's Center at 1525 John F. Kennedy Blvd.

Tours: Self-guided walking tours are the best way to discover the city's charming nooks and crannies. If the weather is bleak, try one of Gray Lines daily tours. The Fairmount Park Trolley Bus, a recreation of a Victorian Trolley, departs for the Scenic Tour about every 20 minutes from the Visitor's Center...stops at the top museums, historic houses and the zoo... tour takes 90 minutes, including on-off privileges. The Philadelphia Carriage Co. has costumed drivers in antique horse-drawn carriages, but not cheap.

Parks and gardens: Philadelphia is dotted by five public squares, which were designed by William Penn. Franklin Square at 7th and Race. Washington Square, a London-like park at 6th and Walnut. Rittenhouse Square is a well-manicured park at 18th and Walnut. Logan Circle is enhanced by Calder's Fountain at 18th and B.Franklin Pkwy. Centre Square is now occupied by City Hall. The first 4 squares are scenic spots where one can relax and have a picnic lunch break.

Independence National Historical Park: This is the most historic square mile in the U.S... incorporating many of the country's most important sites. Most of the buildings are open daily from 9 AM - 5 PM. The Visitor's Center at 3rd and Chestnut will supply you with a map and outline a tour for you.

Independence Hall: Go here first. Lines can get very long. This is America's most historic building, built in 1732... where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the U.S. Constitution was written. Guided tours leave every 15-20 minutes from the east wing.

Liberty Bell Pavilion: Market St. between 5th and 6th. The Liberty Bell, which had hung in the belfry of Independence Hall since 1753, was moved to a glass pavilion on Independence Mall north of the Hall in 1976, during the Bicentennial celebration. The bell fulfilled the words of its inscription when it rang to "proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof", beckoning Philadelphians to the State House Yard to hear the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Carpenter's Hall: ... where the First Continental Congress met.

Second Bank of the United States: ... see the Portrait gallery.

Graff House: The reconstructed house where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence.

Bishop White House: Home of the 1st bishop of the Episcopal Diocese.

Todd House: The home of Dolley Todd who later became Dolley Madison,

Note: Tickets for Bishop House and Todd House must be picked up at Visitor's Center.

Old City: This is the neighborhood north of Market Street and Independence National Historical Park, and was always "the other side of the tracks". It's earliest residents were a strict sect of Penn's followers called "stiff Quakers". A tour of Old City will complete your picture of Colonial Philadelphia.

Christ Church: 2nd, north of Market. Many of those who were instrumental in America's independence worshiped here. Open daily 9-5. Donations welcome.

Christ Church Burial Grounds: 5th and Arch. Five signers of the "Declaration" are buried here... the most famous is BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 9:30-4:30.

Betsy Ross House: 239 Arch St. The 13-star Old Glory waves from the second floor window of the restored 18th century home of the lady who is credited with sewing the first American flag. Furnished with period pieces. Open 9-5.

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site: 532 N. 7th St. This is the author's only Philadelphia residence still standing, and is where he wrote "The Gold Bug" and "The Tell-Tale Heart". Daily 9-5.

Elfreth's Alley: 2nd St. between Arch and Race. The cobblestone lane and small houses on this, the oldest continuously occupied street in America, offer a glimpse of what much of colonial Philadelphia looked like. House at #126 is a museum... 10-4.

Friends Meeting House: 4th and Arch. William Penn gave this land to the Religious Society of Friends. Exhibits depict Penn's life and contributions. Mon-Sat 10-4.

Society Hill it was and still is Philadelphia's showplace. It is a fashionable residential district where beautifully preserved Colonial, Georgian and Federal homes are interspersed with some historically relevant and just plain tourist attractions.

Hill-Physick-Keith House: 321S. 4th... is the only freestanding Federal mansion in Center City. Contains an outstanding collection of silver, Empire and Federal pieces. Tue-Sat 10-4. Sun 1-4.

Penn's Landing: Delaware River waterfront between Chestnut and Spruce Strs. The Port of History Museum and several ships turned floating museum, include a World War II sub and Commodore Dewey's flagship.

Powel House: 244 S. 3rd. Many colonial leaders dined at Mayor Samuel Powel's elegant table. Furnishings reflect the mid-Georgian era. Open Tue-Sat 10-4. Sun 1-4.

Philadelphia Museum of Art: 26th and B. F. Pkwy. This is the city's cultural highlight, a Greco-Roman temple with a dazzling collection of American crafts, furniture and glass... as well as a first-rate art collection. Tue-Sun 10-5.

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts: Broad and Cherry. The country's oldest museum and art school... now a National Historical Landmark... containing 3 centuries of American Art. Tue-Sat 10-5. Sun 11-5.

Barnes Foundation: 300 N. Latches Lane, Merion. Call Tourist center for directions. One of the world's finest private art collections, which is never lent for exhibit. The Impressionists are well represented. Open Fri-Sat 9:30-4:30. Sun 1-4:30.

Franklin Institute Science Museum: 20th and B.F.Pkwy. Imaginative, hands-on exhibits bring science and technology to life. Mon-Sat 10-5. Sun 12-5,

Mummers Museum: 2nd and Washington. The history, costumes, and folklore of the Mummers, one of the city's most colorful and unique traditions is on display. Tue-Sat 9:30-5. Sun 12-5.

Rodin Museum: 22nd and B. F. Pkwy. A priceless collection of Rodin's originals and castings... largest collection outside Paris. Tue-Sun 10-5.

Pennsylvania Hospital: 8th and Spruce. The nation's oldest hospital is full of artwork, early medical instruments. Weekdays 9-3.

City Hall: Broad and Market. Free one hour tour of the seat of Philadelphia's Municipal Government. The observation deck at the foot of Penn's statue is a must. Mon-Fri at 12:30 PM. Meet in Conversation Hall from Broad entrance.

Southwark: The area which previously contained the modest homes of artisans and craftsmen. Many have now been lovingly restored. (S. of Society Hill).

Franklin Court Underground Museum: The court was once the site of Ben's home. The museum is an imaginative tribute to him... dial-a-quote to hear his thoughts... pick up a phone and call his contemporaries to find out what they really thought of him. This hands-on museum is very interesting.

Head House Square: A colonial marketplace at 2nd and Pine.

South Street: Philadelphia's Greenwich Village. Between Society Hill and Southwark... great for people watching.

The Bourse: Across from Independence Mall... a magnificently restored Victorian Commodities Exchange now filled with exclusive boutiques. On top floor are ethnic eateries. Good food!

Academy of Natural Sciences: On Logan Circle. The oldest Nat Science Museum in U.S...best known for displays of stuffed animals in natural habitat, including dinosaurs. Mon-Fri 10-4. Sat-Sun 10-5.

Academy of Music: An opulent hall modeled after La Scala...on Broad Street

Rittenhouse Square: 18th/Walnut. The city's most fashionable address,

University Museum of Archaeology-Anthropology: On the UP Campus... a well known collection of ancient man. Tue-Sat 10-4:30.

Chinatown: Marked by an ornamental gate spanning 10th St. north of Arch.

John Wanamaker's: One of the first great Department Stores and a Philadelphia institution... from the bargain basement to 9th floor gift department. There are daily organ concerts on world's largest pipe organ,

South Philadelphia: Little Italy... many famous singers born here.

Perelman Antique Toy Museum: 270 S. 2nd. 3 floors of early American tin and cast-iron toys and the world's largest collection of mechanical banks. 9:30-5.

The Commissary: 1710 Sansom St. A gourmet cafeteria, excellent soups, salads, omelets, deserts and special daily entrees. Daily for breakfast to a late dinner. Moderate.
About the Author
Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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