Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Philly for the Fourth (2012)

Since we've been in Connecticut, we've tried to go various places for the Fourth of July to see the fireworks.  The first year we were here we went to NYC (really really good fireworks), last year we went to Boston (also amazing), and this year we went to Philadelphia (good fireworks, but too short).
Even though the fireworks were less impressive than anticipated, we had an AMAZING time!  Philly is such a great city, and truly an amazing place to be for this particular holiday.  There is SO MUCH history there to take in.  We were only there for two and a half days, so our trip was a bit of a whirlwind, but so worth it.  We were joined by my brother and his girlfriend.  Andrew and I took the train (Amtrak) down to Philly and it was so nice not having to deal with a car there.  We went down on Monday night and were joined by Jamie and Christy Tuesday morning.  We immediately went in pursuit of a Philly Cheesesteak, and successfully found a delicious one at Jim's.

After chowing down, we wandered around the city and did The Constitutional Walking Tour, seeing Benjamin Franklin's grave, Betsy Ross' house, Christ Church, the original foundation of the President's house, the Second Federal Bank, Franklin's Library, and the Quaker Meeting House.  

After the tour, we walked over to Elfreth's Alley, one of the oldest existing inhabited residential streets in the country - built in 1702.

We also saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square, before hiking back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at Hard Rock Cafe.

On the Fourth of July, we got up and went to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

We got to see the chair that George Washington sat in while leading the Continental Congress.  So cool!  Then we bussed it over to the Eastern State Penitentiary.  This was the first penitentiary built in the US.  Originally, the prisoners were kept in solitary confinement and were not allowed to talk or make noise.  This was because the prisoners were supposed to be repenting of their crimes through prayer.  It was also to protect the prisoner's identity so that when they were released, they would not be known as a criminal and unable to find work.  As the prison grew, this idea faded away.  We were able to view much of the prison (crumbling after being abandoned for 20 years before becoming a historical landmark) including Al Capone's cell.  We also got to go into "the hole", where I was able to stand up straight, but Andrew, Jamie, and Christy had to crouch.

After exploring the prison for several hours, we hiked over to the fireworks location, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  We saw (from a distance) the Rocky statue and stairs.  There was a concert we could hear (and occasionally see) featuring The Roots, Queen Latifah, Common, Darryl Hall, Joe Jonas, and a few others to fill the time before the fireworks started at 11:00.  (Not really music either of us listen to...)  The fireworks were pretty, but they only lasted about 10 minutes, which was quite disappointing.

On our last day there (Thursday), we got up and ate at Profi's Creperie in the Reading Terminal Market.  It was DELICIOUS.  I had a nutella and strawberry filled crepe.  YUM!

Jamie and Christy left after breakfast, but Andrew and I weren't catching the train until 5:00, so we had time to walk around and see some more sights.  We wandered around and saw the Declaration House, where Thomas Jefferson rented a room and wrote the Declaration of Independence.  We also saw Carpenter's Hall, where the First Continental Congress met, as well as (the reconstructed) New Hall where the first architecture school was located.  The first class of 40 students paid $1.00 tuition!  We also got to see the Old State House.

All in all, this was SUCH an AMAZING TRIP!  We had a wonderful time and look forward to returning another time because there was so much we missed!  We highly recommend visiting Philly if you haven't before.  Really incredible place and truly the city of brotherly love.

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