We got lost once we left the highway, noting that our TomTom GPS has a disturbing affinity for ghettos, slums, and industrial areas. After an inspiring inner city, self-guided tour (including new Vocabulary Words, a short graffiti art lesson, and a demonstration of how to pee in a dumpster), we called Gramsy, who helped us poor smartphone-less people get headed to the correct address.
First up, the National Constitution Center.
Although the Constiution and Declaration of Independence now reside in the National Archives in D.C., Philadelphia is where both documents were revised, signed, and officially adopted by the Continental Congress. The Constitution Center had a great multimedia presentation about the creation of the Constitution, as well as one of the first public copies of the document. There were costumed actors and rangers walking around answering questions in the Visitor's Center and around the Mall.
The boy's favorite display was the hall of signers, featuring full sized bronze statues of all the signers in the same room. You can also "sign" the Constiution alongside all the existing signatures. Rich has become quite a fan of George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Samuel Adams from watching Liberty Kids and the many books we've been using for U.S. History lately. The park ranger was impressed that he was looking for Samuel and John Adams, and explained they were in London and New York when the Constitution was signed.
With George Washington
Making sure Andrew Hamilton is the real deal
Lunch was Philly Cheesteaks and Hotdogs from street vendors while we watched the horses, buggies, locals, and field trips moving up and down Independence Avenue. Gotta each a cheesteak in Philly, right?
Next we toured Independence Hall (known at the Pennsylvania State House to the colonists). We saw the room where the Declaration was signed, and where the Constitution was re-written and re-vised multiple times. The building retains 75% of the original woodwork and 90% of the original brickwork, and there are several chairs, quills, etc. that are original. The coolest thing was seeing Thomas Jefferson's walking stick, and the chair George Washington sat in during these proceedings.
Adjacent was the building where the U.S. Government resided for ten years while Washington D.C. was being built. This is where the first transfer of power from Washington to Adams took place, as well as the birthplace of the Bill of Rights/Amendments.
Finally, the Liberty Bell. Rich had tons of questions for the park ranger, who gave them Founder's collector cards if the kids could answer questions about the Founding Fathers.
We took Mom to Ardmoor (about 10 minutes down the road) for her Anniversary present - a massage at Massage Envy. The boys and I hung out at a nearby park, then went shopping at Whole Foods until Mom was done.
Then it was back downtown to eat at The Tavern. Authentic Colonial era decor, costumes, and food. We ate by candlelight, drank from pewter tankards, and enjoyed awesome New England and Dutch food. The building has been renovated multiple times but the location was a haunt for people like John Adams, Ben Franklin, James Madison, and Samuel Adams between politicking at the nearby Court and State House.
(Can you tell I'm worn out here?)
Great trip, but too short. The neighborhoods and restaurants downtown deserve more exploration, and we'd like to see the Mint and Ben Franklin's house. Next time!