What’s Doing In Philadelphia

By Paul Riegler on 1 February 2012
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Philadelphia, the epicenter of the American Revolution and the country’s capital in the 18th century, is much more than the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Located only two hours from New York City and less than three hours from Washington D.C.,  Philadelphia is a cosmopolitan city with some of the country’s top universities, museums, and cultural organizations within its borders, not to mention a variety of restaurants and local specialties including a type of sausage (scrapple), cheesesteaks, and local breweries.

Philadelphia’s architecture dates back to Colonial times, which present an interesting contrast with numerous glass and granite skyscrapers built starting in the 1980s (Philadelphia is one of four cities in the U.S. with two or more buildings taller than 900’ (274 m).


Philadelphia’s history is inexorably tied to the founding of the United States and, as a result, Philadelphia Betsy Rossthere are many historic sites that are worth a visit. Independence National Historical Park, Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the home of the Liberty Bell, are the city’s most famous attractions.  The nearby (and very new) National Constitution Center deserve a visit as well.

The Second Bank of the United States, chartered in 1816, is on Chestnut Street between 4th and 5th, and now serves as at art gallery (admission is free) and houses almost 200 portraits of prominent 18th-century Americans.

Visitors can see the home and workshop of Betsy Ross (pictured), who sewed the nation’s first flag for General Washington, and visit the home of Edgar Allen Poe.


Philadelphia is a city of museums, including the Pennsylvania Academia of the Fine Arts and the Rodin Museum, which holds the largest collection of works by Auguste Rodin outside of France.  The Philadelphia Museum of Art, enshrined in the film Rocky, is one of the largest in the U.S.

The Franklin Institute (pictured) houses the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Mütter Museum, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.  Other museums include the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Public art and murals may be found everywhere.  The Swann Memorial Fountain (also known as the Fountain of the Three Rivers and pictured above) is a centerpiece of Logan Square designed by Alexander Stirling Calder in the early twentieth century.

The nation’s first zoo and hospital are in Philadelphia as is Fairmont Park, one of the country’s largest and oldest urban parks.


The Avenue of the Arts presents numerous theaters, concert halls, and restaurants.  The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is home to the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Academy of Music a few doors down is the nation’s oldest continually operated opera house.  Theaters include the Wilma Theater (owned by the owners of the adjacent Doubletree by Hilton hotel) and the Walnut Street Theater, the nation’s oldest and also the largest subscription theater in the world.

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