52 States in 8 Months

Here is the real historic place: Philly!!!

Posted in East coast trip by Ulf on February 27, 2009

On January 3rd we left NYC and went south again. Our destination: Philadelphia! There is also a Philadelphia in Germany, but we went to the real one. Although Philly is just about 40 miles away from Newark, I’ve never really visited this city before. I only knew the airport and the railway station of the 4th, 5th or 6th largest city of the United States (this depends on what indicator one uses). My first impression was: There are not as many skyscrapers in Philly as we’ve seen in NYC, but the Philly skyscrapers look better! Osama, if you ever hijack planes again, do not send them to Philly! I warned you!

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The first tourist attraction we saw was the Philadelphia city hall. Wikipedia claims it is the world’s tallest masonry (German: gemauert) building. Does anyone find a larger one? (St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is just about 130m, so that one won’t beat the Philly city hall’s 167m). On top of the the city hall, there is a statue of William Penn.

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There is an interesting story about the Penn Statue on top of the city hall. As long as this was the highest place in Philadelphia, everything was fine. But when they built the skyscrapers (which I mentioned earlier) in the 1980s, the “Curse of William Penn” came up: No Philadelphia team won any major sports event since the early 1980s.
However, two days before I came here, on October 29th 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series. That’s baseball. So, how could they win it if there is this curse? Well, they just put a small William Penn statue on top of the Comcast Center which is the largest building in Philadelphia today ;-). Go Phillies!!!

Besides beautiful skyscrapers, Philly also has a giant clothespin:

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On our way through Philly we saw a really long queue next to a theater. Do you see the red building in picture? That’s where the queue starts. They all wanted to see the best musical ever. Instead of going there too, we went by Steven Singer, a Philadelphia jeweler. They have a funny advertising slogan, “I hate Steven Singer” :-).

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So much about current Philadelphia. I promised you some really historic places. The first one is Washington Square. Since many wounded soldiers were brought to Philadelphia in the Revolutionary War, many soldiers also died in Philadelphia. This is why they created a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with a statue of George Washington:
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The next statue of George Washington is not far away: Just across the road, there is the Congress Hall, the Independence Hall and the Old City Hall. Latter one was the home of the Supreme Court in its early days, while the Congress Hall was obviously used by the Representatives (lower floor) and Senators (upper floor). In Independence Hall, which you see on the next picture, they decided about the Declaration of Independence and, a few years later, about the constitution:

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The first floor of the Independence Hall had two rooms: The first one was for the Philadelphia Supreme Court (not the national one I mentioned earlier). The second one is the important one. They call it the “assembly room”. This is where the Continental Congress has held all its historic meetings. You’ll recognize the assembly room on paintings from 1776 and 1787.

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Most of what you see in these rooms are replicas. One of the few original pieces, however, is George Washington’s “Rising Sun” chair. Benjamin Franklin said:

“I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I know that it is a rising sun.”

We took a tour through this building, and our guide was great! I have to say “Thank you!” at this point. When I took this picture of her, she was just giving us some details on the declaration of independence. Congress declared independence on July 2, 1776. That was a Tuesday. The Lee resolution however did not look formal enough. So they explained their reasons in the longer declaration paper which was adopted two days later, on Thursday. Only god knows why the Americans chose July 4 as their Independence Day.

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By the way: They do also have a picture of William Penn in the Independence Hall, although Penn had very little to do with the formation of the USA since Penn died in 1718. He looks much thinner on this picture compared to the one on Wikipedia.

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After leaving the Independence Hall, we went to the building where they store the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell is something the Americans are really proud of. It’s on every second stamp, and models of the Liberty Bell can be found everywhere in the country (the last one I saw was in front of the Union Station in DC). In its early days the Liberty Bell (or … “Old State House bell”) was used to announce the Continental Congress, and perhaps it was rung to announce the public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Who knows? After all, America’s Liberty Bell was built in England, just where they created Big Ben.

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While I tried to get a good shot of the Liberty Bell, an American family also took their picture. Well, at least they tried to, because they just could not make their son smile (on the picture below, the boy in the blue anorak). Mila and I therefore started making some jokes about him ;-).

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2 Responses

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  1. tfrt said, on March 5, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Is there something special about the gameing pieces in Philadelphia?
    At least I found chess, domio, normal tokens and monopoli on the pictures.

    Do youn know what kind of book is lieing on the domino stone, Mila came too late to stop him falling?

  2. Ulf said, on March 5, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Hey tfrt!

    That book should be our Philadelphia tour guide. Actually the book comes from the AAA, the American Automobile Association. So Mila just put it there while she pretended to keep the domino stone from falling down. Actually, those domino stones are fixed to the ground, so they can’t really fall down.

    I don’t know why they have so many tokens in front of the city hall. My primary source for superficial knowledge (Wikipedia) doesn’t tell me about it. I guess they are just some pieces of art, either temporary or permanent. I don’t know, I’m sorry!


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